“The journey is home,” author Frances Mayes says in her book Every Day in Tuscany.
Long before the Eat Pray Love phenomenon, Frances Mayes was writing about her divorce and subsequent life with her second husband in rural Tuscany in Under the Tuscan Sun. She has written dozens of books about how much she adores the area. Every Day in Tuscany is a love letter to the region, chock full of anecdotes, free flowing journal entries and recipes. This book was a predecessor for her most recent book, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, a cookbook of her favorite Italian recipes gathered from her years abroad.
Her love for food, art and friends make for memorable storytelling, from her memories growing up in rural Georgia to a bomb scare from a disgruntled Italian neighbor to the visitors to Bramasole, including acting legend Robert Redford. The recipes in the book coordinate with the time of year she is writing about, so for the winter, she tells us about a kale, white been and sausage soup. In the summertime, it’s baked pasta with sausage and four cheeses with a farro salad. Be aware that I recommend reading this book with snacks handy!
Unfortunately, it felt like I was reading many different books: one part memoir, one part cookbook, one part guidebook and one part art history textbook. She creates a tour for readers who want to follow one particular artist’s work through Tuscany, which is interesting, but may be better suited for a magazine article. At times Every Day in Tuscany can be tedious, overly descriptive and disjointed. Mayes uses so many Italian words and obscure art references that you may be constantly looking up obscure references to understand. It doesn’t quite live up to Under the Tuscan Sun in my opinion.
One lesson I took away from this book is that Italians really know how to enjoy life. They aren’t counting calories with every meal. There’s no “kid’s menu,” but the children order the same things as the adults. They don’t worry about what they “should” be doing with free time, like cutting the grass or sorting through bills. This is the land of carpe diem, after all.
If you enjoyed Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence or are an Italophile, you will appreciate Every Day in Tuscany. I enjoyed many of the chapters, but not the book in its entirety. If I only had a small amount of room to pack books, I’m not sure this would make the cut. But I highly recommend that you pick up the book and decide for yourself.
>> Pick up a copy of Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life on Amazon
Join the Her Packing List email community!
Subscribe to get our latest packing lists, gear deals, and travel news by email.