From the Publisher
In this sequel to her New York Times bestsellers Under
the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany, the celebrated
"bard of Tuscany" (New York Times) lyrically chronicles
her continuing, two decades-long love affair with Tuscany''s
people, art, cuisine, and lifestyle.
Frances Mayes offers her readers a deeply personal memoir of her
present-day life in Tuscany, encompassing both the changes she has
experienced since Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella
Tuscany appeared, and sensuous, evocative reflections on the
timeless beauty and vivid pleasures of Italian life. Among the
themes Mayes explores are how her experience of Tuscany
dramatically expanded when she renovated and became a part-time
resident of a 13th century house with a stone roof in the
mountains above Cortona, how life in the mountains introduced her
to a "wilder" side of Tuscany--and with it a lively
engagement with Tuscany''s mountain people. Throughout, she
reveals the concrete joys of life in her adopted hill town, with
particular attention to life in the piazza, the art of Luca
Signorelli (Renaissance painter from Cortona), and the pastoral
pleasures of feasting from her garden. Moving always
toward a deeper engagement, Mayes writes of Tuscan icons
that have become for her storehouses of memory, of crucible
moments from which bigger ideas emerged, and of the
writing life she has enjoyed in the room where Under the Tuscan
With more on the pleasures of life at Bramasole, the
delights and challenges of living in Italy day-to-day and favorite
recipes, Every Day in Tuscany is a passionate and inviting
account of the richness and complexity of Italian life.
About the Author
In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan
Sun and Bella Tuscany, Frances Mayes is the
author of the travel memoir A Year in the World; the
illustrated books In
Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany
Home; Swan, a novel; The Discovery of
Poetry, a text for readers; and five books of poetry.
She divides her time between homes
in Italy and North Carolina. Visit France
Mayes's blog at www.francesmayesbooks.com.
Every Day in Tuscany Readers' Guide
About this Guide
Celebrating friendship and the pleasures of life in a beloved
corner of Italy, Every Day in Tuscany is a book that is
meant to be shared. Gather your friends for a special reading-group
experience, feasting on the recipes as well as Frances Mayes's
evocative reflections on the timeless beauty of Cortona. We hope
that the following topics and questions will enhance your
In 1990, Frances Mayes made a daring decision to restore an
abandoned thirteenth-century villa in the lush Tuscan countryside.
Approaching the twentieth anniversary of that life-changing
experience, she began to write a sequel to her previous bestselling
memoirs, offering a deeply personal narrative of the changes she
has experienced since Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella
Tuscany first appeared. One incident, in particular,
becomes a touchstone for memory, forgiving, and surprise. The
result is a captivating tour of renewal among the townspeople of
Cortona as the seasons unfold. From the treasures of the garden to
the enduring triumphs of Renaissance painters, Mayes writes of a
place where beauty thrives.
No longer a newcomer, she welcomes us back to her other homeland,
where strangers become cherished friends, communities thrive by
resisting the hectic pace of the modern world, and families honor
their rich history. And always there is succulent cooking: a hearty
seafood stew, a seasonal plum tart, and much more, in recipes
captured in each chapter. You don't have to cross the Atlantic to
relish the daily joys of Tuscany. Its enchanting hillside landscape
and the vibrant people who inhabit it are brought vividly to life
on the pages of Every Day in Tuscany, a book that beckons
you to savor it again and again over the years-just as Frances
Mayes has done in her twenty-year love affair with one of the
world's most endearing locales.
Questions for Discussion
1. Frances Mayes explores the process of "taking" a decision
(rather than making one) and being taken by decisions as well.
Italy, she writes, took hold of her and shaped her in its image.
How has she been transformed by her second home over the past two
decades? What impact has she made on the community of Cortona? What
decisions have "taken" you in your own life?
2. In the opening pages of Every Day in Tuscany, Frances
Mayes describes an unsettling dream she's had in which she must
choose between her house, Bramasole, and her right arm. How does
she grapple with her sometimes conflicting feelings about
Bramasole? What spurs her to occasionally consider living without
it? What makes our relationships to our homes very different from
relationships with other material possessions?
3. From cold spring rains to the lavish scent of lemon trees at
their peak, Mayes describes a community that is constantly aware of
nature. Discuss the seasonal aspects of life in Tuscany. Is your
life in tune with the seasons? What can we gain by listening to the
4. Much has changed on the world stage since Mayes's early days in
Cortona. How do her Italian friends perceive her American identity?
What are some of the cultural challenges of her expatriate life?
5. Discuss the many kinds of love that are captured in Every
Day in Tuscany: between Ed and Frances; among their friends
and family members; of place; and of life itself, in all its
everyday joys. What does it take to bring more love into a
6. Mayes describes the economic factors she encounters in decisions
large and small, and in the lives of those throughout Cortona. How
does she measure "costs" (financial and emotional) as she and Ed
prepare for the next chapter of their lives? How is security
measured and defined in a world that is not driven by
7. What were your reactions as Frances and Ed discussed major
renovations for Bramasole? Would you have simply replaced the roof,
or would you have said yes to the extensive changes? To what extent
is the imperfect state of Bramasole part of its charm?
8. Hospitality is a key component to life in Cortona. Does your
community emphasize hospitality to the same degree? Why do you
suppose this is so? Why is it revitalizing for Tuscan families to
host many friends?
9. Every Day in Tuscany unfolds as a series of beautiful
images and powerful memories. How did Mayes's voice as a poet shape
the format of this book? How does it mirror the way life
10. Mayes describes the threats she received after signing a
petition against a proposed swimming pool near her property. What
does this incident tell us about the encroaching modern world and
Cortona's attempts to remain unspoiled? Compared to Americans, how
do Italians handle resistance? What are the strengths and
weaknesses of both approaches?
11. Mayes's memoir includes several recollections of threats and
sorrows she and Ed have experienced in the United States and
abroad. What does she offer as the best antidote to fear and
tragedy? How have she and Ed created "safety" in their lives?
12. Discuss the children who visit Bramasole. What is Mayes's
legacy to them? What aspects of life in Tuscany do you predict will
remain unchanged for many generations to come?
13. As you read about Lucas Signorelli's works, what timeless
aspects of his culture came to mind? Would he feel at home in
Frances Mayes's Tuscany, just as she feels at home immersed in his
14. What universal truths did Mayes learn from Willie Bell? What
aspects of a southern childhood does Mayes carry with her, no
matter where she lives? What aspects of your childhood are forever
part of your own identity?
15. Renewal and moving forward are primary quests in this book.
What tactics and solitary pursuits described here might you
16. In addition to Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes's
previous nonfiction includes Bella Tuscany and A
Year in the World, as well as the illustrated books
Bringing Tuscany Home and In Tuscany. Discuss the
ones you have read. What are the constants in her life? At the same
time, how do her books inspire us to constantly reinvent ourselves?
About the Author
In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun
and Bella Tuscany, Frances Mayes is the author of the
travel memoir A Year in the World; the illustrated books
In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home;
Swan, a novel; The Discovery of Poetry, a text
for readers; and five books of poetry. She divides her time between
homes in Italy and North Carolina.
About the Book
In this sequel to her "New York Times" bestsellers "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Bella Tuscany," the celebrated bard of Tuscany ("New York Times") lyrically chronicles her continuing, two decades-long love affair with Tuscany's people, art, cuisine, and lifestyle.