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In Primavera

April 24th, 2016

This photo, taken from the car window as we zoomed across the valley toward Cortona shows how green it already was here at the end of March. The house is one of the Leopoldini structures built in the 1700s to house farm families. With all the mania for restoration, I’ve never understood why these places haven’t been scooped up. People used to say it was because it is too hot in the valley in summer and too foggy in the winter but now that houses are insulated, heated, and cooled, this no longer explains. Arriving at Bramasole, I found my hillside of double daffodils almost over, and the white haze of wild hawthorne already turning out leaves.

Market day in nearby Camucia is Thursday and even though I was barely here, I headed down hill my first morning. The very first piece I ever wrote about the Cortona area was this market. Little has changed. People still come in from the surrounding villages, the men stand in groups talking while the women shop, the stalls spread over several winding blocks. This is an intact aspect of ancient life in Tuscany. Towns still have their market days and though the goods may have changed aspect, there’s still food, seeds, live poultry, clothes, shoes, and housewares. You can find a stylish handbag, I promise. I buy socks, dishtowels, cut flowers, and always a peper-wrapped packet of porchetta, the so-savory roasted pig lying on a chopping board. Everyone has a favorite stand. I have a favorite cheese stand too, though I buy vegetables and fruit all over.  Why I rushed there my first day back is that I knew that artichoke season is in full swing. Trucks arrive from the south and the artichokes are firm, fresh, and so cheap.

 These are the big ones. The ones I choose are the small, violet ones to trim, steam, and simply dress with a little lemon juice and our very excellent olive oil. Then you can eat ten! The citrus is a gift to the eye. We look for the juicy Tarocco, plus clementines that Ed eats several times a day. I’m sadly allergic to orange juice but I like a blue bowl of these in the house at all times.

Below, a lovely sight in spring–raw green almonds to crunch into. I think they’re an acquired taste–strong almond flavor but with an acrid little bite too.  They are definitely part of the spring foraging scene. So pretty the soft green with hints of lavender.

 

Bramasole always has been a haven for writing. This visit I am focused on Paper Doors (tentative title), the novel I started in the fall. Ed is writing a poem a day. Each one, he says, is a map of the unconscious without trying to filter through the conscious. Okay! He disappears into his study after breakfast and the door is closed until eleven or so. My habits are erratic and right now it turns out that the best writing time for me is 5-8 p.m. Fortunately for me, Ed loves to cook in the new kitchen and has been the chef almost every night. Our new stove has an oven rotisserie. Our old stove had one too but we never bothered to learn to use it. Now we are loving the pork roasts and plump chickens that are just totally easy. We are into easy this trip. We can buy fresh peas just shelled and they are such a short season treat that we have them several times a week, along with Ed’s favorite spring vegetable, agretti, which looks like a cross between chives and long grass. Just look at it and you know you’re absorbing vitamins. Artichokes, of course. The tiny ones are good raw, very thinly sliced with slivers of parmigiano and olive oil. Oh, before I forget, Bramasole Olive Oil won a gold medal at the big NY International Olive Oil Competition. We’ve won four years in a row. (Check out the oil at thetuscansun.com)

A very quick dinner, because we can get excellent veal scallopine here–saute (I can’t get the accent to work) some spring onions gently in olive oil until softened, slice 15-20 cherry tomatoes and add to the onions. Remove to a bowl and add a little more oil to the pan. Flour four veal scallopine and brown quickly on both sides. The flour becomes a bit crispy. Cooks quickly. Stir in the tomatoes and onions, squeeze in the juice of a lemon, tiny splash of white wine. Heat through quickly, sprinkle with parmigiano and bread crumbs. Done! Very good. We do the same with chicken tenders. I love fast food! This kind anyway.

With the work over, it’s easy to settle in and enjoy glorious April. I hold off for two weeks before I begin to plant. Weather can still turn on us. But by the 18th, I can resist no longer. The lemons are brought out of their limonaia, the room where they winter over, and trips to the garden centers begin. Last year we had trouble with wind blowing over the lemon pots, heavy as they are. We had the stonemasons make square bases, scored with a cross for drainage. They were so heavy that they were hoisted up by a crane, lowered with much ado, and cemented onto the ground for stability. Oh, what we do for lemons! We had to build a ramp so they could be maneuvered down two steps. But in place, eight laden trees light up the walkway to the house and allow me to thrust a bag of lemons onto everyone who comes over. We have other citrus scattered around, an orange tree, a kumquat, a cedro. Turning them in for winter, bringing them out in spring–those are the markers that begin and end the lovely seasons.

  

A few reading and traveling recommendations:

We frequently rent houses or apartments because we travel a lot with our grandson. Since he arises at five, a hotel room is not the best option. For me it’s not fun to look at hundreds of listings, so I was happy to find carefully chosen properties in all price ranges at  www.commendablerentals.com   Through them, we’re renting a place in Puglia with friends. I’m keeping this one bookmarked.  We’ve also had good luck with www.RomeLofts.com   For hotels, too, I don’t enjoy TripAdvisor popping up with a jillion undiscriminated choices. I go to tablethotels.com or to mr.&mrs.smith.com. Tablet has email updates on hotels around the world and I enjoy their descriptions. 

Since I’ve been chained to my desk, I haven’t read as much as usual this trip but I have enjoyed the short stories of Charles Baxter, A Relative Stranger. Every morning with cappuccino, I’ve been reading the poems of Greek poet George Seferis. Those Greeks–always mythic and stony and salty. Totally opposite the loopy Irish world of Joseph O’Connor’s Ghost Light. The writing here is so lyrical and heightened that I read passages several times. The narrative interested me less than the use of language. Two other widely praised novels I read were just so packed with useless detail (she opened the car door and swung out her legs, stood up and walked across the cracked sidewalk… that sort of thing) that I slogged through without much pleasure. No need to name them but they provided a caution for me in my own efforts! I most highly recommend the memoir Dimestore by the wonderful Lee Smith. It’s a book to buy and give to friends. On walks I’ve been listening to Sweet Tooth by Ian Mc Ewan. You have to choose audible books carefully and this is one I would have preferred in print. The discursiveness of it wsouldn’t have bothered me on the page because I could read fast or skim slow parts. The narrator has a lovely reading style but listening has been very drawn out. As always, I’d love to hear of good books from you!

Happy May!

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48 Responses to “In Primavera”

  1. Cristina says:

    Muito lindo,cada vez amo mais esses lugares,gostaria muito de estar aí.

  2. Michele says:

    Sitting here on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Alabama, I enjoyed the chance to stroll through the Piazza again and the delight of the life around Bramasole. You have me wanting to steam an artichoke, which I have never done! I am attempting to lay hold on one of the books of Ed’s poetry that Sarah picked up at the Purple Crow…but she has a tight grip on them at the moment. In due time I shall prevail.
    Thank you for the treat of stepping into springtime in Tuscany.
    Much love,
    Michele

  3. James Teague says:

    Hello Frances,
    I was delighted to read your latest entry on your blog, you always have the ability to touch my heart with your writing, I can so relate to the sights, sounds and smells in and around Cortona, I love the Porchetta vendors and remember my first sandwich in Cortona, my second at the market in Camacia, thanks for the reminds of why my brothers and I love the area. I am truely enjoying my olive oil and understand why it captured the gold medal…perhaps someday we will run into each other again, I look forward to my return to Bar Caffe Signonrelli in the piazza for a spritz and some people watching and local conversation.
    All the best to you and Edward
    James Teague and family

  4. Elaine Hayes says:

    Wonderful post, Frances! Beautiful pictures, made me feel like I was there. Top on my bucket list is a trip to Tuscany. Someday I WILL get there! Ciao!

    • Barbara says:

      Hi my name is Barbara
      Have you had the opportunity to go to Tuscany yet??
      It’s also on my bucket list .

  5. Carolyn says:

    Thank you for the beautiful worlds that your books drew me into, for leading me to Cortona, for letting me live vicariously through you & for giving me such wonderful memories!
    One of the best memories for my husband & me was our week in Cortona. Of course, like so many others, I wanted to experience Cortona because of your book. Cortona represents so much more since visiting. My husband Gary passed away after just one month of cancer in 2014. He was sad about many things he would never get to do again…knowing he was dying, but never being able to return to his “adopted home” in Italy was on the top of his list. I returned to Italy to place his cremains in a friend’s vineyard in Umbria. He is home! So thank you for introducing us to a country more magical than even your words could convey. I look forward to your next book & every book that follows.
    With Love & Thanks, Carolyn

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Carolyn, so sorry that you lost Gary. Now you must come often to Umbria, a lovely solace. Frances

    • Barbara says:

      Hi Carolyn
      So sorry to read about your lose..
      If you would like to re visit cortona I am looking for a travel companion..
      Italy is on my bucket list
      Unfortunately I can’t convince any friends to go..
      Regards
      Barb Harris

  6. Heidi says:

    Dear Frances, lovely to again hear your beautiful descriptive message and see your dreamy photos from your little slice of heaven, Bramasole/Cortona. Another year goes by for me with no plans to visit Tuscany, but if wishes and dreams would come true I would hop the first plane. Thanks for sharing….your journey. Mom at almost 96 years young keeps me anchored to home for the time being. As always I yearn to be off & running to see this land of enchantment….
    Thanks again for the visit! Heidi – USA-PA

  7. Cindy Mucci says:

    Dear Frances: Happy Springtime awakening in Italy! It is such a joy and a blessing to read your posts about the markets, the garden blooms, the artichokes and lemons!, and “everything” you share with us (back on the northeast coast, USA) about Italy and the newness and beauty of Spring there. (It actually brings “joyful” tears to my eyes, just being grateful to experience it through your words – Grazie!). Congratulations on your olive oil award, you must feel so proud!, and we will anxiously await your next book, as always. Please,in your spare time, continue to tell us all about what is going on in nature, etc. in Tuscany, and post your lovely photos, as nothing is too small a detail for our only “imagining” a life in Italy. Thanks for sharing your blessed life with us, because knowing what I have learned about Italy through your writings, and not being able to be there myself, I can feel “connected” to a far-away land! Bask in the “awesomeness” of each new day there!

  8. Scott Kenney says:

    Dear Frances: I think everyone who has been lucky enough to read your books AND visit Cortona must rush to the markets in Camucia on Thursdays–and we were no exception. We’re looking forward to our return visit this fall and are happy to have three Thursdays to spend roaming the stalls and soaking it all in. Such a special place and knowing we’ll be able to cook whatever we find–well, almost: I can’t picture whipping up a pot of tripe any time soon!–makes me smile. I think the simplicity of life in Italy (or, at least, that part of Italy) rings so loud and clear for those who visit because life here in New Jersey can often be hectic, with lines at gas stations and pharmacies, etc., that it’s almost like stepping back in time when you go through the market there. A simple pleasure! How nice to be able to enjoy it all. A tad gray here in New Jersey so I am hoping you’re facing bright blue skies and the joys of spring in Cortona! Best regards: Scott

  9. RiccardoDeMedici says:

    Another beautiful post!!! Thank you so much, Frances, for jogging my memory regarding the beauty of i mercati!!! They are such marvelous places!

    Nothing is ever more of a romance than the adventure of frequenting an Italian mercato. It is always that feeling of mystery and excitement associated with the love of the hunt! Going to the market and never knowing what you will find becomes a quest. Discovering that perfect seasonal thing to take home to devour and delight all the senses elates the mind and soul. The next day one gets to do it again! The anticipation becomes an addictive romance derived from necessity and gathering…

    It is a different kind of thing than visiting an American supermarket that is supposedly all about convenience… There one serves oneself impersonally and does all the work which is convenient only for the seller. It becomes an isolated non-event. It is often easy to think that a supermarket is about how to effortlessly get all that money from your pocket and into their cash register – being, of course, “convenient” only for them…

    There is something elegant about a mercato when you become friendly with a vendor and they become like family. The customer never touches a thing. When you say, “I am making a sauce for lunch and I need tomatoes,” you know that the vendor with all that knowledge will choose the very best just for you. It can become a lot like school when you ask for their expertise to learn how to identify a good tomato. All that service that one receives is so unlike a supermarket where there is no one to ask. There is something about all that trust that gives confidence in the vendor and creates a feeling of family. It is those vendors that sneak in their green potatoes that quickly become history and those that you love and give you confidence that become kin…

    Of course, there is always the excitement of the visual that tantalizes: colors against colors, tiny next to large, dark next to light, rough next to smooth and glossy… Sometimes it is the profumo of the apples or the peaches that send you into orbit… It can be anything that makes the taste buds salivate, the nose react, the eyes bug with delight and make you loose control of your faculties and willpower…

    There is just something about those people and their goods that stimulate and make shopping an important personalized experience. Perhaps it is that joyfulness that comes from their greeting – as if they haven’t seen you in fifty years, but it was only just yesterday. Every meeting becomes an unforgettable grand event like a family reunion.

    In this world of isolation for so many and that yearning for personal attention, everyone needs to feel a part of the world and mercatos make sense. How many times have I joyously floated home from the mercato like I was in a Chagall painting! That in itself helps to understand why so many Italians shop daily. I give a fervent vote for i mercati!!!

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Ricciardo–well said! I love that Chagall image of you flying over, trailing carrots and artichokes……. Frances

  10. Rick says:

    As someone who has never been a fan of winter, I’ve always taken great pleasure in watching the change of season from winter to spring, The gradual greening of the land and of course seeing all the local produce coming to market once again. Seasonal living at its best. And that includes Italy as well the US.

    It’s a pleasure seeing Bramasole in this post returning to the sun’s warmth and glow too. After 20 years of UTTS and so many years of your blog, I’m sure I am not the only one who feels a connection that wonderful land. I truly enjoyed my time in Cortona this past fall (and your gracious hospitality then as well!) I’ve always enjoyed the open air market days with the impossibly fresh produce, all of which makes me want to sit there, grab a fork and graze (and can’t!!) My wife and I had lamented that we wished we had a kitchen in our hotel room to cook in while we were there. That’s next on the horizon as we intend to rent properties while searching to buy. Cortona is still at the top of the list.

    I hope you can take some of the writing chains off and enjoy smelling the roses too. Speaking of which, did your favored Bramasole rose survive the winter and the renovations? Congratulations on the winning the gold with your liquid gold at the NYOOC… no surprise there at all. Can you give us a clue as to when any of the new books are coming out?

    A busy year up ahead for us as my daughters wedding in Rome approaches. For us after the wedding, the kids head off to France and us to Amalfi. We are thinking of getting a car again and driving across to Bari (two samll towns actually, Grumo and Bitetto), where both my father’s family and my wife’s mothers family come from. Always so much to see. I hope you’ll treat us to a blog on your trip to Puglia this summer.

    Be well my friend, enjoy this lovely spring and my best regards to Ed too!

    A presto,
    Rick

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Ah! Wedding in Roma! How glorious. Yes, the Bramasole rose survived and as soon as the rains stop will burst forth. What a hearty plant to survive three transplants as various parts of the garden met the fate of restoration. Hope you all have a wonderful trip! Frances

  11. Susan Doull says:

    Frances, how nice to see Commendable Rentals mentioned in your blog. Thank you so much. I am not in Rome right now and missing those beautiful artichokes, that you show and that we use to buy by the crate for €5, at our home in Sermoneta, just south of Rome. But we will soon be back in France where its all about the Aspargus in our local market in Uzès. I can never decide whether its the fat white ones or the various sizes off green and violet. But we eat almost nothing else while they are in season. But when in Rome, its carciofi alla Romano.
    All the best,
    Susan

  12. Joseph Teague says:

    Hello Frances,
    The picture you posted of the road to Cortona, reminds me of how excited me and my family gets as we approach Cortona! The sights, the sounds, the colors of the landscape, the smell of those lush rolling hills in Spring and Summer! Bless you for your post. Hope to see you again on the Rugapiana and in the Piazza sometime. Best Wishes to you, Ed and family.

    Grazie,
    Guiseppe

  13. Cathey Byrd says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and am entranced! Now I need to spend a few hours at our local San Diego bookstore and buy all the books of yours I’ve missed. I, too, listen to books almost daily and a series I have enjoyed immensely is the James Lee Burke novels, especially those read by Will Patton, featuring Dave Robicheaux. They are set variously in New Orleans, the Texas-Mex borderlands, and Montana. The writing is evocative and lyrical and the reading superb.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Cathey, I think Will Patton is the one who read ABSALOM, ABSALOM by Faulkner–he was marvelous! Thanks for your note. Frances

  14. molly giles says:

    Lovely. Like talking to you. There is definitely something about a 5-8 PM writing time that works and as for listening to books or reading them on Kindle…aagh…I get so impatient. Good luck with the novel, and wish me luck with mine – about to send the revision of the revised revision off to my unimpressed agent. xoxo

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Molly! I would love to read your novel! So enjoyed the short-shorts and have passed them around. Come to Italy! xxx

  15. Nancy Greco says:

    The rhythm of life seems to beat more beautifully in Cortona. My husband and I certainly felt it everywhere. I find nothing excessive in your determination to save your lemon pots. The one you photographed is gorgeous.
    If you will, please say hello to Donatella and Giusi for us.

    Thank you so much for all the lodging recommendations. How wonderful it is that you do all this research and then gladly share it.

    I have booked the hotel in Florence that you recommended. Hope you don’t mind that I said you had referred me. I am sure that guaranteed extra attention, thank you so much.

    I am going to re-read the Primavera chapter in your book. The beauty you describe has stayed with me all these years and will wash over me again.

    All best to you and Ed.

  16. Helen Swindlehurst says:

    We have just been to Cortona for Sunday lunch. It was busy today – everyone out in the sunshine. I loved the little market stalls outside the teatro. This is our first visit at this time of year. I loved the drive over past the fields edged with poppies. Thankyou for the photos of the market stalls and the tips for cooking artichokes as I have been looking but not bought any as not known how to cook them. A visit to the market in Camucia is definitely on the list of things to do during this trip. Plenty of time as we are hear until nearly the end of June. Well done on winning a gold medal. Is your olive oil available in Cortona?

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Helen, Thanks for your note. We hate to miss all the medieval festivities in Cortona! No, the olive oil is only available on line at thetuscansun.com
      But my vino is available in Enoteca Molesini and Bottega Barrachi and Trattoria Dardano! Can-cin! Frances

  17. Jeff and Lisa says:

    Dear Frances, we are slowly traveling across Italy for our 30th Wedding Anniversary. We call it our 30 for 30… 30 days of experiencing Italy something Lisa has always dreamed of. Five weeks but not counting travel days from one place to another….

    We just finished Under the Tuscan Sun saving the last chapter to read on the road up from the Park to Bramasole yesterday. What a lovely stroll up the hill, a perfect day – lovely lunch overlooking the Piazza and Geloto to celebrate when we returned to town…

    Thanks for helping us slow down and enjoy Italy… We would often take the book to
    Lunch or dinner and I would read to Lisa over a glass of wine… Perhaps we missed a “2 star” site in our Rick Steve’s book, but we have relaxed and enjoyed each other…

    Bramasole was beautiful!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  18. Paula Jantunen says:

    I’m a Finn living in at Lago Maggiore up north. I found your Tuscany books some ten years ago (living in Italy then, too) but only finally made it to see Cortona last Saturday. My visit was lamentably brief due to schedule constraints, but the town received me in grand style, what with medieval festivities starting just as I entered as a complete and very fun surprise. They even followed me as a procession all the way up to the Basilica! I also found your Tuscan cookbook in the bookshop – signed by you, as they pointed out to me at checkout. Thanks for your lovely books and for bringing me to Cortona, I do plan to visit again with more time to spend in town!

  19. RiccardoDeMedici says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You have enabled me to put pieces of a puzzle together and now it all makes sense!!! You mentioned Agretti. I scratched my head and said to myself, “That sounds like Lischi!” I looked up Agretti and found photos that looked like Lischi. With a bit more research, I found that they are one and the same. In Ravenna I buy them as Lischi. I have never seen Agretti. When I mention Lischi to friends in Puglia, Le Marche, Veneto, Sardegna or Lazio I am met with curious looks and no one seems to know what Lischi are. But they are delicious!!! That little puzzle has lingered for about ten years. The Internet has amazingly improved since I last looked and found nothing… However, the difference is that what I know as Lischi has a slight asparagus taste that lingers when braised. Thank you again! You put me on the right track to discovery!!!

    Happy writing!!!

    • orcagna says:

      To those who don’t react to either Agretti or Lischi, try Barba di Frate. What I used to buy as Puntarelle in Rome is in fact sold as Cimata at the Sicilian market stall in Stuttgart / Stoccarda… And don’t even think of all the names for some kind of fish (or that stoccafisso goes by the name of baccalà in Veneto)…

    • RiccardoDeMedici says:

      Thank you orcagna! I like that term Barba di Frate!!! Thinking of the friars with long chive-like beards amuses – very much an Archimboldo-like expression! YES! Those multiple names for things are confusing!!! You are so right about fish and those critters from the sea. I still cannot communicate with friends in Lecce about Capasante (scallops). Salentino cookbooks have been unhelpful. Drawing pictures has not helped as they confuse them with marshmallows. I wait for the day when they visit me in America to serve them “Marshmallows” St. Jacques to resolve the problem.

      Then there are “rosette” – that bread that is a crisp, hollow crust and minus the mollica (That word we do not have in English!). It is that perfect crust-lovers dream – a vehicle for transporting a delicious morning marmellata in bocca. One finds them as rosetta, rosette, rosetto, rosetti just in Rome – and having no gender!!! They are also known as michette or something else in other cities – which can make it difficult to get your morning rosetta fix in Verona if you do not know the local name… So you ask for Pane di Verona and the waiter looks at you strangely. You later learn that Pane di Verona is Torinese. Italy truly is a joyous Wonderland that exercises the mind!

      My friend, Alberto, tells me often that while in Italian they have many words for one thing, in English we have one word for many things – making English confusing to Italians… But that is not always true. It does not begin to explain what many words for one thing does to us! It also does not logically explain why there are fewer Italian words than English… I keep hoping that someone miscounted! Meanwhile, we confuse each other and joyfully try to make sense of all the word puzzles and are completely thrilled when we do! There is nothing quite like a well-exercised mind!

  20. Rebecca Wilkinson says:

    Hello, Frances. I am so happy to have found your blog, as it allows me to inject myself with a healthy dose of your writing, which cures me on even the bluest of days. I have hardly been able to set down “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and realizing how close I was to finishing it the other day, I rushed to the book store in a panic to look for another of your books. Luckily I was able to find “Every Day in Tuscany”, so now I can relax…at least until I’m nearly finished reading that one. The reason I came looking for a way to contact you is because I came across this in the last pages of Under the Tuscan Sun: “There’s always a mystery within a sudden attraction to a subject. Why is one suddenly lugging home four books on hurricanes or all the operas of Mozart?” It occurs to me that your writing is my hurricane, and I am so thankful to have found you!”

  21. Frank says:

    Hi Frances! It’s always a pleasure to read your blog posts for updates on Cortona and Bramisole. We met you a few years ago in the caffe on the square, and saw you last June at the Cortona Medieval Festival mercado. (What fun!) You were talking to someone, so we didn’t want to interrupt. We are looking forward to our stay this October with your friend, Ivan at il Pogio del Sol. If the timing is right we will help pick the olives! Can’t wait!

  22. Becky says:

    Hello Frances

    Do you have a favorite real estate agent for Tuscany that you would recommend?

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Becky, we enjoyed working with Lorenzo Lucani on the sale of our mountain house. Cortona has several reputable agencies. Good luck. Frances

  23. Hauw says:

    Dear Frances.
    We where in 2000 in Toscane,2002 in Umbrie,byfore I have read your book ” Een Huis in Toscane ”
    And we go twise to Cortona,we likes it very much,I was walking up to the museum.
    My husband was not zo good in walking anymore.
    He died March 29 this year,at 88 years old,I’am 84 years and not traffel any more.
    We have traffel an lot over the woreld,Italie is my favoriet countriy en the old beautiful places we have seen there.
    My English is not good,Im Dutch my husband was Chinees.
    Many greetings from Riet Nio.
    Naarden,Holland

  24. Robin says:

    Dear Frances,

    Thank you for sharing your journeys with us. My family is from Hillsborough and so honored you chose this area as one that you love. My husband and I are planning to embark upon a long desired trip to Italy (celebrating 25 years in 2017, we were married at the Webb/Hillsborough House) and would appreciate your input as to where we should visit on a 10-14 day visit.

    All my best, Robin

  25. Linda (tampa) says:

    A long drought on your blog, hope all is well.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Thanks. I’m having trouble with Word Press loading photos. No one seems able to figure out why. Hoping for some resolution soon!

  26. Robin says:

    Frances – so happy to hear of the win at the Olive Oil competition again. This is my second year enjoying your oil and it is just outstanding once again. I’ve stayed in Cortona several times and I can smell the earth there every time I open a bottle. I just love it. I’ll be exploring the north on my next trip in a few months so thank you for the house rental site. I’m off to check it out!

  27. RiccardoDeMedici says:

    Frances!!!

    The news of the terremoto last night was painful. The awful memories of L’Aquila continue to persist, as the problems there are still not resolved after seven years. So I think of the future of these new victims and worry and hope. One wants to be their savior and wield a sword in one hand and a magic wand in the other – one for their protection and the other for the fulfillment of their future dreams…

    I sit and listen to the tele for news of something positive and meaningful! But first I must watch pitiful American politicians squabble like children in the sandbox over nothing important and overshadow the news of people in pain…

    Wanting to physically do something to aid the attainment of the new dreams for the victims brings discouragement instead of hope – for I am helpless at the moment to do anything. If I am guilty of anything, I am guilty wishing for the ultimate solutions for happiness and joy for the victims.

    I hope you survived at beautiful Bramasole and the vibrations caused absolutely no reason for any degree of despair.

  28. Katherine says:

    I am missing the blog posts, they are less and less frequent, hope that things are OK.

  29. Andrea says:

    Dear frances,

    I met you in beaumaris, Victoria’s australia on your book tour for Under the Tuscan Sun many years ago. How fortunate I was to meet with you and hear your descriptive powers in person.

    Just finished watching the adaptation of your book to TV and enjoyed it immensely. Your book for me was a sheer pleasure and it sits on my bookshelf in the section, never to be parted with. It was a joy to read, it permeated my lifestyle with gingham tablecloths and bunches of herbs in my home and Italian cooking in abundance! Thank you for always sharing joy with your writing.

  30. Annmarie says:

    Dea Frances, I came across your books after seeing the film “Under the Tuscan Sun” Immediately fell in love with all your words of life out there. We have been to Italy 3 times, but only in the south, and due to circumstances will not be going again. However after reading your books so many times, now I only read them in the summer, when the sun is shining and I can sit in my sun room, and enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of where you live. Your words are very strong and always take me out to Cortona and Tuscany. Thanks for all your descriptions, they are real and I thoroughly enjoy my imagined trips out to where you live.

  31. Margaret Mullins says:

    Missing you on blog. Everything okay??

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Thanks for asking, Margaret. I’ve had major problems with WordPress and no one can figure out why. We’re still trying. I can’t upload photos–they gray out! Frustrating but hope to solve it soon. Right now we’ve figured out that I can email them to the publisher who can manage to post from there. Crazy! Frances

  32. Erin Eldridge says:

    Dear Frances,
    I just finished reading Under Magnolia and wanted to let you know how much I loved it. It must have been hard to write at times, but its sheer lyrical beauty and honesty drew me in so much I didn’t want it to end.
    Erin

  33. Marco says:

    How cool is this? I can send a note to Frances Mayes via a blog response. Anyway, I ended up on this site while searching for an obituary for Sig. Lucani of Cortona. His daughter Angela is a dear friend. Sig. Lucani was an artist who may have painted the stelar ceiling in an alcove of Bramasole. He explained once to me a few years ago, but my memory is foggy. Of course, like many around the world, my wife Lori and I have enjoyed your books. We lived in Eggi (just north of Spoleto) in 2008-09 and the rental house had a good library of Mayes, Eco, and Hazen cookbooks. Auguri, e Buone Feste!

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