August 28th, 2017

fullsizeoutput_9a34Dear Friends! Thanks to all who wrote asking if I’ve fallen off the sharp edge of the world. No. I’ve just been writing two books. Down the rabbit hole! The novel, Women in Sunlight, is finished and I even have a galley copy hot off the press. It will be published by Crown in April. The other, a travel book, is named for this blog: See You in the Piazza: Places to Discover in Italy. 

I am still traveling non-stop and writing as I go. This summer, I have been in the Dolomiti and Piemonte and Puglia and Lazio and Friuli! This fall I will be in Sicilia, Sardegna, Calabria, Le Marche, and the Veneto. Intense but exhilarating! I expect to finish by the end of November. These travel reconfirm what I already knew: Italy is endless!

Please don’t forget my blog; I enjoy the interaction and comments so much. If you have any little-known places you love in Italy, please send! I will be back to normal soon. Ci vediamo!

Above, a heavenly spot in the Dolomiti: Lago di Braies.


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52 Responses to “Reconnecting!”

  1. Veerle says:

    Ciao Frances! Nice to hear about your two new books. Also that you will be visiting Sardegna in fall.
    As my husband was born in Cagliari, I’m quite familiar with the Island.
    Next to splendid small villages where time stood still and great local food , I highly recommend a cocktail at sunset in ‘la Pailotte’ Calafighera Cagliari or a pizza at ‘Taboo’ in Porto Cervo.
    Hope to read soon about your Sardinian experiences !
    Enjoy ! Veerle, Belgium.

  2. Joseph Teague says:

    Frances, Hope to see you in the Piazza in three days. We arrive Saturday afternoon. Ci vediamo! Joseph

  3. Jeff Minnich says:

    Hi Frances, welcome back to your blog! We rented a villa, several years ago, on a hillside overlooking the little town of Greve in Chianti. Fabulous little town, with all the usual Italian go-tos: piazza, shops, tiny church (yes, with art)–all in a tiny scale. I’m sure you’ve been there–but, if not, it’s worth a visit! Ciao and see y’all when I see you! J.

  4. Mrsmeagher says:

    Nice to see you back! Can’t wait for your new books…!

  5. Soumya Didon says:

    Hello! So glad to hear from you. Just back from a dream holiday in a little agritourismo near Pienza. All thanks to you! Can’t wait to read your new books!
    Much love.

  6. Eloisa Cruz says:

    Great news!!! Two new books. And one about Italy!! Wonderful. Now we need one new cook book from all these trips. Hope to have both books soon published in Brazil where I live in São Paulo State. I was wondering what had happened to you. Thank God you are fine. I also thought it could be a health problem. I love your books and pictures from your houses and Italian cities. I really like travelling in Italy, especially Liguria and Tuscany. Lots of greetings from Avaré, Brazil!!

  7. P.A-nen says:

    Ciao, Hi !

    Pieve di Cadore / Belluno

    L’aria fresca, belli paesi, molti occhiali, anche il museo, e Tiziano Vecchiello 1490 – 1576. Il burro, buono, fresco, veramente delizioso. Mmmm…

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Belluno we missed when we were in that area. Must go back. Will check out Pieve di Cadore too. Thanks!

  8. Cindy Mucci says:

    Dear Frances: So happy to see your post on your blog is back (was afraid you ended it – I’m smiling (and curious) again)! Glad you are well and living the most blessed life ever (travelling Italy!!!). In my “next life,” I hope to come back as “Frances Mayes living in Italy.” Will joyfully await your new books in April, as you never disappoint us. Enjoy a glorious, beautiful fall season in Italia! (In Sicily, the town of Taormina is just lovely – Hotel Diodorio!). Never been to Sardinia – please do tell us all about it). Enjoy what each new day presents to you! Ciao!!

  9. Gabriela says:

    Ciao and welcome back. You have been missed. Cannot wait for your new books.

  10. EM says:

    Have just placed the novel on my list to get when it comes out. When does the travel book come out?

    Have you spent any time in Alto Adige/Suedtirol in northern Italy? I have the feeling it is rather undertouristed by the English-speaking crowd… and it combines some of the best of Italy and Austria. Beautiful scenery, excellent food and wine!

  11. Bozena says:

    Thank you so much for “A year in the world”-wonderfully relaxing. It was such a delight to sit in the garden, drink coffee and read your description of the places one would like to visit. Pity, there is nothing about Poland Maybe next time. All the best to you and your family.
    Bożena Kupis-Kucharska
    (Script translator)

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Bozena, I have since been to Poland and wrote about it in the magazine Smithsonian Journeys. Loved every minute! (My husband is Polish-American.) Thanks, Frances

  12. Joanne says:

    Dear Frances, looking forward to reading more of your blog! Re-reading Under The Tuscan Sun and falling in love with Italy all over again. Hope to travel there one day! 🙂

  13. Mary Lou Smrekar says:

    Hello Frances, so glad to find your blog!! My all-time favorite everything is UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN…. how I wish to visit. Next year my boyfriend is planning a trip there so my dreams can come true. Hope to get to see it all… Have a wonderful day!!!

  14. Gail Gregson says:

    Dear Frances,
    So very happy to hear from you. I have to admit, I was a bit concerned. I’m looking forward to the two new books. Gail

  15. Maria Gianoplus says:

    Hello Gorgeous!
    This is how my friend and I exchange greetings. It makes us feel great!
    I recently viewed Under The Tuscan Sun and the that movie!
    Love what you’re doing with Bramasole!
    My family and I visited Positano and Sorrento this summer. I was looking for Marcello! I didn’t find him but bit into a delicious chocolate covered cannoli shell with the smoothest cream. Yum!
    All the best to you!!
    Maria G.

  16. Lori Owens says:

    So glad to see you back on your blog and especially looking forward to your new books. You are a national treasure.

  17. Daphne Lockett says:

    I was so delighted to try your blood this morning and find your entry.
    In your last blood you mentioned going to Puglia. Last September, my husband and I spent a month in Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia. I kept searching your blog to discover your impressions of Puglia, but to no avail.
    Next September we are off for a month in the Dolomites and Lake Regions. So eager to read your new Italian travels book. Nothing could be truer: Italy IS endless!

    • Daphne Lockett says:

      Regarding my last response, please change blood to blog. My spellcheck has a mind of its own.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Daphne, just about to launch into writing my Puglia chapter. It was marvelous and I can’t wait to go back. We loved the Dolomites and Alto Adige. Be sure to go to Trento and see everything there, esp, the science museum, a total surprise and treat. Also the contemporary thermal bath designed by Matteo Thun in Merano. Thanks, Frances.

  18. RiccardoDeMedici says:


    Mamma mia!!! Those keyboard calluses on your fingertips must be driving you crazy! You are one busy woman! You just keep going at hurricane intensity and there just is no resting on your allori. Nevertheless, we are glad to see you emerge once again – and with a new book! Welcome back!!!

    I began to write a page or two to mention some places you might like to see in Sardegna. It is now 22 pages and still not finished. But that in itself suggests that it is that kind of place where you can get carried away in endless pleasure and all that charm that will captivate you in millions of ways!

    But those marvelous sites are such personal and subjective things! It so often depends on the moment as to what your experience will be. It took some places much longer than others to demonstrate their seductiveness. It was after much reflection and time (and age!) that I finally ‘took a shine’ to a few sites that failed to impress on first viewing. I was pleased to have found the needed panacea to understand. So often for me, it is the celestial experience that makes a site exciting and takes my breath away. Other times, when we fuss over nothing, like an old married couple, it ruins memories forever and thoughts of the site conjure up something I want to forget. So it is not always the site, it is probably more about one’s mood at the time that affects an experience. Why some places immediately knock your socks off, I do not understand, but often think it is some sort of magical spell that affects the susceptible. Why do other places leave you lukewarm and the degrees of warmth eventually change after months or years and allow you to unravel the mysteries and see it differently – and why is there suddenly that Aha! moment years later? Thank God, there is! It all makes recommending places to see difficult for me to do. After all, not everyone likes strawberry ice cream!

    My suggestions are to seek out the antique markets, the important museums, the mercati, tons of archeological sites, a few special churches and all the nature that God provides. Samples of luscious, never-seen pastries covered with sprinkles on honey or white icing in the window of a pasticceria always tempt – and the temptation is good – and gluttony, not always… Take a ride on the Trenino Verde and see the wild, mountainous Sardinian landscape – like D, H. Lawrence.

    I always fear that my suggestions might not ring people’s bells. But one of the major highlights of Cagliari is the Mercato di San Benedetto. It is the largest market I have seen in all of Italy. The first floor is devoted only to fish. One wonders what happens to all those unsold fish at the end of the day as Italians NEVER waste anything. The abundance makes one curious if there is anything from the sea that is not edible. How there could be so many fish in one market for just a single day? The second floor is like a “regular” market but with local produce that I have never seen before. It is the perfect place to put together a picnic to eat at a roadside pineta or while exploring the shore. Perhaps a local prisciutto d’agnello and fichi d’india, a roast chicken, local olives, pomodorini, butter pears or whatever might strike your fancy…

    The Monumental Cemetery of Bonaria is certainly worth a visit. The Cemetery leaves a whole new taste as to what a cemetery should be with its emotionally extravagant monuments that lack restraint and are amplified to the likes of which most have never seen. The typical Italian churchyard cemetery pales in comparison and truly makes you understand why people are dying to get into Bonaria.

    The National Archeological Museum in Cagliari is stunning. It is one of the few of its kind that I was not dragging and eager to leave half way through it. It grabbed my attention and like a Pit Bull, it would not let go! And I was glad! It will certainly open eyes to the ancient history of Sardegna and provide a major key to understanding the island. I am eager to go again! I am positive I missed something in the rush to see it all…

    One of the most interesting churches I have seen in all of Italy is the medieval Basilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia, just south of Sassari. All that irregular, linear zebra work of black basalt and white limestone is stunning in its inexact way. Those vertical windows that are narrow slits, maybe six inches wide and 2o feet long, provide a magical light inside – leaving one wondering how it was possible for that slit to light your life so beautifully. It is yet another church that reflects the Pisan style and its influence on Sardegna around a thousand years ago. Medieval does not always yank my chain like Baroque – but this church does! It may be that stunning mural in the apse.

    There is much to see as a tourist in Sardegna, but the greatest memories that changed my life are the people and the excitement they created. The days spent with a pastore tending sheep provided the kind of memories that nothing else has. Those memories have made the rest of Sardegna almost seem inconsequential. That experience of participating instead of being an observer that makes assumptions made the adventure so much more real and understandable. It brings forth the truth that much of the charm of Sardegna remains hidden, private and never found at some resort or park.

    These are a few suggestions. I do not even mention what may be one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. I hesitate to mention much, for you need to explore Sardegna and make it your own. And you will. Enjoy your visit! There is so much to see and experience!

    Keep on creating! R.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Oh, Riccardo, Thank you! And you are wise as well as smart and funny!! May I quote you about the market??? Many thanks for this and send more if you will!! Frances

    • RiccardoDeMedici says:


      Thank you for your kind compliments! Yes, you may quote me regarding the market. Your unselfish gesture is such an honor! If in the process of creating you decide that the quotation is no longer useful, I understand. You leave me speechless in a good way! Unfortunately, at the moment, I look at this blank document screen with a loss for words – overwhelmed and silenced by your gift of thoughtfulness. All I can think to say is, “Thank you for thinking of me!”


      PS: I am currently writing: “THE BEST OF ITALY: Never Following Umbrellas”. Maybe there is something among those adventures to edit and send – I will check. Like van Gogh, I just keep creating. Writing has become my idea of fun to entertain myself and keep from compulsive shopping online! I will look around in closed, dark files for appropriate pieces – the tons that have collected over time, as I have no agent or publisher hounding me for pieces. I think of sharing a bit about Puglia, but much of what I have written verges on dark and is not as frisky and as spirited as I would prefer it to be. At this moment we all need to escape to something vivacious and uplifting!!! We have enough dark in our lives!!! Cheering people, putting a smile on their faces, and enlightening the mind always seems to be the appropriate thing to do… We just cannot be kind enough to others!!!

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Oh! Guess what! I am writing THE BEST OF ITALY for National Geographic right after I finish this book. Signed the contract 6-8 months ago!! No umbrellas though…
      Thanks for saying I can pass on a bit of your response. Very kind!!

  19. Briony says:

    Hi Frances,
    Not related to your above post, but I am travelling to Italy with my family (husband, 2 daughters) and staying near Cortona around Christmas/New Year.
    I wonder if you can recommend anywhere to eat that will be open for Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day? I would love for the girls to experience a real Italian Christmas. We will have a car so can get around a bit.

    Thankyou so much, Briony

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Briony, not sure. I love winter here but many places are closed. Often, shops and restaurants use the low-tourist time to make repairs. Check La Buccacia, La Grotta, Osteria del Teatro. The restaurant in Hotel San Luca is excellent and maybe more likely to be open.
      Locanda Amorosa in Sinalunga is nice and also a hotel. There are sure to be many more in Florence. Have a great time.

  20. Ania says:

    Hi! I just want to tell you that I appreciate all of your books. And I can’t wait to read the next one. However I live in Poland so I suppose I will have to wait even longer than till April. I admire your hunger for travelling. That’s why I read your books every timer when I feel I need some changes. You have taught me how to see and adore the littlest things in my life.

    Best wishes,
    Ania Szymczak

  21. Judy Bowman says:

    Dear Frances, I have just finished 2+ weeks in Cortona where I looked (for the second time) at an apartment within the wall that I very much would like to purchase. In a brief message, could you tell me if you have ever had regrets about buying in Cortona re: the politics of same or the tax implications. Since I had to enter my email address above, I trust you could respond in private if you like. I have met you in Hartford, CT and Atlanta, GA, but never in Cortona’s piazza Repubblica! But I do think of you each time a pass Caffe Signorelli. Ciao and ciao. again. Grazie mille, Judy

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Judy, no regrets at all. One of my best decisions, ever! Hope it works for you. We don’t stay over the 180 day limit so are not subject to taxes. Politics? Anything is better than American politics right now!!! Good luck.

  22. Linda Salter says:

    In a time of despair for our beloved earth, re reading your stories has reminded me of the treasures and timeless continuity and value of appreciating each humble gift from the land, its memories, and the spirits eternal in each place. Thank you, for your hopeful stories entwining all the pasts, presents, and possibly futures of this amazing earth.

    Blessings, happiness, Love, and Peace to you and all you love.

    Maker of Images
    all the other things, hopefully yet to be.

  23. Barbara McDonald says:

    Frances, wow, what a stunning picture!! So happy you are out and about in Italy!!
    I am renting your house soon for an amazing 16 days and we are doing our photoshoot for Soft Surroundings catalog! We are so excited and wanted to partner with you on a few things if you were willing. We would also like to sell a few of your books in our store—perhaps the cookbook? (we have 52 stores around the country) Please let me know how to connect with you or if you would just like me to go thru your agent… : ) can’t wait to try the Pici pasta, u must tell us where to eat in Cortona!! : )

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Barbara, looking forward to seeing you. For anyone reading this, it’s a common misconception–the house of the movie is Villa Laura and it is a rental. The real Bramasole is our house and we don’t rent it. Sometimes people turn up at the door, expecting to check in!!!
      They get miffed when we point them down the hill! It will be fun to work with Soft Surroundings, Barbara! Ciao!

  24. Lyn Howell Hensel says:

    Dear Frances,
    I have just returned from a two week stay in Montescastello. My trip there and your books later have turned my world here on Hollywood Drive in Columbia SC to all things Italian. I feel somewhat like kin to you in that my old family folks were from Reidsville and Vidalia Georgia. My birthday project for October is to build a pergola next to my brick walled garden. I really don’t want Home Depot poles for my structure. Can you suggest a substitute? Thank you. Your words have filled my scrapbooks. Lyn Howell Hensel

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Kay, We’ve built pergolas out of slender tree trunks–very charming and rustic when covered with grapes, or with a mix of wisteria and climbing roses. Recently we had one made by a blacksmith with a metal roof. Love pergolas!

  25. Bikem says:

    Dear Frances, I have been reading your triology, and finished Everyday in Tuscany yesterday…I never been to Italy but would love to..I am fascinated about Italy without even being there….It reminds me of home, Istanbul, Turkey and Turkish culture but freer….I am a fellow writer and love your writing style, very vivid and alive…Now I will order A Year in the World…You visited Turkey in that book, can not wait what you said about my home country…I am glad, I discovered your blog…Maybe one day you can publish a book about writing, how you write, your rituals when you write….I write in coffee shops…Hopefully one day our paths cross…Blessinngs, Bikem….

  26. María Cristina Diana says:

    Hi Mrs. Mayes, i’m an argentine woman of 67 years and I’m just now in Cortona. Why? Because since I so the film about Toscana, even before read your book, I didn’t resiste to know this incredible town, although I had to wait until november 2015. Since that date I came here every year and also made friends. Yertesday I tried to find Bramasole but I made a mistake in choosing the way and arrived to the “Via Basolata Panoramica età Romana Imperiale” that you mention in your book and stoped my steps. Today I tryed again by walking since Piazza Garibaldi, a long way for my age, and finally arrived to that marvelous house without a ring to bell. I wanted only know you for a moment, tell you that it seams we partake the same infatuation whith this place and his people and for asking you autograph on my book in italian language. Perhaps I´m still in time? I live in Casakita B&B the phone is 0575603760 or 3895579893. I live on next sunday and I think to return in August 2018. I hope one day I can meet you. Thank’s a lot.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Maria, hope you had a good time. I just saw your message today. I would have been happy to sign your book.

  27. Joyce Hobbs says:

    Great news! I look forward to both of your new books. Welcome back!

  28. Sanja says:

    Dear Frances,
    I write here for the first time although I read both of your two books about Tuscany several times and even stood on the road ahead of Bramasole some 10 years ago, but I did not want to enter without prior notice.
    I’ve been writing a letter to you since February (mostly in my mind during the sleepless nights) but it’s sort of private and I’d like to get your private mail if possible.
    I think you’ll understand if I tell you I’m 55 and my marriage ended this year, long before I hoped and expected.
    I intend to rent a small apartment in November, somewhere around Cortona and I would be extremely happy to meet you and Ed, as I would be honored to help with olive harvesting.
    I work with creative art, I was Editor-in-chief of the design magazine for 12 years and last four years I worked for a Californian Tourist company as a Director of operations for Croatia and the surrounding Mediterranean countries. I am still writing articles about interior design for two Croatian magazines.
    I’d like to check on some real estates in Tuscany. My wish to spent, at least, part of my life there is a
    long lasting desire.
    Now, as almost all conditions have been fulfilled, I read Under the Tuscan Sun over and over again and browsing the estates on Google. Your book is always giving me hope and takes me out of the blue…
    I know that you are exceptionally busy, but I sincerely hope that I will have an opportunity to connect to you via e-mail as well as eventual meet with you and Ed.

    Great embrace to all the inhabitants of Bramasole

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Sanja, please send me a private message via Facebook. Our olive oil is in–we just got to taste it last week. Hope you have a lovely visit here. We are going back to the US in two weeks. Ciao, Frances

  29. Kyle says:

    My grandmother’s old home town of Craco, Basilicata in the south is a fascinating, ancient throwback of a place. It looms high on hilltop in the ‘calanchi’, the chalk like hilltops stretch far, it has been the location for many famous movies including “The Last Temptation of Christ” and a beautiful, now abandoned village. Also, one can get a true feel of what life was like during Carlo Levi’s exile in the land of the ‘mezzogiorno’ which he famously wrote about in “Christ Stopped at Eboli”. Stay at Francis Ford Coppola’s beautiful restored boutique hotel Palazzo Margharita nearby in his hometown of Bernalda. I’m sure you’ve been to Matera also, but there is so much in Basilicata that speaks of old Italy.

  30. Put says:

    Ciao !
    In Deutsschland es gibt ein schönes Lauscha (Thuringen Schiefergebirgen)
    -glasgugelindustri, christbaum schmuck und Museum of Glass Art Lausche, Germany

    Vicino a Saltsburg c’e’ un piccolo paese Hallstatt. Molto carino. Un’antica locanda di montagna al lago alpino. La roccia di sale.

    Colorful and peaceful autumn !

  31. LeAnne Barber says:

    Hello Frances – happy you will resume your blog, as it is such a pleasure to read, and especially happy to know you have two new books coming soon. I’m rereading your memoir. You were South; I was Midwest. As we are of the same generation, even though our regions have many differences, we have much in common, growing up during that time. It was such a lovely time. Extended family, food, a little drama (that mostly went over my head; oh, how I wish I could fill in the blanks now!).
    Looking forward to that olive oil that will soon be on our tables.

  32. Tim Weldon says:

    I’m thrilled that I’ll soon have some fresh Frances Mayes fiction to read. Although you don’t know me (by name), we met a few years ago at Trattoria Dardano. My wife, Anne, and I return to Cortona for nine weeks beginning in December. We hope to see you during our stay, even if it’s a brief glimpse across the Piazza Repubblica.

    • Frances Mayes says:

      Tim- ah, you’ll be here in the very quiet season. We will be back in the US then. Have a great time.

  33. Lotti de Wolf says:

    Dear Frances,
    In one of your books you write about the Madonna del Parto in Monterchi and that you don’t know any other picture of the same subject. A few weeks ago I discoverd one, in a bedroom at the Casa Davanzati at Florence there is a small picture of a Madonna del Parto, earlier than the one at Monterchi .

  34. Shea McCloughan says:

    Hello! I sent a direct message to your facebook author page today. It’s about how something in Under the Tuscan Sun affected me in a surprising and delightful way. It’s slightly personal and I feel too shy to post it here. I was concerned that you might not see the message so I thought I would drop a note in a site to which you have more recently responded. Thanks so much! Blessings!

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