A Italian Memoire by Frances Mayes
If you’ve seen the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, you’ll know that recently divorced, middle-aged Frances Mayes meets Marcello, a handsome Italian who takes her to Positano, Italy. They eat with his family on the beach, drink homemade limoncello, and have a short-lived love affair.
Having seen the movie many times–it’s one of my favorites–of course I had to make a pilgrimage to Positano while visiting Italy. (I also made the trip to Cortona, where Frances bought a villa; more on that later.) As I walked the beach and listened to the Tyrrhenian Sea roar, I imagined the scene where Frances and Marcello walked along together, flirting with the future. Later, navigating the winding streets of Positano, each with stunning views of mountains and sea, I kept an eye on the balconies above for a handsome Italian man to call down to me… No such luck, but I remained enchanted.
Avid literary fan that I am, I decided to read the book that inspired the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun by (the real) Frances Mayes. I was surprised to find it was very different from the movie I so loved! Once I got past that little disappointment, I enjoyed romantic descriptions of the Tuscan countryside and the true life story of Frances Mayes’ journey. I understood how descriptions of Tuscany and some quirky characters could inspire the movie. But, it is truly a horse of different color. Nonetheless, I found the setting, culture, and characters delightful. Mayes’ is a master at articulating the richness of the Italian countryside; No doubt, you will feel as though you are in Italy while reading.