Under the Tuscan Sun [Book Review]

If you’ve seen the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, you’ll know the story of recently divorced, middle-aged Frances Mayes. She meets Marcello, a handsome Italian who takes her from a villa in Tuscany to Positano on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

They eat with his family on the beach, drink homemade limoncello, and have a short-lived love affair.

Learn more about this beautiful tale that takes place in Italy. You’ll find out how the movie compares to the book and to the real Italian settings, below.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article with more helpful resources in June 2022.

Travel Italy Amalfi Coast Positano Limoncello

Under the Tuscan Sun: An Italian Memoire by Frances Mayes

Having seen the movie many times—it’s one of my favorites—of course I had to make a pilgrimage to Cortona, Italy.

That’s where the main character, Frances, impulsively bought a villa and Positano where she traveled with Marcello.

While I explored Cortona, I understood why Frances left her dismal life behind to begin anew in this ancient Tuscan village.

Isn’t it beautiful?!

Tuscan Countryside | Cortona | Italy

Related Article: Breakfast in Positano, Italy

The same was true of Positano.

As I walked the beach and listened to the Tyrrhenian Sea roar, I imagined the scene where Frances and Marcello walked along together.

They were flirting with the future.

travel italy amalfi coast positano beach

Later, ascending the streets of Positano perched high upon the hills.

I kept an eye on the balconies above for a handsome Italian man to call down to me.

Balcony | Bramasole | Cortona | Italy

No such luck.

But I remained enchanted by my Tuscan surroundings.

An avid literary fan, I decided to read the book that inspired the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun by (the real) Frances Mayes.

Under the Tuscan Sun Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun, Book vs. Movie

It surprised me to discover how different the plot of the book was from the movie I so loved!

Once I got past that minor disappointment, I embraced romantic descriptions of the Tuscan countryside.

I loved the story of Frances Mayes’ journey.

It is a love story of a different kind.

Still, it’s easy to understand how Mayes’ descriptions of Tuscany, Italian culture, and some quirky characters inspired my favorite movie.

Mayes is a master at articulating the richness of the Italian countryside. While reading, you may even feel transported to Italy, as I did.

Frequently Asked Questions About Under the Tuscan Sun

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Under the Tuscan Sun, below.

Is Under the Tuscan Sun a true story?

Yes. The book is a memoir of author Frances Mayes’ restoration of an old villa in Cortona, Italy.

What is Under the Tuscan Sun book about?

The book, Under the Tuscan Sun, is about the author’s experience of moving to Italy and restoring an old villa. In addition, it goes into beautiful descriptive detail about the Tuscan countryside and Italian culture.

What is Under the Tuscan Sun movie about?

Under the Tuscan Sun is about a recently jilted woman, Frances, who leaves her life in the US to vacation in Italy. That is, until she impulsively buys a run-down villa in the Tuscan village of Cortona.

On the surface, her focus becomes about restoring the villa. Yet, it became a healing journey, in which she makes Italy home and finds herself surrounded by a community of new friends.

The movie is an adaptation of the book by Frances Mayes.

Is Bramasole real?

Bramasole is a real Tuscan villa, but it is not the one you will see in the movie. The actual villa Frances Mayes bought and based her writing on is in Cortona. However, Villa Laura, also in Cortona, is the home shown in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.

Other Books By Frances Mayes Worth Reading

Below are several more great books by Frances Mayes. They will inspire you to embrace travel or life in Italy and beyond.

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Planning a Trip to Italy

And if you’re still dreaming of Tuscany, check out these insights on Italy:

Here are some useful tools for planning your trip abroad:

Final Thoughts on Under the Tuscan Sun

Whether you read this book for pleasure or to inspire or remember your trip to Italy, it’s a classic. Anyone who loves Italy will enjoy it!

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How Under the Tuscan Sun Compares to Italy
Travel Italy Tuscany Under the Tuscan Sun Book Review 1

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

5 thoughts on “Under the Tuscan Sun [Book Review]

  • May 27, 2020 at 8:42 am
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    Hey, Great job, Jackie. I really love this post and it’s the first time I am here on your blog–and really love reading here. Thanks, good work, keep it up!

    Reply
  • February 21, 2020 at 8:51 am
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    very nice publish, I actually love this web site. Keep on it!

    Reply
  • April 25, 2018 at 12:44 am
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    Good sound about Tuscan Sun. Villa Laura, located in Cortona Tuscany, The villa used in Under the Tuscan Sun – Bramasole. Villa Laura is a beautifully restored 17th century estate just outside the walls of Cortona, Tuscany available for weekly rental throughout the year.

    Reply

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