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The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbriaby Marlena de Blasi
Synopses & Reviews
With the breathless anticipation that seduced her readers to fall in love with Venice and then Tuscany, Marlena de Blasi now takes us on a new journey as she moves with her husband, Fernando, to Orvieto, a large and ancient city in Italy's Umbria. Having neither an edge to a sea nor a face to a foreign land, it's a region less trampled by travelers and, in turn, less accepting of strangers. So de Blasi sets out to establish her niche in this new place and to win over her new neighbors by doing what she does best, cooking her way into their hearts. (Her recipes are included.)
Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, her memoir is by turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, as she searches for the right balance in this city on the hill, as well as the right home — which turns out to be the former ballroom of a dilapidated sixteenth-century palazzo.
De Blasi meets and makes friends with an array of colorful, memorable characters, including cooks and counts and shepherds and a lone violinist, and their stories, too, become a part of the tapestry of life that she weaves for herself in Orvieto. With a voice full of wonder, she brings to life these engagingly quirky people and the aloof, almost daunting society that exists in Umbria. Not since Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence has a writer so happily succeeded in capturing the essence of a singular place and in creating a feast for readers of all stripes.
"Following A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany, de Blasi's new book, set in Orvieto, is ostensibly about her effort, with her Italian husband, first to find, then to renovate and at last to move into the ballroom of a splendid, dilapidated medieval palazzo. The renovation becomes an engrossing portrait of the town and some of its inhabitants. Nothing goes according to plan or schedule, but de Blasi uses the years (literally) of waiting to explore the life of the town, centering on the home-based caff-kitchen of her friend Miranda and the caff's patrons. De Blasi's exuberance and her American disregard of Italian class distinctions at times distress her new friends and also her husband, but eventually, almost by accident, she pulls off a coup of diplomatic dtente just after they finally set up housekeeping in the palazzo. Vvid writing and an affectionate appreciation of the sounds, scenes and flavors of Italy, as well as of the somewhat eccentric Umbrians she meets, will charm lovers of that country." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"De Blasi's book will make you hungry....Recipes are included, so in the end, de Blasi's Umbria may or may not be a place you need to visit, but, thanks to this book, it will already be a place that you have 'tasted' and 'seen.'" Library Journal
"De Blasi is a skilled, quirky writer; her prose is by turns reserved, rococo, earthy and, above all, fresh-fresh, like rich cream andstrawberries, she might say. Delicious." Kirkus Reviews
"This tale...tells of the frustrating mysteriousness of doing business in Italy....At the heart of this memoir...is the continuing love story of a later-in-life romance." Philadelphia Inquirer
Touching and humorous, Marlena de Blasi’s account of moving with her husband, Fernando, to Orvieto, the largest city in Italy’s Umbria, is a story that will appeal to anyone who delights in travel and shares the fantasy of beginning a new life in a very different place. By turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, it is a tale of the couple’s search for the right home—which turns out to be the former ballroom of a fifteenth-century palazzo—and for the right balance in their lives, in this case making friends of cooks, counts, shepherds, and a lone violinist. It is a tale, too, of an American woman finding her niche in a society bound by tradition and seemingly closed to outsiders. With a voice full of wonder, de Blasi brings to life these engagingly quirky people and the aloof, almost daunting society that exists in Umbria. Not since Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence has a writer so happily succeeded in capturing the essence of a singular place and creating a feast for readers of all stripes.
Marlena di Blasi seduced readers to fall in love with Venice, then Tuscany, with her popular and critically acclaimed books A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany. Now she takes readers on a journey into the heart of Orvieto, an ancient city in the less-trodden region of Umbria. Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, her tale is by turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, as she and her husband search for a home in this city on a hill—finding one that turns out to be the former ballroom of a dilapidated sixteenth-century palazzo. Along the way, de Blasi befriends an array of colorful characters, including cooks and counts and shepherds and a lone violinist, cooking her way into the hearts of her Umbrian neighbors.
Brimming with life and kissed by romance, The Lady in the Palazzo perfectly captures the essence of a singular place and offers up a feast—and the recipes to prepare it!—for readers of all stripes.
Orvieto, an ancient Italian city rising above the cliffs of Umbria, is among the most dramatic in Europe. It is here that Marlena de Blasi, author of the national bestseller A Thousand Days in Venice, sets out to make a home—in the former ballroom of a dilapidated sixteenth-century palazzo—and win over her neighbors, who include artisans, counts, shepherds, and a lone violinist. Though wary of a stranger in their midst, they find her passion for the fine arts of cooking and eating irresistible, and together they create a spectacular feast as breathtaking as the city itself.
By turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, The Lady in the Palazzo seductively captures the essence of a singular place.
About the Author
Marlena de Blasi has been a chef, a journalist, a food and wine consultant, and a restaurant critic. She is the author of A Thousand Days in Venice, Regional Foods of Northern Italy, and Regional Foods of Southern Italy.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Next House
1. A Life Lived Well Moves Backward
2. Truth, Hard and Ho, Has Its Pleasures
3. Once in a While, Let Life Shape Itself
4. Life Is Lived in Epochs
Part Two: Waiting for a Ballroom
5. That’s Umbria Out There
6. Everywhere in Orvieto This Is the Suspicion of Glory
7. Bombastes Is Back in Town
8. Umbria Is Italy Unmingled
9. She Says People Need to Be Together as Much as They Need to Eat
10. Besides, They All Have Something of the Ass about Them, Chou
11. I Preferred One Waltz with a Beauty to a Lifetime with Someone Less Rare
12. Wait until Midnight If You Can
13. Sleep Well and Rise Early to an Exuberance of Bells
14. Most All of Us Abide in Ruins
15. I’d Like to Have Hair the Color of Hot Copper Wires
16. And Be Careful of Edgardo d’Onofrio
17. The Orvietani
18. We’re Going to Live in a Ballroom, Fernando. Isn’t That the Most Wonderful Thing You Ever Heard?
19. Brahms at Eight O’Clock from Across the Vicolo
Part Three: In Via del Duomo
20. Where I Come From, We Invite Our Neighbors and Friends to Supper
21. Black Ties and Party Dresses
22. Would the Lady Be Pleased by a Waltz?
Pan-Sautéed Winter Pears with Pecorino and Walnut Focaccia
Umbrichelli with Olivada
Leg of Spiced Pork Slow-Braised in Red Wine with Prunes
Roasted Chestnut Polenta
Brown Sugar Gelato with Caramelized Blood Oranges
Warm Sambuca Fritters
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