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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 Blasiand#8217;s account of moving with her husband, Fernando, to Orvieto, the largest city in Italyand#8217;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 coupleand#8217;s search for the right homeand#8212;which turns out to be the former ballroom of a fifteenth-century palazzoand#8212;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 Mayleand#8217;s A Year in Provencehas a writer so happily succeeded in capturing the essence of a singular place and creating a feast for readers of all stripes.
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.
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.
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