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In Maremma: Life and a House in Southern Tuscany
Synopses & Reviews
In 1997 David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell bought a house in southern Tuscany: not a villa but a dilapidated farmhouse dating from the late 1950's and abandoned for more than twenty years. In Maremma describes the restoration of the house, as well as their initiation into a part of rural Italy — and a part of Italian life that foreigners rarely see.
Although the Maremma has always been the poorest province in Tuscany, it is also one of the loveliest and least spoiled: a patchwork of hills, mountains, and seascapes populated by butteri (Italian cowboys), wild boar, and farmers with extraordinary Magna Grecia names: Teracles, Omero, Ulisse. The authors render all this vividly; they give us a disquisition on how to prepare acqua cotta ("cooked water," the typical soup of the area) and a hilarious account of applying for an Italian driver's license. The pleasures of the olive harvest, of picking wild asparagus and of hunting for old furniture, are juxtaposed with the vagaries of political corruption and self-perpetuating bureaucracy; landscape and weather provide the stuff of reverie, as do the benefits of boredom, the longing for peanut butter, and the generosity of the authors' Maremman neighbors.
At once a celebration and an exploration of a little known part of Italy, In Maremma is also a fond if sometimes critical corrective to more rapturous portrayals of Tuscany. This is Tuscany seen from the inside.
"Through touching reminiscences, Leavitt and Mitchell show that they have found a Tuscany genuine in its people, landscape, food, and culture." Booklist
Book News Annotation:
Two US writers conclude their charming account of life in a non- chic Tuscan town with the insight that though they moved there "... to capture a dream less of Italy than of being foreigners in Italy, figures in a Forster novel," they have become Tuscans despite maddening bureaucracy and cravings for peanut butter. One wishes for a map, farmhouse remodeling photos, and observations on how they are viewed as an apparently gay couple.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In 1997 Leavitt and Mitchell bought a house in southern Tuscany, a dilapidated farmhouse dating from the late 1950s and abandoned for 20 years. "In Maremma" recounts their restoration of the house, as well as the gradual process by which two Americans became initiated into a part of Italy--and a part of Italian life--that foreigners rarely see. Illustrations.
About the Author
David Leavitt is the author of several novels and story collections including While England Sleeps and Arkansas: Three Novellas, and Martin Bauman; or, A Sure Thing. Mark Mitchell is the author of Virtuosi: A Defense and a (Sometimes Erotic) Celebration of Great Pianists. Together they edited the Selected Stories of E. M. Forster, and wrote Italian Pleasures. They divide their time between Gainesville, where Leavitt teaches in the Creative Writing program at the University of Florida, and their house in Maremma.
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History and Social Science » World History » Italy
Travel » Travel Writing » General