Synopses & Reviews
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.
“[De Blasi’s] poetic writing style, her meditative internal monologues, her celebration of traditional foods and her inclusion of a number of recipes from the region, make this a feast for armchair travelers, food enthusiasts, romantics and anyone who enjoys a good story with a happy ending.” –Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram
"De Blasi doesn't so much observe life as devour it. . . .Her robust appetite for life saturates the book."—Entertainment Weekly Entertainment Weekly
"At the heart of this memoir is the continuing love story of a later-in-life romance. . . . Wow!"—The Philadelphia Inqurier Philadelphia Inquirer
"A third sumptuous volume about the author's quest to find a home in Italy....De Blasi is a skilled, quirky writer; her prose is by turns reserved, rococo, earthy and, above all, fresh—fresh, like rich cream and strawberries, she might say. Delicious."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review Kirkus Reviews
"De Blasi is a skilled, quirky writer; her prose is by turns reserved, rococo, earthy and, above all, fresh. . . . Delicious."—Kirkus Reviews, starred Kirkus Reviews
"Perfect for armchair travelers, foodies, or any reader who loves a romantic story about the joy of discovery in a foreign land."—Pages Pages Magazine
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.
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
An American chef and food and wine journalist, Marlena de Blasi has written five memoirs, a novel, and two books about the regional foods of Italy. She lives with her husband in the Umbrian hilltown of Orvieto. Her work has been translated into twenty-six languages.
Table of Contents
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 EpochsPart 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 VicoloPart 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?The Feast
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