A Summer Journey

"I came to Italy expecting adventure. What I never anticipated is the absolute sweet joy of everyday life - la dolce vita."
Frances Mayes, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy
After finishing my most recent book and with a Los Angeles summer in full force, I perused my bookcases for something more to read. Thinking it best to join the sustainable battalion, I decided to arm myself with a book from my very own library; a "recycled" book, if you will.  From across the room, in the middle of a square shelf, I spotted the dust cover with white print on a green background - Bella Tuscany - the Sweet Life in Italy, by Frances Mayes. Thinking I wouldn't read beyond the first few pages (I usually don't enjoy re-reading a book), I am now well into it. I've traveled with Frances and Ed to Sicily, planted the garden alongside the author and her real estate broker / gardener, Anselmo, and this morning we were in Venice, sailing in a gondola.
Ms. Mayes is not just a travel writer, but, a very fine writer. I would like to share a line just read. In writing about her childhood in  Georgia and balancing her career, her teaching, her life generally, she writes, "What comes from my own labor and creativity, regardless of what anyone else thinks of it, stays close to the natural joy we all were born with and carry always." This can only be proven through experience; the experience of performing a creative work - the process of creating - shifts us into a position of "...natural joy".
This is the perfect book for summer reading - or for that matter, any time where dreaming and imagining are desired. Fine writing about travel, Italy, food, wine and garden. Perfect.
If you haven't been to Italy - or if you haven't read this or Ms. Mayes' other books, you must begin with her first book concerning the purchase and restoration of an old Tuscan farmhouse: Under the Tuscan Sun. Then make your way to and through her other books. Without leaving your home, you will imagine yourself becoming an informed and seasoned traveler.
Jacket Photographs by Steven Rothfeld
Jacket Design by Aiako Hosono, Matteo Bologna and Roberto De Vico Ce Cumptich


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