6 new books to deepen your knowledge of Tuscany

Fiction, art and walks

Mindy Burrows
May 8, 2018 - 14:18

Tuscany is bursting with plenty to learn without ever seeming like a school trip. The last six months have provided us with several new reads about the region. Whether looking for a way to spruce up your outlook on life, seeking information about the revered world of art restoration, hankering after some poetry to sink your teeth into or in need of a great guide to the home of the Renaissance, sift through this list of recently released books and open your eyes to new views about the world-famous land of wine and art.

 

 

The utopian novel: Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi

 

 

 

 

Heralded as the Florentine answer to Eat Pray Love, Kamin Mohammadi tells the story of a woman (herself) who flees London post-redundancy to Florence and how her life was transformed for the better. Influenced by the carefree way in which the people around her lives, Mohammadi learns the pleasures of Italian life and “how to live, love and eat the Italian way”. Full of charming characters and sprinkled with Italian recipes and relatable stories, this book can be seen as a guide for how to savour life in the way that Italians have for generations, a story of finding love (and self-love) in unlikely places and an evocative account of a year living in Florence.

 

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The dystopian novel: Welcome to the Tuscan Dream by Anna Lord

 

 

A complete contrast to Mohammadi’s love letter to the region, Welcome to the Tuscan Dream offers a harsher view of the region and exposes its ugly truths. Lord moved to Tuscany thinking the safe, beautiful landscapes in the heart of the Mediterranean would be the perfect place to bring up her children. What she discovered was entirely the opposite. In her sardonically titled autobiography, the author recounts the horrors that she was faced with during her time in Tuscany: the disparity between the rich and poor, the political disarray, the collapsing economy and the failing businesses, and exposes the “real” Italy in her thought-provoking eye-witness account of how a prosperous nation teetered on the brink of disaster.

 

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A feminist history read: Behind the Medici Men: The Ladies by Daniela Cavini

 

 

Everyone who has ever set foot in Florence has heard the tales of the Medici family, read about the dynasty that built the great Renaissance city and seen the countless statues of them and buildings in their name. Everyone knows that “behind every great man is a great woman” yet few know about the great women behind the Medici men: the mothers, the wives and the sisters. Cavini’s easy-to-read biographical snippets uncover the stories of these women and show how without them the Medici men would not have become even half as powerful as they were.

 

 

 

An art memoir: Masterpieces by Dianne Dwyer Modestini

 

 

What lies behind the works of art that we admire in the great museums of the world? What secrets do they hide? And what’s the best way to bring them to life again while remaining faithful to the artist’s original intention? In this book, based on a manuscript by her late husband Mario Modestini, Dianne Dwyer Modestini provides a captivating window on the world of art and restoration, much of which is based in Florence. Piecing together her husband’s memoirs, the restorer of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi has created a book that is simultaneously biographical, technical, artistic and historical.

 

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Poems for the environment: Intatto. Intact. Ecopoesia. Ecopoetry by Massimo D’Arcangelo, Anne Elvey, Helen Moore

 

 

This poetry collection written by three authors from three different fields gives individual views on how their homes have changed and what, if anything, remains intact in the world today. Massimo D’Arcangelo, from Siena, paints a vivid picture of Tuscany, while Elvey and Moore illustrate their experiences in Australia and Britain respectively. While very different people, with contrasting lifestyles, their attention to detail in the world around them and shared perspectives and desire for justice in their homes bring them together in this cohesive collection.

 

 

A walking guide: Strolling Through Florence by Mario Erasmo

 

 

Taking a walk through Florence is like taking a journey through time, from the city’s foundation, through the Renaissance, to one of the top cultural destinations of the 21st century. Stories of Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Medici permeate every corner of Florence and are best discovered on foot. Erasmo’s guide, including bespoke walking tours, maps and photographs, contains the key to unlocking the secrets of the city and seeing all of the major historical sites.

 

BUY IT HERE

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