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Titre : In Maremma: Life and a House in Southern ...
Éditeur : Counterpoint
Date d'édition : 2001
Reliure : Soft cover
Etat du livre : Very Good
Etat de la jaquette : No Jacket
Signé : Signed by Author(s)
uncorrected bound galley;softcover;signed by Leavitt 0.0. N° de réf. du libraire 2485
Synopsis : A delightfully warm and intimate portrait of life in a small rural town in Tuscany . In Maremma recounts David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell's restoration of a dilapidated 1950's farmhouse in southern Tuscany and the process by which they became initiated into a part of Italian life that foreigners rarely see. The pleasures of the olive harvest and picking wild asparagus 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 and the longing for peanut butter. A celebration and exploration of a little-known part of Italy, In Maremma is also a fond if sometimes critical corrective to other more rapturous portrayals of Tuscany. "An old house, a poor province, and two adventuresome guys (who happen to be great writers!). Join them in restoring the old place and getting into the life of the Maremma. Along the way they find themselves becoming Italians, savoring the acqua cotta and learning the difference between a frustone and an aspide." Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage Corte Madera, CA "The lovely effect this [book] has is that you don't yearn to uproot your entire life and move to Italy, as some of us might after reading [Peter] Mayle's accounts of France. Instead, you drive down your own Main Street in the morning, wherever that might be, and you notice the people having their cappuccino outside. You notice the people washing their cars at the local car wash. You watch yourself drop off your own children at school as if, for one glorious moment, you were a traveler, a tourist, a visitor, a foreigner. The mundane is made charming. Priceless."Los Angeles Times Book Review"Learning to do things 'the Italian' way coupled with the complexities only gay men can impart to creating a home proves to be an ultimately rewarding (and entertaining) endeavor. "Genre Magazine
Critique: Thanks to authors like Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes, a whole subset of travel memoirs is now devoted to the theme of restoring old houses in Europe. While most authors use the home as a vehicle to examine the surrounding culture, David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell tilt their measure decidedly on the side of home decor. "Nothing tells you more about a people than their houses," Leavitt and Mitchell write, as they set out to "construct a past based on our own private notions of comfort, upon which we could glance with pleasure in some hypothetical future." While initially daunted by the task of restoring a country house in bureaucracy-plagued Italy, the two dive in with gusto when they find Podere Fiume (River Farm) in Maremma, a little known part of Tuscany. Unlived in for more than 20 years, the farmhouse's downstairs is composed entirely of animal stalls, complete with stone troughs, while its two acres are lined with olive and fruit trees and a small creek. The authors tell of tapping into the Italian tradition of craftsmanship, taking on iron-fitters, lamp and lampshade makers, wood carvers, and furniture restorers. They design their own couch, reconstruct an 1803 fireplace, and commission a copy of an 18th-century Venetian bookcase with secret doors for CDs. They even recount the paint colors and fabric designs they consider. Needless to say, the density of detail they devote to their decor will mostly be of interest to those who pour over design magazines like House and Garden and World of Interiors, as the authors do. Fortunately, they also devote some of their short but precise chapters to humorous and telling bits about Italy--the habits, feuds, and "poetry and madness" of Italian bureaucracy--as well as to portraits of some of their more interesting neighbors, such as Pepe the iron-fitter and Pina the restaurateur. Written from the point of view of expatriates who live among but are not of, In Maremma offers an interesting, sometimes overdone and other times right-on-target portrait of a less glamorous if no less interesting part of Tuscany than Frances Mayes's. --Lesley Reed
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