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In Maremma: Life and a House in Southern Tuscany

Leavitt, David and Mitchell, Mark

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ISBN 10: 1582432112 / ISBN 13: 9781582432113
Edité par Counterpoint, 2001
Etat : Very Good Couverture souple
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uncorrected bound galley;softcover;signed by Leavitt 0.0. N° de réf. du libraire 2485

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Détails bibliographiques

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)

A propos de ce titre

Synopsis :

An intimate portrait of life in a small rural town in Tuscany recounting 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.


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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