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Italy: Classic Tuscany - Books & Movies
RECOMMENDED READING 
  • A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure by Marlena de Blasi. A testament to the timeless countryside and the ancient village of San Casciano dei Bagni, for the local vintage and the magnificent cooking, A Thousand Days in Tuscany is set in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Tucked into its fragrant corners are luscious recipes (including one for the only true bruschetta) directly from the author's private collection.
  • Travelers' Tales Tuscany: True Stories. These essays by renowned travel writers explore the many lures of Tuscany - its rolling hills, sunny climate, friendly people, and superb food and wine. This extraordinary region comes alive in tales of harvesting grapes, hunting for truffles, hiking ancient Etruscan paths, and glorying in the region's bountiful art, music, history, and above all, romance.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes. Frances Mayes, a gourmet cook, travel writer, and poet, bought herself a crumbling 17-room villa in the Italian countryside. It changed her life and renewed her spirit. Her immensely appealing chronicle of the experience, and of her romantic relationship with the man she eventually married, comes complete with recipes from the region.
  • The Daughter of Siena: A Novel by Marina Fiorato. It's 1729, and the Palio, a white-knuckle horse race, is soon to be held in the heart of the peerless Tuscan city of Siena. But the beauty and pageantry masks the deadly rivalry that exists among the city's districts. Each ward, represented by an animal symbol, puts forth a rider to claim the winner's banner, but the contest turns citizens into tribes and men into beasts.
  • The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family's huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Florence.
  • Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide by Dario Castagno, Robert Rodi. Over the past several years, "the American in Tuscany" has become a literary subgenre. Launched by the phenomenal success of Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, bookstores now burgeon with nimble, witty accounts of this clash in cultures-Americans trying to do American things in Italy and bumping against a brick wall of tradition.
  • Tuscany for Beginners: A Novel by Imoge Edwards-Jones. Belinda Smith, owner of a divine bed and breakfast, has found her very own Tuscan valley in the sun, having abandoned a dreary, cheating husband. Life couldn't be more perfecto until the arrival of Lauren-a beautiful, feisty woman who has the gall to announce her plans to open a new B&B. Have Belinda's fabulous days of ruling supreme in this corner of the world come to an end?
  • Tuscany in Mind (ed. Alice Leccese Powers). Powers explores one of the most seductive regions of the world through more than two centuries of fiction, poetry, essays, letters, and memoirs by English-speaking visitors to northern Italy. From James Boswell's record of his romantic dalliances to Laura Fraser's memoir An Italian Affair to Sarah Dunant's novel The Birth of Venus, Tuscany in Mind assembles a glittering mosaic portrait of an unforgettable place.
  • Seven Seasons in Siena: My Quixotic Quest for Acceptance Among Tuscany's Proudest People by Robert Rodi. A Chicago writer with few friends in town and a shaky command of conversational Italian, he couldn't be more out of place. Yet something about the sense of belonging radiating from the ritual-obsessed Sienese excites him, and draws him back to witness firsthand how their passionate brand of community extends beyond the Palio into the entire calendar year. 
  • A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: Exploring and Eating Off the Beaten Track by Beth Elon. Includes 100 recipes and nearby points of interest, descriptions and contact information for restaurants, trattorie, gourmet shops, wineries, olive oil producers, local markets, and regional food festivals, and how to find the monasteries, workshops, and artisans' studios that offer local items ranging from herbal beauty products to traditional ceramics.
  • Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King. Discover how a fifteenth-century goldsmith and clockmaker, Filippo Brunelleschi, came up with a unique design for the dome to crown Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, in a dramatic study set against the turbulent backdrop of Renaissance Italy.
  • The Birth of Venus: A Novel by Sarah Dunant. This book is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain's most innovative writers of literary suspense. It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholl. Painter, sculptor, inventor, draftsman, anatomist Leonardo's life and career encompassed so many of the creative achievements that made his era spectacular. Nicholl skillfully captures it all while tracing his subject's journey from an illegitimate child in Tuscany to his service with some of the most powerful families of Renaissance Europe.
  • A Year in the Village of Eternity: The Lifestyle of Longevity in Campodimele, Italy by Tracey Lawson. Campodimele, Italy, is a unique place whose inhabitants lead extraordinarily long lives, enjoy low blood pressure and low cholesterol, and stay active and healthy to their last years. Lawson goes beyond the medical figures, immersing herself in the lifestyle and timeless eating habits of this vibrant location.
  • An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser. When Laura Fraser's husband leaves her for his high school sweetheart, she takes off for Italy, hoping to leave some of her sadness behind. There, on the island of Ischia, she meets M., an aesthetics professor from Paris with an oversized love of life. What they both assume will be a casual vacation tryst turns into a passionate, transatlantic love affair.
  • Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience (ed. Camille Cusumano). Legendary for fabulous food, persistent men, and a lyrical language, Italy has inspired many great love affairs - with the country itself. From the notorious occupants and cuisine of Sicily, to the ancient marvels of Rome, to the couture of Milan, women throughout the ages have invented and reinvented adventure in this diverse and voluptuous land.
  • Very Valentine: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani. The Angelini Shoe Company has been making exquisite wedding shoes since 1903 but now teeters on the brink of financial collapse. Juggling her budding romance, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, 33 year old Valentine Roncalli returns to Italy with her grandmother in a quest to build a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING 
  • Tea With Mussolini (1999) with Cher, Judi Dench. Based on director Franco Zeffirelli's childhood in 1930s Italy, this film follows a group of Englishwomen living in Italy who believe that fascist leader Benito Mussolini will protect them from war's gathering storm clouds. When a boy's mother dies, Mary (Joan Plowright), Arabella (Judi Dench), Lady Hester (Maggie Smith), Elsa (Cher) and Georgie (Lily Tomlin) will do anything they must to protect the child and preserve their way of life.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Audrey Wells (with Diane Lane, Raoul Bova). After divorcing her cheating husband, Frances Mayes tries to overcome her depression and writer's block by taking a vacation to Tuscany. Charmed by the location, she impulsively decides to buy a villa there.
  • ​Letters to Juliet (2010) by Gary Winick (with Amanda Seyfried, Gael García Bernal). By responding to a letter addressed to Shakespeare's tragic heroine Juliet Capulet, a young American woman (Amanda Seyfried) vacationing in Verona, Italy, sets in motion a series of events that leads her -- and the missive's lovelorn author (Vanessa Redgrave) -- in search of romance. Directed by Gary Winick, this deeply tender and uplifting drama also features Gael García Bernal and Franco Nero.
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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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