See You in the Piazza

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

I was so excited when I was scrolling NetGalley and found a Francis Mayes book available for request.  I couldn’t believe it.  I know she is a hugely popular author.  I have never read any of her books but did have a few on my to be read bookshelf, which made me getting the book an even sweeter reward.  I couldn’t wait to read it. 

Full disclosure:  I couldn’t get past 5%.  I tried several times to read this book and just couldn’t do it.  I struggled with the writing style.  She was all over the place with it. I found it very choppy and hard to follow.  I wanted to love it. I found myself wondering how she managed to become such a popular author if this is how all her books were.   As much as I hate to admit this, I actually got rid of the other books by her that I had because I disliked this book so much.  While that is not fair to her as an author, I knew that because I didn’t like this one I probably would never read the other ones by her. I don’t want to tarnish your view of this book, so take what I am saying with a grain of salt.  Read it for yourself and decide from there.  

The reason I requested it was 1: It was Francis Mayes and 2: It was about Italy and places to stay and eat.  Italy is by far my favorite country so far in Europe.  I couldn’t wait to read it and find some hidden gems that I can visit if I ever get back over there.
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My husband and I are preparing to go on a trip to Italy at the end of August, so this month I am reading books all about Italy- some travel guides, some fiction set in Italy, some memoirs and some cookbooks.

A few years ago, I reviewed Matt Goulding's Grape Olive Pig in preparation for our trip to Spain, and I really enjoyed his exploration of Spain through its food culture. Now I'm reading Pasta Pane Vino before our trip to Italy. Each chapter is devoted to a different section of Italy, with much emphasis on the nonnas (grandmas) who share their stories. Goulding also gives you a guide of what to eat where- if you like cacio de pepe, go to Felice a Testaccio in Rome. This one will have a lot of post-it notes in it.

Speaking of nonnas, Rossella Rago's Cooking With Nonna- A Year of Italian Holidays shares recipes for each holiday from various nonnas, many of whom have been on Rossella's popular web TV series. The book is filled with gorgeous photos of the food, and what could be better than having an entire cookbook filled with tried-and-true nonna recipes? From the simple "Spaghetti in Wine Sauce" for Valentine's Day dinner to the more labor intensive "Little Hats Filled with Cheese and Mortadella in Broth" there is something here for every skill level.

Another family-oriented cookbook is Adriana Trigiani and Mary Yolanda Trigiani's Cooking With My Sisters-One Hundred Years of Family Recipes from Italy to Big Stone Gap. I enjoy cookbooks that tell a story, and the sisters have filled this gem with family photos and stories in addition to recipes. You'll feel like you are at a family reunion as you read this delightful book. I've had "Ida's Easy Artichoke and Chicken Casserole" and it is a keeper.

Lastly, I'm in the middle of Frances Mayes' See You in the Piazza. Mayes, who authored Under the Tuscan Sun, takes the reader on a journey through small towns in Italy, sharing the best out-of-the-way restaurants, shopping, and places to stay. She also has recipes in here if you are daring enough to try and replicate some of the great chef's dishes. This one is perfect for anyone who wants to be adventurous on a trip through Italy.
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I normally like travel memoirs - especially for Italy. But this one really dragged on for me.

Her attitude towards local people and local culture came off as condescending not appreciative.
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I always enjoy Ms. Mayes books as I thoroughly enjoy her descriptions of Italian life and idiosyncrasies .  This book was even more appreciated by me as my husband and I took a several week trip this summer to some of the same spots as she discusses. Any book on Italy that she writes, I want to read.
The only (quite minor) quibble I have is there are some redundancies in her writing.

My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for my honest review.
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Another travelogue on Italy from Frances Mayes which unfortunately didn't resonate with me as deeply as I hoped. I did enjoy how she started the book in Northern Italy and traveled south highlighting places not on the typical tourist path. However, after a while the narrative took on a pattern at every stop.......architecture, art, expensive restaurants and luxurious surroundings. I did find myself enjoying it more if a read only one or two chapters  at a time. I really wished she had provided a detailed map of her trip and an addendum of towns visited along with the places she stopped. I found it hard to keep track of what was where. I did appreciate the recipes but most of the ingredients are naturally not readily available if at all. In summary it was a pleasant enough read and I'd like to thank Net galley, the publisher and author for the ARC.
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review. Frances Mayes truly has a gift in that her writing really transports you. You feel like you are right there with her. It was a beautiful story, well told.
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I am a fan of the author's travel writing and quite enjoyed this visit to the Piazza's of Italy. This is a great read for every arm chair traveler that cannot travel.  As always the author includes her exceptional details of culture, people and the food. Reading this is a grand get away from life that I highly recommend.  The author's writing is transporting and its a sublime time away from life to read this exceptional book. 

Thank you to Net Galley and to the publisher for the review copy.  My opinion is my own
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The author had me at “UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN” and has continued to seduce me with all her writings. Her newest is a gem, too, as it reveals more hidden treasures of Italy, places to visit and recipes to die for. 

“Italy, the endless surprise.... Will it be a swim in the October-cold sea at Carloforte on Isola di San Pietro in Sardegna? Or a plate of arugula dressed with lemon juice and fresh olive oil in Sorrento, when the taste wedded to the heady scents of citrus blossoms from trees layered in ascending terraces all around you? ....The mad woman performing Aïda arias in the fountain of Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori?”

As you you can see, SEE YOU IN THE PIAZZA is penned in her lush poet’s voice with a knowingness that comes from living in the country for 30 years. È meraviglioso! 5/5

Pub Date 12 Mar 2019. 

Thanks to the author, Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. 

#SeeYouInThePiazza #NetGalley
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Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to read this book!  I appreciate the kindness. 
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I loved reading about the author's experience in what seems like every little town in Italy. It was fun to live vicariously through her and dream of having the lifestyle that allows all of us to take a similar journey.
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Thank you to Crown Publishing for providing me with a copy of Frances Mayes’ latest book,  See You in the Piazza, in exchange for an honest review.

 See You in the Piazza,  follows renowned travel writer Frances Mayes, as she tours the different regions of Italy. Mayes and her husband are American, but they own a second home in Italy and have fallen in love with the country. Mayes and her husband set off on a series of trips to discover and report on the best restaurants and landmarks in each region. On certain segments of their journey, which spanned over a year, they were joined by friends and other family members. The result is a love letter to Italy.

Mayes has a gift for lush imagery, especially her sensory descriptions of food and wine. Do not read while hungry! Mayes and her husband are definitely foodies and experiencing Italian cuisine is a huge focus of their travels. Although they do not shy away from experiencing local dives, the bulk of their dining is done at amazing five-star restaurants. I love to eat and experience incredible cuisine, but I seriously don’t know how they manage so many intense meals. As someone who has not yet (emphasis on “yet”) visited Italy, I was surprised by the regional differences in food and the variety of ingredients that encompass Italian cuisine. For those who love to cook, Mayes has included many recipes from the restaurants featured in her book. 

Admittedly, See You in the Piazza was a slow read for me. I read it in small chunks and it took a few months to complete. it is long and written as a travel diary, which did not captivate my interest. It jumps between Mayes’ masterful writing and the vibe of having a neighbor tell you every tedious aspect of their last vacation.  I love travel writing and I know that Mayes’ is respected in her field, but despite her gorgeous descriptions, I not sure that her style speaks to me. 

 I read an advanced readers copy, but I imagine that the published version will likely include photographs and maps, which would greatly add to the enjoyment of the book. 

See You in the Piazza is a great pick for those who adore Italy or who have an upcoming trip in the works. Mayes provides much inspiration for places to visit and experience. It definitely made me wish that I could just jump on a plane and head to Italy!
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See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy, by Frances Mayes (2019)
The woman who introduced readers to Italy with Under the Tuscan Sun more than two decades ago returns with another love letter to Italy, focusing as usual on the smaller towns. This is a travel guide, but a highly personalized one. Mayes, who also published the fictional Women in Sunlight last year, describes the smaller towns where she and her family have eaten, cycled, played and shopped. It’s presented from north to south, rather than as a chronological memoir, giving travellers a chance to delve into an area such as Piedmont, Umbria or Sardinia, among others. In my digital advance reading copy, a table of contents listed all the regions and towns, but there was no map, though I understand one is included in the print edition.
As I’m planning a trip to Italy as I read this, I browsed through the entries, focusing on the areas where I’ll be travelling. Mayes’ intention is to encourage travellers to explore Italia as the locals live it, and it’s an easy sell. It reads like a journal of each stay, with descriptions of the land, the rooms or suites where they stay, restaurant and market food, shopping, sights and activities. The book has no photos, which is a shame, though as always, Mayes’ descriptive and detailed writing evokes images. Of Campiglia, a Tuscan hill town, she notes: “That the two white arches in the piazza, the stony lanes, covered steps up between streets, the clock-tower building covered with stemmie, coats of arms of local rulers, have endured untouched always seems so preposterous to New World people.” Mmmmm … I simply can’t wait to see it for myself! For those who want to travel without leaving the kitchen, Mayes includes a few delicious-sounding recipes in this book. I’m eager to try her version of caponata, an olive-based antipasto I’ve made with great (I think!) success, though my pending visit won’t include Sicily, where it originated. Next time! An index is planned though it was not included in my review copy. In summary, this is more of a memoir than a travel book, so choose it only if you like biographies. My thanks to Crown Publishing for the advance reading copy of this book, provided digitally through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book:
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So I forgot how boring this authors writing is. She wrote under the Tuscan sun and that crap out me to sleep every time. This was pretty much the same. I’m not happy about it.
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I'm a big fan of travelogue type books, where a character goes to another country and deals with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of other cultures. Frances Maye's "Under the Tuscan Sun" was one of the first travelogues I read, and it hooked me on the style.  I was hoping this book would be in a similar vein as "Under the Tuscan Sun," but was disappointed that it is a travel guide to some of her favorite places to travel in Italy. Granted, if I was going to Italy, I would definitely want Frances Mayes to be my tour guide!  I guess that was my biggest problem with the book--I'm not traveling to Italy anytime soon!

If you are looking for an in-depth travel guide, this will be a wonderful read for you. Mayes shares some of her favorite shops, restaurants and attractions in Piemonte, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Toscana, Umbria, Le March, Lazio, Puglia, Sardegna, and Sicilia.  She's filled the book with tidbits and insights that could only be written by an expat who truly loves and understands the country.  She shows us the unexpected, off-the-beaten path places to travel. 

She also discusses other resources for travel background, like The Touring Club Italiano, websites that give details on agricultural/cooking tours, off-beat places to stay (like historic castles), and much more. For armchair travelers like myself, she even shares recipes from some of her favorite restaurants.  So, if I can't travel to Italy, at least I can eat like I'm already there! 

I gave it a three-star not for the quality of the writing, but because it wasn't obvious in the eBook that this is really a travel guide, and not a travelogue.  For someone who was expecting to read witty stories about the misunderstandings between cultures, it was disappointing. 

However, If you are going to Italy, I definitely recommend this book for insights and attractions you might not normally find in other travel guides. If you aren't traveling to Italy but are curious about some of the lesser-know villages and towns to visit, this would be a good read. Finally, if you just want to try some new authentic Italian recipes sprinkled with personal stories, be sure to pick up this book.
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See You in the Piazza by Frances Mayes is a memoir told geographically as she describes Italy. If you love reading about faraway places or plan to travel to Italy soon, this book may be for you. It is a wonderful collection of vignettes about what the author experienced as she traveled in each city. It can be read in any order, which makes it like a guide book. I think it’s a fun read. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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Part travel book, part history book, part geography book, and full of love for Italy, this book by Frances takes the reader on a tour of the Italy few tourists get to see: the everyday lives of the people, who have lived there for generations upon generations. Frances literary eye catches the unique - did you know Egypt has the largest Egyptian collection (Museo Egizio) outside of Cairo? I had NO clue, I just assumed it would be Britain or the US! - and the sublime - an exorcism medal behind a bulletin board in a simple church in Monte Conero. This is the Italy that few know- but Frances brings it all to the light- the good AND the boring and bad! Along the way she meets some amazing people, and they share their recipes with her (and the reader). If you want to visit Italy, read this book first- it's so much better than a traditional travel guide!
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Interviewed author for an article that was published on See link below.:

People tend to fall in love with Italy. That’s what happened to both Frances Mayes and Kathy McCabe.

“It’s a big collage of charm!” says Mayes, author of Under The Tuscan Sun, the New York Times bestseller that became a box-office smash when adapted to the screen.

“The art, food, wine, delectable towns—but overall, I’d say, the sheer beauty of the place is what overwhelms me over and over,” she says. “When you see the cypress trees punctuating a sublime view of olive groves, medieval towers, farmhouses nestled in the folds of the hills, and the transparent light, this kind of bucolic dream inspires, comforts and lures you into a world that seems more real than where you come from,” she adds.

Mayes has authored seven books about Italy that have been translated into 54 languages. Her latest one, See You In The Piazza (Penguin Random House, 2019), is being released today.

See You in the Piazza Released 3/12/19
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If you are an armchair traveler as I am and you love reading about Italy, get this book immediately! I certainly loved Under the Tuscan Sun as well as Mayes’ next book Bella Tuscany. This one won’t disappoint if you are fans of Frances Mayes and like a foodie/cultural narrative.

See You in the Piazza isn’t a novel. I’d describe it as a cross between a memoir and a travel guide, yet it isn’t specifically either one. It’s the sort of Ex-Pat lit that I can sink my teeth into, traveling vicariously through descriptive writing.

Our author has traveled extensively throughout Italy enjoying the foods, culture and atmosphere, eventually purchasing a second home in Tuscany.  Yet Ms. Mayes says she feels the same excitement as she did her first few years of living in Italy. “To know Italy would take ten lifetimes.”

It’s a foodie book for sure – Olive trees, Negroni, homemade pasta, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, recipes and more.  The book is set up geographically from north to south.  It doesn’t have to be read cover to cover, rather you may choose the county of interest.  This will stay on my Kindle as a reference guide in case I’m ever able to visit Italy.

Read this and you will want to pack up and move, enjoy a different culture and pace.  This book was published March 12, 2019 so hustle to your favorite bookstore or online retailer and immerse yourself with Frances Mayes’ Italian travels.  You'll keep this book as a reference guide.

Sharing with Heather for her March Foodies Read series.

Thank you very much  Netgalley for this digital copy of the book. It’s one I will refer to often, especially if I am fortunate enough to travel to Italy. I received this complimentary copy and am not compensated for my opinion/review.
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A wonderful companion to have while traveling through Italy. Yes, it’s a travel book, but it reads like a journal. Really beautifully written.
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Frances Mayes is a marvelous writer. She brings the essence of Italy to armchair travelers. I enjoyed reading her prose.

However, this is mostly a reference book for travelers wanting to get off the beaten trail in Italy. If you were to go to these places, this book would be invaluable in finding terrific places to eat and unusual but wonderful places to visit. She takes her husband and grandson along for her trip to give a couple of other perspectives and cover other interests than her own.

Five stars for the prose, three stars for lack of a story that Mayes usually does so well, splitting the middle with four stars.
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