See You in the Piazza

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Brilliant! It’s like going on a trip through Italy with a dear friend who has lived there for years. I have loved all of Frances Mayes’s books and this is no exception. A lovely combination of travelogue and guide book See Youin the Piazza made me want to hop on a plane.
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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  
From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it!

Bestselling and beloved author Frances Mayes discovers the hidden pleasures of Italy in a sumptuous travel narrative that crisscrosses each region, with inventive new recipes celebrating Italian cuisine
The Roman Forum, the Leaning Tower, the Piazza San Marco: these are the sights synonymous with Italy. But such landmarks only scratch the surface of this magical country's offerings. In See You in the Piazza, Frances Mayes introduces us to Italy only the locals know, as she and her husband, Ed, eat and drink their way through all twenty regions--from Friuli to Calabria. Along the way, she seeks out the cultural and historic gems not found in traditional guidebooks.
Frances conjures the enchantment of the backstreets, the hubbub of the markets, the dreamlike wonder of that space between lunch and dinner when a city cracks open to those who would wander or when a mind is drawn into the pages of a delicious book--and discloses to us the secrets that only someone who is on intimate terms with a place could find.

Tuscany was always a bucket list trip for me until it became a tourist mecca because of this author: I wanted to go to quieter places and maybe I can get there before they are over-run as a result of this excellent book.   Mayes gives us a wonderful place to visit and recipes to make to remind you of these places BUT I WANT PHOTOS. TONNES OF PHOTOS ... especially of the finished recipes. 

This is a 400+ page book and there are no photos beyond the main cover. (maybe there are in the actual physical book? I don't know but I DO KNOW that I do not want to google each place and look for photos to see if it intrigues me.  The recipes look yummy: I actually made the Lemon-ricotta torte for Canadian Thanksgiving today - I added rosemary as we didn't want it too sweet and the test sample (made in an InstantPot™!!) was amazing.

2.5 stars rounded up to three: it could have easily been a five if there were photos, to be honest. (It does not come out for another 5 months as I am writing this: maybe they can amend the book to have them???)
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Richard Saul Wurman wrote the Access Travel Series from the late Seventies to about 1998.  These books offered a quirky view of the locations they covered, filled with suggestions from local residents, and entries about unusual stores and sites that are ignored by most other travel guides. I loved traveling with those guides, which always left me feeling like I had experienced some of the actual culture of a place, not just the cultural or historic sites that are highlighted in most travel guides. To this day, whenever I am preparing for a trip to someplace new, I always search for a guide that offers a similar insight to my destination. 

See You in the Piazza, although not really a travel guide in the same sense, reminded me of the Access books. Mayes recounts her travels to a variety of locations throughout Italy. She is an excellent writer, with a simple descriptive ability that is truly evocative; probably a result of her work as a poet.  I most appreciate her observations about what made each town she visits so unique, highlighting what makes it completely different from another town not five miles away.  She seems to suggest that this is a specific characteristic of Italy, but I am not convinced; I think it might be as much about her attention to detail and genuine curiosity about a place as anything specific to Italy itself. 

I did have a few quibbles however. I remember having a discussion with a friend when Under the Tuscan Sun was first released. She was uncomfortable with the author’s unacknowledged wealth in that book. The freedom to travel back and forth to Italy and the money spent on renovating Bramasole was far beyond the reach of the average reader, and that it was never acknowledged troubled my friend. That issue is definitely still at play in this book. I am guessing, but I believe the average reader might be astonished by the cost to follow even one of the itineraries described by Mayes in this book. 

My other complaint may be a result of my reading a pre-publication copy of the book. I wish there had been a map at the beginning of each regional section, showing the area of Italy and the locations of each town she visited.  My geographic knowledge of the country is minimal, and I found myself having to look up each location in order to understand exactly what part of the country she was visiting. Many of the towns she names are small enough that maps showed only a small area around the town, and when I would try and scroll out on the map, the town would disappear. 

Regardless, I found this book a wonderful, evocative read. It made me fantasize about finding my passport and booking a plane trip immediately. 

I read an advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!
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I'm still reading this (it's a great before bed choice) but did want to post an opinion early. Fans of the author will notice a difference in writing style with this book - this one is more of a travel log of food eaten, places seen, wine drunk and preferred accommodations than earlier works. Definitely worth reading if you want to know where to go regarding specific towns or sites. Sadly, I'm only 40 pages in but this jam packed style of writing is turning reading into a bit of a slog. Still, tons of detail if you are into that type of travel reading. Regardless, she's still one of my all time favorite authors.
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Frances Mayes is always so enthusiastic about her travel that it gets you excited, too. Great descriptions and very accurate based on comparisons to my own experiences in the same or similar places. Highly recommended.
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Great book about the piazza's of Italy.   The book is about the travel, wine and food of Italy.   Many undiscovered towns discussed.  I enjoyed the book.
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4.5 stars

Mayes brings her delectable writing style to the pages of this travelogue/memoir/guide for all of us who wish we could take two weeks to walk in her shoes. Italy isn't just a place but an attitude and way of living, something Mayes makes clear through gently describing the distinctions between one little town and another. 

This is not a book you pick up with your map in hand to help you plan your trip to Italy so much as it is like a first date (or first date in a long time) with the Italian way to spend your day. Yes, she has the book organized in such a way that you could look up the province and town you want to visit to see her recommendations. However, she doesn't cover every little town (nor should she, as this isn't Frommer's) and she presents them in a well-organized tapestry of anecdotes of her experiences there. Mayes implies so much about what it means to be Italian and live like one without having to hold your hand to communicate it. 

Read it because I have a feeling you'll learn how to appreciate Italy after you travel through it with her. Perhaps you'll even find a way to sit in a cafe around your own corner and ponder with peaceful quiet the way she can in Italy. You'll get both story and guide in this book. Thank you, Frances Mayes! Now I'm saving up for another trip to Italy!
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A delightful, well-written travel book from someone who travels Italy frequently. Rather lyrical but easy to read.
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I was hooked on this author after Under the Tuscan Sun.. This seemed more of a travelogue to me but still enjoyed. Always fun to read about unique places in Italy especially from someones perspective I appreciate
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Author, Frances Mayes,  will once again delight readers with her most recent book, "See You In The Piazza".  If you are a fan, as I am, of "Under The Tuscan Sun" you fall in love with Italy all over again.  You will ride through the roads of Italy with Frances, her husband, Ed and 1 5 year old, son, William.   From the north to southern Italy you will bask in the warmth of the sun, through vineyards, and discover new places as you ride through a valley of olive trees and hunt truffles on an early morning walk.  Sit in ancient cafes in Torino . Drink Prosecco and eat cheeses, artichokes  and become food dreamers.  She also shares recipes such as baked onion and goat cheese and sausage.  Her travels are not written in any particular order of time sequence; so the reader can easily pick the book  up and read which ever chapter they would like.  The author has once again charmed the reader with her beautiful writing style.  I highly recommend this most enjoyable  reading experience.
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Frances Mayes' writing transports me.  It's impossible to read her work without realizing she's a poet.  It's also impossible to read her work and not want to start planning your trip to Italy ASAP.  I loved this book as much as I''ve loved ever other thing written by the amazing Ms. Mayes, and I've read every word.  Thank You!
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