An Italian Adventure
by Andrew Cotto
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Pub Date 25 Oct 2018 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2020
Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure is the story of Jacoby Pines, a disheartened American who arrives in Italy on holiday, and decides he never wants to leave. What follows is a wine-soaked, food-filled, travel-laden adventure about one man’s quest for an antiquated existence in the modern world.
A Note From the Publisher
“(Cotto’s) wonderful storytelling abilities shine through.” –Midwest Book Review
“(Cotto’s) wonderful storytelling abilities shine through.” –Midwest Book Review
Average rating from 11 members
Well written and with an engaging plot. I liked the descriptions of Tuscany and how well the food was described.
I found it less stereotypical than a lot of book set in Italy.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC
‘Don’t worry, Jacoby Pines. Plenty of excitement awaits.’
This is a gloriously sun-drenched story of finding a home, friendship and love – oh, and there’s food. Lots of food. Jacoby Pines, fired from his PR firm for an inappropriate text message, has come to Tuscany with his fiancée, the famous travel writer Claire St. James, who has been given a one-year assignment to find hidden upmarket-yet-rustic experiences for the traveller in Italy. Renting a barn from a local they embark on this new life together. And what a journey it becomes! Jacoby is a bruised and insecure man, prone to fits of bad-temper, and mourning the recent death of his father, his last surviving relative. In his possession he has a photograph of an unknown woman with the words ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini, 1939’ written on the back. It becomes Jacoby’s mission to try to find out why his father had kept this photograph hidden in his belongings. In the process, the story becomes one of finding somewhere to settle, somewhere he feels that he belongs – and finding friendships, love and the possibility of something more.
For the first quarter of the book or so I was on the fence with this one; at times the sentences were a little clunky, the Italian characters introduced a little too stereotypical, the language-barrier misunderstandings a little too silly. But then, you know what, I just lost myself in the story. It is simply an upbeat, uplifting, gloriously happy tale about dreams coming true, about human companionship, and about finding happiness in the simple things. Food is a central part of the book, with long, lovingly-detailed descriptions of the cooking and eating of local cuisine and drink. The sun is always shining, the scenery of Tuscany is breathtakingly beautiful. When Jacoby teams up with local hotelier Bill, and encounters museum worker Helen, the book has several set-pieces which celebrate the local sites of Florence and the traditions of both the city and the countryside. Some of Cotto’s incidental descriptions show a nice touch (Dolores, Claire’s cousin, is described as ‘plus-sized and outrageous’), and there is a very obvious love for the area and the people. As the story barrels along apace towards the conclusion (somehow involving a marble cat, lawyer’s letters, a local holiday descending into a public brawl, and an auction) be in no doubt that there will be a happy ending. Surely?
Joyous, fun, heart-warming and a pleasure to read, I heartily recommend this. It’s not perfect – some judicious rewriting of the opening chapters might have eased me in a bit sooner, and there are some proofreading lapses in the edition I read. But I’m quibbling – any book that I sit and read with a broad smile on my face, and has me chuckling and cheering along as it goes, is just what I need. Pure escapism. Loved it.
I enjoyed this story of a man seeking to change his life and falling in love with Italy. There are many descriptions of the food and wine of the area around Florence, maybe a few too many. The countryside also sounds beautiful, so I hope the locals are ready for an influx of tourists. Be prepared for some swearing and coarse language, but generally well written.
This book and the characters were described well and written good. It makes me want to visit Italy all the more. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It sucks you in as if you are apart of the story along with the characters.
Over 20 years ago, Frances Mayes did for Tuscany what Peter Mayle had done for Provence -- by sharing their experiences while reconstituting old stone farmhouses, fueled by delicious, sustainable feasts of unimaginable beauty and taste and oceans of EVO and wine, they inspired an exodus of ex-pats hoping to experience the same. In Cucina Tipica, Andrew Cotto does the same and even gives a shoutout to Mayes, noting that with her Under the Tuscan Sun she made people fall in love with reading about the intoxicating life that can be had. And here, he does the same.
A coming of age in a way for a 30+ New Yorker with the unlikely name of Jacoby Pines, unsure of his lineage and seeking answers, blessed with a "flawless palate," which gives the descriptions of the various meals a deeper mouthwatering quality. I was also introduced to the term "agriturismo," in which an entire industry has evolved combining farming and tourism incorporating restaurants as well as high-end B&B's. "Jacoby called it four-star slumming." This book is a fine example of sharing food being the best way of learning about and connecting with humanity, the ultimate connector.
Now I'm going to the kitchen to roust up something involving olive oil, squeezed lemon, and sprinkled rosemary.
Don't read this book if you're hungry! All the ingredients of a travel, romance adventure and in skilled prose.
I have received an ARC from NetGalley in return of an honest review.
Do not read this book when you are hungry or enjoy eating delicious food! The detailed and wonderful descriptions of those scrumptious Italian dishes made my mouth water and my stomach growling no matter what time of the day and whether I was hungry or full. The backdrop of this book alone made me want to jump on a plane and fly to Italy for a culinary adventure!
The writing regarding the cuisines, the scenery, the history, and the culture of Italy was impeccable. However, I found it very hard to warm up to the main character, Jacoby. He chose to take the easy way out at every opportunity and in my opinion, a self-centered douche bag who relies solely on others to get what he wants. The ending was equally disappointing, even though it might reflect the current political and social climate as we see around the world, especially in the rural areas of Italy. But it would have been nice to have an ending where the locals prevail with their own strengths.
🍷😋Good story arc; pleasantly surprised🐗
I was expecting a gastronomic travelogue but this story was so much more. Jacoby, the male lead, arrives in Italy dispirited and aimless after losing his job in NYC thanks to an email snafu. But he's got extra healthy taste buds and finds a paradise in the food and wine he imbibes in the Tuscan countryside; all meals are enthusiastically described.
But apart from the food tour, Jacoby's story, with its disappointments and happy moments, includes a mixture of romance, cultural education, mortal danger, a search for family belonging and budding friendships (and animosities) found in the small village south of Florence where he's based. For me, this was the best part of the tale, Think of that famous female American expatriate who made her move to Tuscany famous. Here it's a man instead as the character at a crossroads, infatuated with the beauty and lifestyle of rural Tuscany. The story comes with some twists that are foreshadowed and a bit predictable but part of an overall good story.
It did take me a while to get into Jacoby's odyssey and, for my tastes, the descriptions were occasionally overly detailed, but a good read nonetheless. I reached the last page contented with the outcome and feeling like I'd made a few literary friends😊.
Thanks to Black Rose Writing and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest review.
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