The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria

Marlena de Blasi, Author . Algonquin $23.95 (317p) ISBN 978-1-56512-473-8

Following A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany , de Blasi's new book, set in Orvieto, is ostensibly about her effort, with her Italian husband, first to find, then to renovate and at last to move into the ballroom of a splendid, dilapidated medieval palazzo. The renovation becomes an engrossing portrait of the town and some of its inhabitants. Nothing goes according to plan or schedule, but de Blasi uses the years (literally) of waiting to explore the life of the town, centering on the home-based caffé -kitchen of her friend Miranda and the caffé 's patrons. De Blasi's exuberance and her American disregard of Italian class distinctions at times distress her new friends and also her husband, but eventually, almost by accident, she pulls off a coup of diplomatic détente just after they finally set up housekeeping in the palazzo. Vvid writing and an affectionate appreciation of the sounds, scenes and flavors of Italy, as well as of the somewhat eccentric Umbrians she meets, will charm lovers of that country. (Jan. 26)

Reviewed on: 09/25/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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