Envying the simple, yet rich, life in Italy is nothing new. Shakespeare, who understood that location is the thing, set All’s Well That Ends Well, Much Ado About Nothing and many of his plays in this luminous land.
Five hundred years later, the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” defined the dream for millions in the new millennium. The adaptation of American Frances Mayes’ best-selling memoir begat caravans of tour buses chugging up and down Tuscan hills. The pilgrims fantasize about life in Cortona, Montepulciano, or San Gimignano populated with flirtatious dark-eyed shopkeepers, sunflowers by the armload, and languid afternoons at a caffè. There are no sick kids, overdue bills, cold rainy days, PMS, or arguments with your partner.
The allure of this ideal is quite simply irresistible-even to natives. My Roman friend Anna, who comes from an aristocratic family in Emilia-Romagna (and, from my perspective, has a pretty enviable life) was even given a translated copy of Under the Tuscan Sun by her mother!
The bad news about this fantasia all’italiana is that few Americans, Italians, or anybody else for that matter, can afford an ancient stone house like Bramasole. Fixer-uppers start at three-quarters of a million dollars. The good news is that imaginary Italian real estate is free. [Read more…]