The renovations to 34 via del Duomo now complete, Marlena de Blasi, the best-selling international author and 'the woman with the fairytale life' needs to find time and space to finish a book. Lured by the offer of a simple stone cottage in the remote, mountainous region of western Tuscany, distant from the distractions of her everyday life with Fernando in Orvieto, she sets off for some much-needed solitude. But her plans to live simply, in peace and quiet, are overturned when she meets the imperious, tempestuous Antonia, the still-stunning, elderly matriarch of a large, complicated family of four generations of beautiful blue-eyed Italian women, all with stories and ideas of their own. Antonia dislikes tourists and outsiders, and so Marlena at first spars and clashes with her, before they reach an understanding. Over feasts and family dinners, walking in the dark before sunrise to harvest wild lettuces, preparing meals and exchanging recipes, the two women joust, joke, exchange confidences and grow closer and closer until finally Antonia reveals the terrible secrets behind the vivid beauty of Il Castelleto.
Evocative, powerful and haunting, this is a compelling insight into Italy's recent past and a revealing glimpse into one extraordinary woman's story and her kitchen.
Marlena de Blasi is the bestselling author of A Thousand Days in Venice, Tuscan Secrets, An Umbrian Love Story and That Summer in Sicily. She has been a chef, a journalist, a food and wine consultant and a restaurant critic. She is also the author of two cookbooks of Italian food.