Ever since she decided to buy the rundown farmhouse Bramasole and document her adventures in Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes has turned a twist of fate into a one-woman promotional machine for la dolce vita. Her latest book, Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style From the Heart of Italy, is another astutely observed memoir about life alla Italiana. Writing with her husband Edward, this time Mayes explores historic renovation (the couple has now tackled abandoned Tuscan farmhouse number two), decorating, gardening, cooking and any other home-related subject her magpie mind alights on. The book is also a scrapbook of their life in Italy they now split their time between Bramasole and the Bay Area complete with evocative pictures of dining al fresco with Italian friends, scrumptious sounding recipes and a section on Tuscan wines and stories about growing olives and bottling estate olive oil. Bringing Tuscany Home also includes poetic descriptions and photos of crumbling Tuscan houses and collaborations with local muralists, furniture makers, architects, basket weavers and stonemasons. Thanks to her experiences, Mayes has now been contracted to design furniture and home accessories on the Tuscan theme for some American companies. While the Tuscan sun would keep shining without Frances Mayes, her enthusiastic embrace of all things Italian is a perfect match for the passions of her adopted neighbors, "who inspire the world with their knowledge of how to live like the gods." Deanna Larson is a writer in Nashville.

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