Podcast Episode #1: Frances Mayes on Life Under The Tuscan Sun

If you’ve ever thought of chucking it all and buying a little fixer upper in the Tuscan countryside, then author Frances Mayes needs no introduction. She is of course the author of the best-selling book Under the Tuscan Sun which inspired the movie starting Diane Lane. Frances practically invented the dream of moving to Italy either full or part time. Host Kathy McCabe checks in with Frances at her famous villa Bramasole.

Help us spread the word about the new Dream of Italy Podcast and you may be bringing home a piece of Under The Tuscan Sun! Here’s how to enter – 1. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts and 2. leave a review any time between June 15 and August 1, 2019 (we hope for 5 stars) and you will be entered to win a bottle of Bramasole olive oil (harvested by Frances and Ed Mayes) and a signed copy of Under the Tuscan Sun! The winning iTunes username will be announced on the Dream of Italy Facebook Page on August 2, 2019!


Thanks to our sponsors Rosapepe Retreats  and Dream of Italy Travel Planning Service.

Transcript with Show Notes Embedded:

Frances Mayes: Italy, I believe, gives you a kind of sense of being at home in the world, and I haven’t felt that anywhere else in my life. The beauty of the landscape. The people are warm and generous.

Kathy McCabe: This is Kathy McCabe. Welcome to the Dream of Italy Podcast. You know me from the PBS travel series Dream of Italy and the award-winning website and publication. Join me as we explore the sites and sounds of Bell’Italia. From the canals of Venice to the piazzas of Puglia, from the fashion houses of Milan to the vineyards of Tuscany. Ciao, bella. Hop on. It’s going to be a great ride. Andiamo.

Kathy: First, some words from our podcast sponsors.

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Kathy: If you’ve ever dreamed of chocking it all and buying that fixer-upper in the Tuscan hills, then Frances Mayes needs no introduction. She is, of course, the author of the bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun about the restoration of Bramasole, the house she and her husband, Ed, bought in Cortona. Released in 1996, Under the Tuscan Sun spent two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list and was made into a movie starring Diane Lane. I had the enormous pleasure of visiting Frances at Bramasole to film the Dream of Italy: Tuscan Sun Special soon to be airing on PBS stations and Create TV. Look for it.

Frances is in the midst of releasing three books in three years. Her novel, Women in Sunlight, and travel book, See You in the Piazza, are out. Another travel book, Always Italy, will be released in 2020. This woman is busy, and she is certainly not sitting in the garden at Bramasole eating bonbons. Frances joins me via Skype from perhaps the most famous house in all of Italy. Welcome, Frances.

Frances: Thank you, Kathy. It’s wonderful to talk to you, someone who shares my greatest passion.

Kathy: Oh, our deep, deep, deep love for Italy. A place that is truly, I think for both of us, for so many people that we know, a transformative place, so I want to dive right into that, and that’s actually something I’ve become more and more interested in. Of course, my first trip to Italy 23 years ago changed my life. Your trips changed your life, and for the women in the novel, Women in Sunlight, Italy changes their life, so I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about what the book is about and how to Tuscany plays a role in it.

Frances: Women in Sunlight was such a pleasure to write. Every morning, when I walk into town, I see women from all over sitting at little café tables writing in their notebooks or kind of looking around dreamily, and I know who they are. I know those women, and I know why they’re there because it was the same for me when I first started coming to Italy and felt it began to really have its effect on me.

Frances: I wanted to write to those women. It’s kind of a tribute to all the women travelers I see, and there’s so many of them. You don’t really see groups of men. It’s interesting. I don’t know quite why, but you do see two or three women together, and they are painting, or women traveling in groups. I see that so much, or then the solitary woman just on a quest of her own, so the book is to those women, and my three women are Southern women who have some tough times, overall have had great lives, but they are getting to the age where they are beginning to feel like they should downsize, or retire, or clean out the closet, or basically disappear.

They meet and become friends, and they decided to do this crazy thing of taking on a house in Tuscany, which we find out during the course of the novel, they can stay on. After the year’s lease, they can buy it, so one of the questions during the writing was what will they do, and it was a wonderful quest. I really fell for these women characters, and sometimes, I wake up now thinking, “What are they doing over there in that big house?” They just seem to have a life of their own.

Kathy, Frances and Ed at Bramasole

Kathy: One thing that we talked about when we visited together in Cortona was, again, imagining these characters, and I think you had told me that this novel has been optioned, so when you’re writing or when you’re dreaming of these characters, do you see faces? Do you have people in mind?

Frances: Definitely. They take on real lives and looks. They don’t take on the looks of movie stars, so I don’t think of casting as I’m writing but… I mean, once the book is optioned, you do start thinking, “Well, who would be a great Julia? Who would be a great Camille?” Now, they’re kind of their own characters and some of them are composites of friends of mine. Some of them have characteristics and interests of me, but basically, they’re fiction, and I always heard from novelists that your characters take over and lead you, and I thought, “What? How does that work?” In a way, it kind of does.


Kathy: One interesting aspect of the novel and even your own story is that there are second, even third and fourth acts in life, and certainly, in the last few decades, women are receiving new messages, I hope, that it isn’t over at a certain age.

Frances: Yes. It was fortuitous and interesting to me that my book had the same kind of timing as the Me Too Movement, and new realization that women really should go into politics more than they do, and a reawakening of a women’s movement that I experience the first time around. So many women now are experiencing major choices after a time when in the past they did not. They simply checked into a lovely retirement center or went to live in a small apartment, but that whole message to downsize your life is one I’m really opposed to.

I not only believe in second and third acts- I think every day is a new act that you can always change. In the movie, it wasn’t my line, but the screenwriter said, “Life gives you a thousand chances. All you have to do is take one,” and that’s really an optimistic way of looking at it, but when you think about it, everything is chance. Every choice you make leads you down a different path, and I think to remain open to those choices is about the best thing you can do as you grow older.


Kathy: That actually gives me chills, and when we talk about chance, when was the moment when you decided to make this life in Tuscany?

Frances: I always loved Italy, and I came here as much as I could. I studied Renaissance art and Renaissance architecture, medieval art and architecture in college, so I first came here just to see what I had studied. I wasn’t here two days before my eyes were just forever opened to the vivacity of Italian life, and I remember saying to the person I was with, “These people are having more fun than we are.” It was just one of those instant fall-in-love moments for me, but to buy the house is quite a different thing, and I had been here several times before I did that mad thing and bought this rundown house on a little hillside in Tuscany.

I rented a house absolutely near here by chance, and I had just moment after moment of feeling like I belong here with no reason to really feel that, but I think the first thing I did when I got there was put my little basil plants in the ground, and at the end of the month, they were knee-high, and I had felt like I put down roots at that point, so it was irrational. It was crazy, but from that moment on, I had this idea that I would buy a house here, so I looked for several years in the summers. I was a university professor, so I had these delicious long summers off. I finally found this house, and I’ve been happy here ever since.


Kathy: Going back also to the novel, what do you believe? Obviously, it was you and your husband who bought the house and moved in. Frequently, it is women who will move on their own. What is it about Italy, I mean, I tried to put it into words as well, that makes people who are in search of something come to Italy, and why do you think that is?

Frances: I used to think that, but I now have come around after knowing my three women characters so well that they actually came when they were ready to change, that Italy was a catalyst. It wasn’t the reason. I had to think about that theory and try to work it all out, but I’ve come to think that, but Italy I believe gives you a kind of sense of being at home in the world, and I haven’t felt that anywhere else in my life. The beauty of the landscape. The people are warm and generous generally. There are a few cultures out there that aren’t, but usually, people are just wonderful and just hospitable. Very much reminds me of growing up in the South in some ways.

Being at home with beauty I think gives you a sense of creativity in your life. The Italians take beauty for granted. They take art for granted, and so when you’re here, you do too. It’s not something separate or something outside yourself to work on. You feel at home in this place because it is so beautiful, and I think beauty is just good for you.

Kathy: Oh, absolutely, and that feeling of home is very much what I felt the first time I went to Italy. My grandparents were of Italian descent, and every time I land, I feel like I’m back in their living room, and there is something on the stove, and I can smell something cooking, and the warmth. Just the warmth, and the safety, and the beauty of growing up in that home is what I feel when I’m Italy.

Frances: Yes. There’s so many moments like that for me. We were recently staying in an agriturismo down in Calabria, and we checked in, and I said to my husband, Ed, “If I had a great-aunt Maria, this would be her house,” so you have that family feeling even if it isn’t your family.


Kathy: Absolutely, and I wanted to ask you about Ed and his role in your work and your life. When you invited to Bramasole, I might have told you this story. I have worked for famous people, I have interviewed famous people, but you emailed me, and you said, “Well, Ed can pick you up at the train station.” Well, I think this was the most exciting moment of my life. I’m like, “Ed? Ed? Ed Mayes is going to pick me up at the train station!” because I remember him from the book 23 years ago and… 22 years ago and there was just something about Ed. I’ve spent wonderful time with you and Ed, and you have sort of what from the outside appears to be the partnership all of us would love to have in life.

Frances: It’s lucky. He’s such an adventurer. He never says, “We don’t have time to take that little road.” He will take the little road, and I think that in a nutshell is just why we have such a successful time together because he’s ready to go.


Kathy: I love that, and the thing that I was really struck by, for instance, when we were sitting in your garden, this is, again, two decades later. If we had stood up, you would have seen the tourist that come to your home when we were walking in Cortona and you were recognized. I mean, people were just beside themselves because they are coming to Cortona because of you, and they run into you. What really struck me is just the joy that both of you still have that none of this seems to ever be an inconvenience. It’s delightful, I think. Do you still feel that way?

Frances: We really enjoy the interaction with people. The book Under the Tuscan Sun has been translated into I think 54 languages, so people come here from all over, and if we are out gardening or if we’re going out the gate to town or walking to and fro, we meet them. We take photographs together. Two people who met in the road got married so…

Kathy: Oh my god, that’s amazing!

Frances: It’s quite wonderful actually, and I know that Peter Mayle said one time he left France because some tourists jumped in his pool and he was always being bothered by them, but I said to Ed, “The people who read my books must be nicer than people who read his,” because we don’t have invasive people generally. We would have a few times, but it’s been really fun. How often do you meet someone from Estonia? It happens, and this year, it’s been Brazil for some reason, so it’s always a surprise, especially a surprise that after this many years that people are still reading the book and coming here.

Kathy: I know.

Frances: I always thought if anyone loved the book, it would be people of my general likeness, but to find out that it appeals to people in China and all over, it is just miraculous.


Kathy: You have continued to write after Under the Tuscan Sun, producing a number of books. Where do you write? I know you spend six months a year, of course, in North Carolina and six months in Tuscany. Is there a room at Bramasole where you write? What’s your writing process like?

Frances: I can write anywhere once I get started. Right now, I’m in my third floor study, and this is where I had written so many books. I love my little study looking out in the valley, but I can write on the airplane. I can write in the garden. When I have a book to write and a deadline, I just do it. I don’t need any particular routine. My husband who’s a poet has certain things that he has to do, which is like get up before dawn, and write in the dark, and all these mysterious rituals, but I’m just practical. I get to it. When I have a deadline, I go.


Kathy: Especially even in Women in Sunlight, I was struck by the little nuances of Italian life that you share and all these funny observations, and I’m curious. When you are out and about for the day and something funny happens because in Italy… I mean, every day is an adventure. Every day, truth is stranger than fiction. Do you write these things down, or do you just remember them?

Frances: I used to always carry a notebook, but now, I must admit. I use my voice memo on the iPhone.

I use a lot of photographs. They’re such good memory prompts. That’s what I do mostly, but when I’m writing about a place as I am right now, I’m writing about Calabria, I try at the end of each day to get my notes together because when you’re traveling a lot, sometimes things can start running together, but combination of notebook, the iPhone, the iPad, the photos, everything is pretty simple keeping up.

We’ve been traveling for the past year working on See You in the Piazza. It is new places to discover in Italy, and of course, nothing is totally undiscovered, but this is places I’ve never heard of, places I’ve wanted to go and haven’t gotten to. We went down to Puglia, for instance, four times. We absolutely fell in love with Puglia. Just back from Calabria. I’d never traveled that much in the north of Italy, and it was a revelation. I expected to like it less because it’s the more organized and the more Northern mentality versus the warm South, but I loved the North. The Dolomites were staggering.

Kathy: Oh, yeah.

Frances: You come across these clear green lakes that you just have to go into. Trento, for instance, is a place you can move any minute. I just found so many new places to love and felt a little bit like I was betraying Cortona because I kept saying to Ed, “We can live here.”


Kathy: Coming up next, Frances tells us about the other place in Italy she might be tempted to move to. Aren’t you dying to know? But first, a travel tip from the pages of Dream of Italy, the award-winning travel publication I founded in 2002.

Don’t visit Tuscany without taking the Terme. These are the ancient hot springs bubbling with healing waters. You can find them across the region. My favorite is Terme di Saturnia in the wild Western Maremma. The Ancient Romans were big fans too. Stay at my favorite, the Terme di Saturnia Spa and Golf Resort. If you’re visiting one of the most stunning valleys in the world, Val d’Orcia, don’t miss the waters of Bagno Vignoni. Stay at the Adler Thermae and Rapolano Terme is deliciously undiscovered by Americans. Stay at nearby Castello Delle Serre.

Insider travel tips like this fill 170 back issues of Dream of Italy available online only to Dream of Italy members. Get a free issue and find out how membership can feed your Italian dreams at dreamofitaly.com/issue. Now, Frances and I continue our conversation.


Kathy: I know. It’s like picking favorite children, but if you couldn’t live in Tuscany, but you were going to live in Italy, is there one place that comes to mind?

Frances: Well, I love Rome. I could move to Rome tomorrow.

Kathy: Ah, me too.

Frances: Little towns in Veneto in Friuli, Puglia. I love the south of Sicily. So many. The Tuscan Coast is almost like not Tuscany, so there are places over on the Tuscan Coast that are wonderful. Tuscany is very small, but it seems like a country.

Kathy: It’s very diverse. I spent some time in Maremma, and Saturnia is one of my favorite places on Earth where the hot springs are that the Ancient Romans believed in their medicinal value and use, and I’ve been to other hot springs in Italy, but there’s something magical truly about Saturnia, but that whole coast is… You wouldn’t know it was Tuscany. Every little bit of Tuscany is a little bit different, which is very much how Italy is.

Frances: Yes, and you’re right with Maremma. It has its own special flavor, and it’s quite undiscovered really. I was there a couple of times writing this book and was just amazed how few tourists there were, and those who were there were Russian and German.

Kathy: I think that the amazing thing about Italy is that there are still places to discover that you can go back 50 times and you’re still… which I probably have been, 50 times, and there still are so many layers, and what you said about Puglia, for me, that… When people have asked me, “Where would you buy a house?” Tuscany of course is very tempting, but Puglia, the beaches, the stonewalls, the gigantic olive trees, the flatness of it actually even is very attractive.

Frances: Yes.

Kathy: You can bike around.

Frances: The bread!

Kathy: Yeah.

Frances: The bread is the best in the world.

Kathy: Yeah. Yeah, and the ocean.

Frances: Lots of seafood restaurants. Yeah.

Kathy: Facing Greece. Actually, we were filming an episode in Puglia, and my producer, we were at this lighthouse, which is the furthest out, and her phone, her Vodafone said, “Welcome to Greece,” because we were at the very, very end of Italy, and that’s another thing I’m sure you’ve discovered with all of your research and visiting. It’s just how many people, civilizations have occupied or lived in what is now Italy. The Greeks. The Spanish.

Frances: Yes.

Kathy: It’s a rich place.

Frances: Everybody who had a fleet tried to get Italy. The south of Italy was just attacked by every single country there was. Well, I guess the Greeks have had, particularly down in Puglia and in Calabria, the most influence because there are still Greek words in some of the dialects there.

Kathy: Yes.

Frances: The Greek ruins are so extensive of course there and in Sicily as well. There are more intact ruins in Sicily than in some parts of Greece.

Kathy: It’s really incredible, the various layers. If you don’t have a guide or something to read, you can miss really… That’s the other thing that’s so important about the books that you’re writing and even the work that I do. It’s the context because there is just so much to learn about Italy if you’re visiting a place to really dig deeper, not to just go for an hour and see what you have to see.

Frances: Just go to the vineyard and have a nice boozy lunch.

Kathy: Yeah, and I think… I don’t know if you feel this way. I do think travelers are becoming more sophisticated.

Frances: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Kathy: I don’t know that.

Frances: I don’t know.

Kathy: Well, I think they’re looking for more experiences or looking for…

Frances: Yes, that really seems true when you look at all the tours and groups on offer. They’re doing a lot of interesting things, and you can take a mosaic workshop up in Friuli. You can take cooking classes all over the place. Every place in Italy I’m sure has a cooking school by now, but the things like the mosaic workshop or great hiking trips in the Dolomites or even walking trips. There are just so many different things to do now.


Kathy: When you’re back home in Cortona, I know many, many people visit Cortona or want to visit Cortona, so I’d love to help them out. Where do you and Ed like to go, or what would you recommend for someone coming to Cortona?

Frances: It’s such a tiny town. You discover it on your own very easily. We are so lucky. We have in this tiny town, and I wish we had them in my little town in North Carolina. We have I think 32 restaurants, and they’re all good. Just recently, got a sushi restaurant, which is very unusual in this part of Tuscany, and lots of still family-run trattorias. This Michelin-starred restaurant Il Falconiere. There are just wonderful small places like Locanda Del Molino, a beautiful little inn right on a stream outside Cortona. In the walls of the town, there’s a restaurant every time you look, and you can’t go wrong. They’re all wonderful.

In terms of seeing things, Luca Signorelli was born here, and we’re lucky enough to have quite a few of his paintings in one of the museums here, and we also have this stunning Fra Angelico Annunciation that people come from all over the world to see, but I guess the highlight in terms of what to see would be our Etruscan Museum. It’s just so amazing to see what they’ve been pulling out of the burrows here for centuries.

Farmers turn up with their plows, these little bronze votives. A huge erotic chandelier was unearthed in the ditch. All the remnants of the Etruscan civilization that we just got a great collection of them, and the museum was actually started in the 1700’s, so that shows how long people here have had an awareness of their patrimony, their cultural resources. The Etruscan Museum is stellar. It’s just fabulous. Then, the great walks over Roman roads. It’s very relaxing just to go in town on Saturday morning to the little market, sitting in the piazza with cappuccino and inevitably you meet people. It’s just really fun.

Kathy: That’s often the best part of Italian life is just the people watching.

Frances: Yes.

Kathy: I know you spend…


Frances: A lot of things go all in here. It’s an active little town. A lot of concerts and photography exhibits. Every Thursday night from May til November, there’s a wine dinner in a different restaurant, and the owner or spokesman from a vineyard comes and presents wines, and the chef pairs them beautifully, and it’s just great convivial evening. Tourists and locals in the restaurant having fun together.

Kathy: That sounds incredible, and I always tell people… and we have an events calendar on dreamofitaly.com. I’m always telling them, “Look for a festival. Look for a special event, a concert. There is always something going on in these little towns.”

Frances: Yes. I always tell people, “Get your hair done.”

Kathy: Oh, that’s a great idea.

Frances: Go to a concert. Go to a movie. Do what the local people are doing, and you get something of an insight.

Kathy: Yes.

Frances: I think the grocery stores and the enotecas are great places to get into conversations for people. When I’m traveling, I use the Michelin Guide. I use Gambero Rosso. I use the Blue Guide, but I always follow my nose as well, and I found that an enoteca is a great place to go in and say, “Where did you go for a special dinner in your town?”

Kathy: Yes.

Frances: You get great restaurant recommendation. If you just say, “Where should I eat?” they tell you where all the tourists are going to eat, but if you say, “Where do you go?” you can get a great recommendation.


Kathy: Yes. That’s an excellent tip, and also, when you mentioned Italian supermarkets, I think they’re just fascinating to look and see what products they have on the shelves. You can buy so many interesting foods, and they’re great for gifts to bring home, and they seem much more mouthwatering than the supermarkets we have at home.

Frances: Well, they are… In our little market, we have fabulous cheese selection and just wonderful things. Just the aged rice from the north of Italy and all kinds of like 10 different kinds of rice for risotto. I was in a little grocery store last week, and this English woman was near me, and she was saying to her husband, “This is better than Fortnum and Mason.”

Kathy: That’s quite a compliment.

Frances: Fortnum and Mason.


Kathy: Yes, yes. You spend half the year, about half the year in Cortona and then half the year in Hillsborough, North Carolina. What’s it like to split your time like that?

Frances: It’s like being married to two men, I think. It’s hard to adjust. I feel dazzled on both ends as I travel back and forth because they’re such entirely different cultures and landscapes. We happen to love them both. We have a marvelous town, Hillsborough in North Carolina, that’s full of writers, and artists, and really nice people, and we have a farm there on a river, so we’re pretty enchanted with it. After a few days, you just feel at home again, but somehow, when I’m here, I don’t miss being in America, but when I am in America, I miss being here, so I don’t know what that says exactly because I do love it there, and our family is there so it’s just…

Kathy: I understand that feeling, and in some ways, life can be logistically a little bit easier in America, but it’s just not the same. It’s just not the big, full heart feeling that you have when you’re in Italy, so Italy is an easy place to miss.

Frances: Yes. We have such… in Cortona, such an intensive community. I think if only American towns have not allowed shopping centers to gut their downtowns, life in America would have much more of a warm feeling, but so many towns now struggle to have their shops remain open and to maintain their identity. Here, everybody goes to the piazza every day, and you know you’re going to see your neighbors. If you’ve grown up here, you’re going to see the person you hated in fifth grade. You’re going to see your dentist, the mayor. You’re going to see everybody. I think that’s one reason the internet hasn’t caught on here to the extent that it has at home because you don’t need to email somebody because you’re going to see them that day, and that’s much better.


Kathy: What about the other side of moving to Italy? I mean, many people have this fantasy, “I’m going to do what Frances and Ed did, and buy a house, and renovate it, and live there,” and then they give up on the dream. What is it that you think is difficult for people to accept about Italy?

Frances: Oh, Kathy, I’ve thought about that quite a bit, and I think it boils down to the language. If you learn the language, you get to be much more integrated into a place. Although, I think as a foreigner, you never totally at one with the society. It’s just not going to happen, but I think learning the language is really the key. Also, having something to do and not just coming here to enjoy the good life, and relax, and sightsee because I’ve seen so many people love the restoration process. They just are invigorated by it. They adore it. Tons of people come to visit them in the first two or three years, and then they find out that the Past Remote Tense isn’t that easy and that these stone houses that are cool in the summer are also cool in the winter.

A lot of the tourists go home and these towns revert to solemn, somber, little places, and it just isn’t the way it was in that first flush of excitement. When you know what to expect and the newness wears off, I think a lot of people feel, “This isn’t for me,” and they leave, but I’ve seen so many people move here successfully and just thrive. There are people who really know how to do it, and they’ve thought about what they are doing here.

Kathy: Is there something besides the language? I guess you’re saying maybe even the intention.

Frances: I think having something to do.

Kathy: Something to do.

Frances: You can’t just have a little vegetable garden. You need a purpose just as you do anywhere. It’s probably some people who have felt their lives go flat in wherever they were come here and all the excitement of the newness carries them through, but then it goes flat again because they haven’t really thought about what they’re doing here. You need to do something. You need to help raise funds to restore a church fresco, or get involved in starting a lecture series, or have a book club. Do all the things that stimulate you and make life interesting. Italy itself is not just going to carry you on its back. You have to have, as my mother used to say, resources.


Kathy: Absolutely. Definitely. You’ve spoken of your… When we’ve been together, you’ve spoken of your grandson, and I know he spent a lot of time with you in Cortona and your daughter. Has this love of Tuscany become a family affair?

Frances: It has, and also, with friends. I think one of the great joys has been seeing how our choice of being here has affected the lives of so many people, and our family and friends. My grandson is here right now. He’s studying Italian with a tutor two hours a day, and it’s part of his life. He says, “Don’t ever, ever sell Bramasole.”

Kathy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Frances: If his Italian were a little better, I think he might be interested in going to college here, but by the time he gets to college, I don’t know whether that will happen or not, but he’s that interested in it, and he loves the cities. We just took him to Milano, and we had a marvelous time. I had never really spent much time in Milano, and it changed so much from when I’ve been there in the past, and we just loved it. We had such a good time.


Kathy: Excellent. The question I ask all of our guests at the end is, what is your dream of Italy?

Frances: My dream of Italy, Kathy, is I think to be right on this hillside looking down into the valley where Hannibal defeated the Romans in 217 BC. All that layering of history that makes you feel so at home in time because the Italians have had so much time, so my dream is to work, writing my books, looking out at the valley, entertaining my friends, discovering as much of Italy as I can, and staying here as long as I possibly can.

Kathy: It sounds like you are indeed living your dream and not that many people can say that.

Frances:: Thank you, Kathy, and also for all the great work you do here. La bella vita!

Kathy: To find out more about Frances and all of her wonderful books, visit francesmayesbooks.com. If you enjoyed my conversation with Frances, you will love watching us together in our Dream of Italy: Tuscan Sun Special, which will be airing on PBS stations and Create TV in the United States, and online for international viewers. I visit Frances at Bramasole, and she shows me her Cortona. It’s beautiful, fun, and a personal dream come true. Find out more at dreamofitaly.com.

Again, our thanks to Rosapepe Retreats. Walk the paths of the ancient philosophers and discover why the Roman emperors chose Campania for their escapes. Enjoy healing thermal waters, exhilarating vistas, and mouthwatering cuisine. Book your trip at rosapeperetreats.com.

With the Dream of Italy Travel Service, our trusted planners have the scoop on locals to meet, hidden treasures to discover, and experiences to knock your socks off. Many inspired by our TV show and publication. Let our planners take the hassle out of travel so you can simply enjoy the magic. Visit dreamofitaly.com/travel.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to the Dream of Italy Podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave us a review. For more about all of our podcast episodes and to give us feedback on what you would like to hear in the future, visit dreamofitaly.com/podcast, and for all things Dream of Italy, the award-winning travel publication, membership website, TV show, and travel planning service, visit dreamofitaly.com. Ciao.

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