Guest author Robin Locker explains why she recommends The Reluctant Tuscan.
One of my favourite places on Earth is Italy, specifically Tuscany. The most well known book starring Tuscany, the one responsible for my first trip to Italy, is the popular Under the Tuscan Sun. However, many other books offer a slightly different perspective on this beautiful region.
One of those books is The Reluctant Tuscan. For me, this book title is a bit unlikely. I can’t imagine being reluctant to travel or live in Tuscany, but author Phil Doran drags his heels, kicking and screaming all the way.
The basic premise resembles Frances Mayes’s memoir, whereby wealthy Californians who seem to have gobs of money buy and restore historic, run-down properties. The trials and tribulations that result from adjusting to a different culture and overcoming the Italian bureaucracy that stalls reconstruction projects are present throughout both books.
Honestly, though, I’d have to say that I’d be more inclined to spend time in Doran’s Tuscany. The Reluctant Tuscan’s stories seem a bit more realistic and above all, humorous. The book has a breezy, down-to-earth feeling, similar perhaps to the atmosphere one finds in Tuscany, an area famous for its laid-back lifestyle.
The descriptions of the Tuscan countryside and Doran’s dilapidated house transport you to verdant green landscapes, old dirt paths, crumbling stone structures and fields blanketed with poppies.
The best moments in the book, though, are his stories involving neighbours and villagers, the locals you would encounter if you travelled there. The neighbour with a yard full of chickens, the one that gives you the evil eye and the crazy landlord who wants his property back. You feel as if you know them intimately and you learn their secrets, like how to get anything you want by making it all about your “Mama“.
This book would make a wonderful travel companion as you’ll learn things about Tuscan travel that aren’t listed in any of the popular guidebooks.