The Lady in the Palazzo
An Umbrian Love Story
The chef and author of A Thousand Days in Tuscany takes in the flavor of Umbria while fixing up a dilapidated palazzo with her husband—includes recipes.
Marlena di Blasi seduced readers to fall in love with Venice, then Tuscany, with her critically acclaimed books about her experiences in those enchanting Italian regions. Now she takes readers on a journey into the heart of Orvieto, an ancient city in the less-trodden region of Umbria. Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, her tale is by turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, as she and her husband search for a home in this city on a hill—finding one that turns out to be the former ballroom of a dilapidated sixteenth-century palazzo. Along the way, de Blasi befriends an array of colorful characters, including cooks, counts, shepherds, and a lone violinist—cooking her way into the hearts of her Umbrian neighbors.
Brimming with life and kissed by romance, The Lady in the Palazzo perfectly captures the essence of a singular place and offers up a feast—and the recipes to prepare it!—for readers of all stripes.
Following A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany, de Blasi's new book, set in Orvieto, is ostensibly about her effort, with her Italian husband, first to find, then to renovate and at last to move into the ballroom of a splendid, dilapidated medieval palazzo. The renovation becomes an engrossing portrait of the town and some of its inhabitants. Nothing goes according to plan or schedule, but de Blasi uses the years (literally) of waiting to explore the life of the town, centering on the home-based caff -kitchen of her friend Miranda and the caff 's patrons. De Blasi's exuberance and her American disregard of Italian class distinctions at times distress her new friends and also her husband, but eventually, almost by accident, she pulls off a coup of diplomatic d tente just after they finally set up housekeeping in the palazzo. Vvid writing and an affectionate appreciation of the sounds, scenes and flavors of Italy, as well as of the somewhat eccentric Umbrians she meets, will charm lovers of that country.