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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Delightful Days in Tuscany: Too Much Tuscan Sun

Too Much Tuscan Sun an amusing and very interesting book by Dario Castagno with Robert Rodi is full of delightful tales about leading tours in Tuscany. These tales about people on the tours certainly makes a good change from the 'renovation and food' books written by Americans and English people who go to live in Italy.

Dario leads tours of mostly American people through Tuscany and his descriptions of them are not always favourable! Amusing clients included the middle-aged couple who looked fit and wore track suits, but drank lots of Coke and refused to climb the hills of Sienna until they saw an old lady with groceries walk up three steep slopes without puffing; the couple on honeymoon who did nothing but kiss until Dario got a bit fed up and left them alone in a beautiful and deserted spot; and the Dutch group who wanted to drink and eat all day! There were also many rude clients who were completely uninterested in the culture and asked stupid questions.

The stories that I liked the best in this book were those about Dario's idyllic youth when he and his friends used to go and have wild parties in old, deserted houses until they finally had occasion to feel somewhat guilty!

He also gives a good, interesting guide to the history and culture of Tuscany, especially Sienna, and to olive growing. I liked the descriptions of the famous horse race - the Palio - but found it all fairly complicated!

Dario's web site with its photos of the Palio is well-worth seeing. I also notice that he's written a new book which I can't wait to read!