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Barblue

Isabella Dusi - Vanilla Beans & Brodo

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If you want to read a book that gives you an insight into the history, geography, people, traditions, attitudes, community and produce of the Tuscan town of Mantalcino, then this is the book that will give you all of that.

 

Isabella Dusi, is an Australian who moved to Montalcino with Luigi, who left Italy as a child. They settle in Montalcino and it takes several years for them to become integrated into the ways and mores of the community that inhabit this place. This book was written during their fifth year in the town.

 

I have learned a lot about Montalcino from this book. About the way the town is laid out, about the four quarters of the town that compete in the annual archery competition, about the way the community has bonded over the centuries during disputes about severeignty and about the food and perhaps more importantly, the wine of the region. I even know about their football team!

 

All of this information is set out in chapters that deal with one part of Montalcino, at the beginning of which is a sketch of a small part of the town. It is told as a story that is interesting and informative. And yet, I found this a difficult book to read.

 

Maybe it is because there is so much information in the text that it takes time to digest. Maybe it is because there are over 400 pages. Maybe it is because there are so many Italian words to get used to reading; although each one is translated and there is a Glossary at the back, it slowed my reading. Maybe! But most of all I got annoyed because Dusi repeated information so many times; historical facts, details about surroundings or people, and while I might have accepted this from chapter to chapter, what annoyed most was that often during a chapter the same information would be repeated. By the middle of the book I found this unnecessary and tedious.

 

Having said that, if I ever get the chance to visit Montalcino, I will. I feel I now know a lot about the town and environs and will truly appreciate what it is I am looking at, were I to go. Because of the book, I have gone looking for Brunello (the local wine). I now know how expensive it is but will definitely try it - when I get over the guilt of paying that much.

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I'm afraid I agree with you Barblue, I fell on this book when I saw it because it looks fascinating, it should be fascninating yet I keep on putting it down - it's even been in the car as my emergency reading material and I still haven't finished it. I thnk it's her style that puts me off, I haven't opened the book for a good six months but I seem to remember that it's very distant and she writes as if she's a fairly uninvolved observer. It didn't bring Italy alive to me at all unlike Annie Hawes' or Lisa St Terrin de Aubin's (think that's how you spell it!) books.

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