Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes

By Frances Mayes


Frances Mayes, whose spell binding number one New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun made the area fall in love with Tuscany, invitations us again for a pleasant new season of friendship, joyful celebration, and foodstuff, there and all through Italy.

Now with an excerpt from Frances Mayes's latest southern memoir, Under Magnolia

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But why were concerns for healthy living growing? The classic explanation for the first surge of interest in preventive measures at the end of the Middle Ages has been that it was a response to epidemics and, in particular, the plague. In the sixteenth and part of the seventeenth centuries however, bouts of plague were a recurrent presence in the Italian peninsula, which suggests that other elements need to be taken into account in our explanations for the increasing emphasis on prevention. 27 27 Nicoud, Les Régimes, esp.

This surge of interest in domestic preventive measures occurred during a period in which the Italian states were profoundly affected by a remarkably dynamic consumer culture. In particular the increased production and circulation of a wealth of material goods radically transformed the domestic surroundings of rich and poor alike. 31 This broad contextualization of medical discourse will enable us to explore the relationship between shifting medical views about prevention and wider social and cultural trends.

Long assumed to be a static genre, just repeating advice found in classical sources, the early modern regimen has attracted very little interest, even more so if one compares it with the attention sparked by another contemporary health-related genre: the printed recipe book. 22 But as far as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are concerned, the genre is deemed to be uneventful and therefore unworthy of detailed analysis. Even the in-depth studies of medieval regimens, on the other hand, have paid little attention to their contents: the focus in Nicoud’s monumental work on medieval preventive literature has been on the development of the genre rather than the advice this contains.

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