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  • Writer's pictureLaura Botten

Romance, Tuscany, and Chocolate Cake

Close your eyes and picture Tuscany. What do you see? Rolling green hills? Rows of tall cypress trees? The Renaissance art of Florence, perhaps?

It's all that and more, and it's all described beautifully in Sheryl Ness's memoir Love in a Tuscan Kitchen. This book tells Ness's true-life story of leaving her stable job behind in Minnesota to follow her heart to Tuscany. She didn't know what exactly was calling her to Italy, but she couldn't ignore it any longer.

What she found was not only beautiful scenery; she also found incredible cuisine. And that's when her life changed. Not only because these authentic Tuscan dishes left her taste buds begging for more, but because of the man in the kitchen of a restaurant who was cooking those dishes.

His name was Vincenzo. With a name like that, it was only a matter of time before he stole someone's heart. And steal he did, with his famous chocolate love cake.

But I'll let Sheryl tell you the details.

This book is incredibly descriptive. If you've never been to Italy-- Tuscany specifically-- you'll be able to picture it in your mind's eye with her vivid descriptions of a slow-paced life in a small Tuscan village. You'll smell the fresh-baked bread. You'll see the laundry flapping in the breeze. You'll hear the church bells.

It's also the perfect book to read to lift your spirits. I mean, it's a true-life Italian romance. How much happier can a story get? If you're in the mood for a feel-good, drama-free escapist book, this is the one.

Ness also offers perceptive observations about Italian life and culture in a small Tuscan village. From superstitions about weather, to the arduous process of getting married in a foreign country, to community values, to the importance of food, she covers it all with a respectful curiosity.

But perhaps the best thing Love in a Tuscan Kitchen offers readers are the recipes. Thirty-eight of them to be exact. Including the chocolate love cake that brought Sheryl and Vincenzo together.

Have you read this book? I'd love to know what you thought in the comments below!

Check out my own recipes here and learn more about Sheryl's book here.

Laura Botten is a voice actor and producer who is currently working on her first book, a novel set in Rome. Get a free "Taste of Italy" when you sign up for her monthly newsletter here.

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Nov 28, 2022

Sounds delightful. Great review, I’ve been waiting excitedly to hear your views on it, thanks.

Laura Botten
Laura Botten
Dec 14, 2022
Replying to

Thank you, Elora! If you read it, I'd love to know your thoughts!


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