A Tuscan Childhood

March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kinta Beevor’s A Tuscan Childhood is a memoir about growing up in the sixteenth-century Fortezza della Brunella located just outside of Aulla.  Born to British parents, this family bought an old castle, renovated it, built a garden in the sky, and spent years falling into rhythm with the Italian land around them.  Military and artistic ties created a circle of friends that included people such as Bernard Berenson and D.H. Lawrence.  In contrast, the barefoot adventures that Kinta and her brothers had around the Tuscan countryside introduced peasant and gypsy characters; authentic Italian people that lived off the land and shared their secrets to those that were willing to listen.  After being chased away from Aulla during World War II, Kinta returned 40 years later and revisited old places and people; a bond that lasts throughout the years.

While this is by no means a beach read, or a before-bedtime-story book, it was interesting to see the woman’s relation to the land.  The cover claims that this book is “lyrical and witty”, but I found it rather bland in style.  Which, surprisingly, was a refreshing discovery, as most of the books that you pick up about Tuscany tend to be over-floral in language and cliche descriptions.  A Tuscan Childhood is a dry account of life in Tuscany on the onset (and in the aftermath) of World War II, and one family’s influences both to and from the Italian castle.  Thus, for non-sappy, historical accounts, it is a pretty entertaining book for those with a passion for the time period of geographic area.

What I enjoyed the most were the detailed descriptions about various dishes- or, even, various plants and foods.  The smells and tastes and colors made me feel as if , too, were sitting at the table of some rustic balcony in the middle of the woods and peeling the next meal.  And looking forward to the next bottle of home-crushed wine.

Tuscan Childhood

“Tuscans are able to look back in a far more clear-sighted way than most people.  They are fortunate to be free of collective complexes and, above all, of that arrogance which hides shame.  They do not romanticize what has gone before, nor do they feel a need to close shutters upon it.  The past is part of them and they are part of it.”


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