The Lady in the Palazzo: An Umbrian Love Story
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Marlena di Blasi seduced readers to fall in love with Venice, then Tuscany, with her popular and critically acclaimed books A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany. Now she takes readers on a journey into the heart of Orvieto, an ancient city in the less-trodden region of Umbria. Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, her tale is by turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, as she and her husband search for a home in this city on a hill—finding one that turns out to be the former ballroom of a dilapidated sixteenth-century palazzo. Along the way, de Blasi befriends an array of colorful characters, including cooks and counts and shepherds and a lone violinist, cooking her way into the hearts of her Umbrian neighbors. Brimming with life and kissed by romance, The Lady in the Palazzo perfectly captures the essence of a singular place and offers up a feast—and the recipes to prepare it!—for readers of all stripes.
him in the street, he barely breaks stride. The hand-kissing moments are history. He’s matchmaking with someone else. And then one morning he knocks on the door in Via Postierla. THERE’S BEEN A CHANGE of plans. The work in Palazzo Ubaldini cannot begin until September. Unexpected difficulties on other jobs will keep the crew occupied until then. Nothing to worry about; they’ll recover lost time by doubling the manpower once the project is begun. These things happen. Aren’t you comfortable here?
the work itself would be under way.” “And you’re telling me that they knew that you understood every oblique angle of this performance?” “Yes, I believe they did. But why are you so angry? What harm has been done to you? To us? Italians say, ‘To keep things the same, change them. Stir the waters, make them cloudy. Then wait. You’ll see how much clearer they become. If we want things to stay the same, everything has to change. Or appear to change.’ Giuseppe di Lampedusa told us that.” Giuseppe
9 She Says People Need to Be Together as Much as They Need to Eat It’s nearly the end of September and the wait has no more shape than it did in June. Save a few days of the “preparation” crew’s hammering at the debris, enlarging it, nothing has been done in the ballroom in Palazzo Ubaldini. Nor has there been news from Samuele. Yet the other sides of life race all the same. There are recipes to test for articles and the newly resold book. My agent has succeeded in placing it with a
openly. While I’m still in bed, Fernando, a thick brown towel twisted at his waist, comes to me with a nosegay. Three dozen roses—tiny, just flourishing, crimson, their stems trimmed short and sashed around with a wide red velvet ribbon. Homage to Gaspare’s bouquets of asparagus centered with a single rose, my roses are studded with asparagus, tight points of dark green spears sprouting above red buds. “Buongiorno, amore mio,” he says grinning, sitting on the edge of the bed, holding out the
shouldered by the Ubaldini. You see, they might have waited for a tenant with a larger budget than yours, a budget that would have permitted their property to be outfitted more grandly. But their generosity, their instinctual affection for you and Fernando led them to disregard that eventuality.” Each word—its impact and its delivery—feels like the balsamic caress of a sage. The wisdom, the justice, the practicality of it all is set before me as an offering to an unwashed. I look at Fernando and