Are you one of the many who fell in love with Frances Mayes’ Italian Villa in the 2003 movie Under The Tuscan Sun?
Or, perhaps you are like House Crazy Sarah and read the book first and was captivated with Mayes’ vivid descriptions of the 200-year old farmhouse she and her husband Ed bought and rehabbed from ruins.
Frances Mayes & husband Ed in real life:
It’s important to note that the movie version of the house is not the real Bramasole. The movie featured a place called Villa Laura, which was lovely in its own right, but not the actual house.
The real Bramasole that Frances Mayes wrote about in her gorgeous memoir Under the Tuscan Sun, is much larger than the movie version, and has more of a terraced yard as it it perched high on a hillside.
House Crazy Sarah recently finished re-reading the book and fell in love with the house all over again.
Bramasole looks mysteriously down on us, and we remember the first time we saw it, when I stepped through weeds taller than I, and said, jokingly, “This is it.”
House Crazy Sarah wanted to know what the inside of the real Bramsole looked like so she embarked on a quest to find the few precious photos available on the internet which showed the interior of the actual house the Mayes so lovingly restored.
After her original wave of fame, Frances published several more books, the proceeds of which allowed her to do another renovation of Bramasole in 2015.
These interior photos show what the house looks like now.
The books and bric-a-brack are lovely but what is it with the disembodied vintage doll parts?
Perhaps they were unearthed from the garden.
Below, we get a look at the dining room with the amazing wall fresco that was discovered during the first renovation:
If you look closely at the mural, you can see in the water reflection (bottom left) where one of the Italian contractors thought it would be funny to sign his name. Frances was, understandably, furious. Eventually she got over it and embraced the signature as part of the house’s history.
Here we get a peek in her famous kitchen:
Here’s a BEFORE picture of the kitchen prior to the 2015 renovation:
You can see that the kitchen was significantly upgraded, which makes sense because Frances Mayes is not only a fabulous writer, but a bonafide gourmet chef as well.
One of the most special parts of the kitchen is the glassed-in breakfast nook which allows spectacular views of the terrace and valley below.
There are several outdoor eating spaces at Bramasole, as Frances and her husband Ed entertain there often during the Tuscan summers.
Back inside, we get a look at Frances’s study where she has written several of her books:
House Crazy Sarah always loves to see where writers work, and what books they choose to have nearby as they write.
Frances’s study looks well-used and authentic, not staged or sterile.
And one more room to note: the cantina (below) where Frances stores her cookbooks and olive oil. This room was once a rabbit hutch!
Those of us lucky enough to come across such history and become caretakers for a while of an old house, know how such places become entwined in our very souls.
As Frances wrote:
This is it. I didn’t have the prescience to know that our lives were about to change profoundly and that we would become deeply married to this plot of land under the Medici fortress and the Etruscan wall.
The name Bramasole means to yearn for the sun.
What a perfect name for this centuries old sunbaked Italian farmhouse that still stands proudly on her hill above Cortona.
This was very interesting. I received the book as a gift and read it when it was first popular an “it” book. We passed it around the office, and one of the attorneys would come out and see us reading it and say to that person: “When you are done we should talk?” She had some issues with the book. And I remember the sheer popularity of the book, someone gave my mum a calendar one year as a holiday gift but I don’t think my mum ever read the book. I re-read it a few years ago, since I’ve read other books that inspired it, including A Year in Provence by Peter Mayles. The book is interesting as it is a combination travelogue/memoir and also the recipes she includes sets it apart. The house in the film I figured was not the original villa, and it is lovely to hear it was not a film set but another villa. The film is a nice stand alone as it is a completely different story they kept Frances/Francesca and that she was a college professor/decided to buy/restore the villa–but that is about it. The film is beautifully photographed and I like Diane Lane, and actually I went to school with one of the assoc. producers–we are not in touch but hear through small town wire–her dad’s updates to my mum, et al. These days I see houses for Italy for sale for minor sums but not in Tuscany, other provinces including Abruzzo and most recently on the island of Sicily. The carry terms and conditions of course, it is a nice dream but you must have certain funds to ever be able to go into that position.
Yes funds and mobility – which none of us really have right now thanks to COVID 🙁
I’m enchanted by Bramasole and Frances Mayes writing about it and on top of that fascinated with her cooking. Now, I know Under The Tuscan Sun is a movie but the food Diane Lane, as Frances, serves to the workmen are art! I watch the movie over & over and read everything I can get my hands on about Bramasole or actually the villa she actually lives in and remodeled. I want to visit Cortona so much and really breathe the air there and feel the magic. It’s so beautiful there. Is there anything else I can read about it or more photos I could see that anyone can recommend. I want to see if Frances has a blog as I’d love to ask her more questions.
Hi Judy, thanks for stopping by!
Frances Mayes does have a website and I think even a blog – just Google her name!