Under The Tuscan Sun

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” – Mohammed

Life Lessons From Under The Tuscan Sun

If you are reading this article I am going to ask you a favor :), please don’t tell anyone that one of my favorite movies is “Under The Tuscan Sun”. If you have not seen it, many would consider it a chick flick 🙂 , but to me it’s a feel good movie with many great lessons. Under The Tuscan Sun is based on Frances Mayes’s 1996 memoir. The film was directed by Audrey Wells and starred Diane Lane.

Plot and Insights I Derived:

Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) is a writer who one assumes has the perfect life. She is  successful, happy, and has a great husband. Everything takes an unexpected turn, when a stranger at a book signing suggests to her that her husband has been cheating on her. The stranger was a writer who she had given a bad book review.

Frances is now devastated, can’t write her novel, and is losing her home to her ex and his new fiancée. Patti who is Frances best friend, is worried that she will never recover, so she insists that she take an Italian vacation. The only thing is that it’s a gay tour that Patti and her partner Grace had booked for themselves, but changed plans after Patti became pregnant. Frances is now at a major crossroad in her life and decides to take the plunge into the unknown.

While exploring the center of Italian public life- the Piazza, she finds a listing for an Italian Villa called “Bramasole”. While reading the ad, an expatriate Katherine walks up to her and asks her if she is going to buy it. Frances says no and that it would be a “terrible idea”, Katherine just smiles, says, “don’t you just love those” and walks away.

Now they are back on the tour bus heading to their next destination, the bus comes to a stop when a heard of cows blocks the road. Right when Frances glances up she notices that they have stopped right in front of the old Villa “Bramasole”. Frances takes this as a sign and gets off the bus.

While inside the Villa Frances comes to find that someone is purchasing the home at that exact moment, but then the owner decides to raise the price. Frances end’s up out bidding the other foreigners, but comes to find that it is still too expensive for her to purchase. Right when she’s walking away she get’s droppings on her face from a pigeon that is in the old home. The elderly Italian woman who is selling the Villa exclaims that it’s a sign from god and decides to sell her the home.

What signs have you had in your life? Did you take action? What was the outcome?

(write any crazy signs you had in your life and their lesson in the comments section)

Initially Frances has buyer’s remorse; she feels she made a mistake because her decision was illogical. She comes to terms that she cannot return home and decides to make it work. She hires a group of polish construction workers to help her make Bramasole her dream home.

Going into unknown experiences, ones attitude is very important as to how the experience ends up affecting you. Because of her openness to new things she end’s up learning to speak a little Polish in Italy, learns about picking olives, becomes a great cook, and develops new unique friendships.

Never Lose Your Childlike Enthusiasm

One of Frances best friends and supporters was the eccentric Katherine, her main advice to her was to “never loose your childlike enthusiasm“.

I feel that children really are some of the most amazing teachers we have. They truly know how to live; our whole goal as we become older should be to learn how to be more childlike. Children don’t think as much as they feel, they mostly process their world through feeling, that’s why they are able to experience incredible moments of joy.

When Frances reaches a point of breakdown, she is questioning why she bought a home for a life she doesn’t have. One of the characters asks her why she did it. Frances simply says, “Because I’m sick of being afraid all of the time”.

I Think many of us have had the experience of where we completely broke down, in these types of moments, one needs faith, faith in oneself to get through the tough times. There is always a huge learning lesson that will make us stronger if we choose to have faith, to know that we will be better from it when it’s all said and done.

One of my favorite scenes was when Katherine is telling Frances a story on how one should approach the things we want in life. “When I was young I would spend hours looking for lady bug’s…finally I would give up, fall asleep…when I woke up they where crawling all over me”. The lesson is this, whenever you become attached to your desires, you hold them away from you. When you learn to become detached, you allow for your desires to come into your life.

In the end Frances gets her wish of having a wedding, a family, and a new romantic relationship. But just like in real life, life has a way of giving us what we want, just in way’s we never expect. From my own life I have learned to expect the unexpected, to not place any conditions how my desires become fulfilled.

When you learn to become open, detached, and non judgmental you see that there truly is a lot more than meet’s the eye. The events we perceived to be random, end up not being very random at all, all part of the grand scheme of the universe.

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15 Responses to Under The Tuscan Sun

  1. Under the Tuscan Sun draws me in because Frances reaches a point of total vulnerability, having ‘lost’ so much at the start of the movie. She surrenders, is eventually persuaded to go on the trip with what happens to be a lively, empathetic crowd. She doesn’t have any agenda and just reaches a point of openness to what might come. I like that! It’s all happenstance, a series of simple coincidences and some sweet signs that she’s meant to take over the shell of a house. The shell is a great metaphor for how she feels about life.

    She’s around kind people and

  2. what more can you ask of life? When I travel for fun, that is how I like it to be, no strict plans, time for happy accidents and even little miracles. If you can, when you travel it is good to be vulnerable and open and without a lot of preconceptions about the places you visit – like Francis!

  3. @Gerard:
    Hey Gerard thanks for contributing to my site, I appreciate it…as far traveling, I def. agree with you 🙂 there are little miracles everyday if you pay attention…take care…Ivan

  4. You know, I don’t think I would have EVER even considered watching this movie, but after reading your post, I think I will. I am nearing major turning point in my life, and I’ve decided that instead of going back to school or trying to find the job that will make the most money, I am going to travel. Thanks for a great post.

    Jeffrey Lee’s last blog post..As seen in downtown Annapolis, MD

  5. Ciao Ivan-

    The title of your post caught my eye in my last sweep through Twitter before packing it in for the night. You didn’t say in your post whether you have ever been to Cortona. We go at least twice a year and it truly is a magical place- it taught me a lesson about being jaded and cynical about what life has to offer.

    My husband and I went to Chianti for our honeymoon 5 years ago. It is a 2nd marriage for both of us. We got married on a Wednesday in August and went about our busy lives. We went on our honeymoon in October. We arrived in Chianti and set about on daytrips to different Tuscan towns. Near the end of our trip my husband, who had read Under the Tuscan Sun, suggested we go to Cortona. I didn’t read the book, heard the movie was panned and distinctly thought the whole thing commercial, crass and “un-Tuscan”. He threw in the offer of a dinner at a world-class Relais and Chateaux and I reluctantly agreed… muttering about chintzy American tourism the whole way. We arrived in Cortona and I was awe-struck. It felt like coming home. We struck up conversations with shop keepers, restaurant owners and townspeople. We made friends who introduced us to more friends, who introduced us to more friends. The town is truly a magical place. I fell madly, deeply in love. We returned the next year and have been back, at least twice a year, ever since. We have been swept into the life of the town and when we arrive it’s a whirlwind of family dinners, conversations in the piazza and strolls through the park. My 9 year old son has a host of friends that he happily plays with when we return in the summer- Mateo, Christian, Alessandro, Morgan. They chatter away in Italian, English and Pokemon. When we come in the winter and Connor is in school, the town’s boys shyly ask “Do’ve Connor?” We walk by Bramasole every day in our walk around the town. In the summer, I crush the lavender that grows around the little creche in front of Bramasole. We’ve drank grappa and limoncello with Frances and Ed under a tuscan moon in the Piazza Signorelli (where the fountain was in the movie. No such fountain exists in Cortona…) and marveled that such a place exists- that the world isn’t so big after all.

    I love the story of spirit that Under the Tuscan Sun tells. Frances is a wonderful writer and her book is a love story to a town that makes you feel that life itself is magical. If you ever get a chance, if you haven’t been, go to Cortona. I’m counting the days until we’re there again in July.

    Pam Martin’s last blog post..The Chaos of My Thought Board

    • I fall in love with the movie…then after I saw it, with the people described…the sceneries…the spirit…and all those wonderful feeling everytime I seen it. I have been wanting to go there ever since, think of it everytime. Unfortunately my circumstances are close to impossible, but I still hope nevertheless…
      Read ur post and I just drawn more into it…really hope someday somehow I’ll get the chance to see it with my own eyes. If you could post some pictures of bramasole and scenery over there, I would be thrill… 🙂 GBU.

  6. I have yet to see the movie. I will have to check it out. My wife and I sold our house last year and purchased a RV and travel full time now. We love it. Life has so much more to offer than sitting around and upkeeping a sticks and bricks house stuck on a postage stamp.

    Scott Manesis’s last blog post..Choosing Products to Promote

  7. I saw the movie a while ago, maybe I’ll take another look.

    About the signs, well, sometimes they’re not easy to recognize. I once had a dream about a girl called Bianca (meaning White in Italian) I found her on a beach, but the rocks were made of ice and the sand was snow, she looked like an angel and I just wanted to touch her, just to make sure that was not a dream. She told me that she was of a different race, she could not be touched unless the one to do it truly loved her, otherwise she would die. I was so sure about my feelings… so I tried to reach and she ran, eventually I got her and guess what, she didn’t die. Okay, next day I woke up and remembered that dream better than any other but nothing. Later that night I was at a bar with a friend and I was speaking about the dream while we were buying tobacco from a machine, suddenly I noticed the brand of the machine standing in front of me… and guess what it was written Bianca… both me and him were like: Whoa! What the hell… one week later I received an Italian in my home for a couple of days because he came with a couple of students to see my school and one of his friends was at this girl’s house so we all met after school to take a walk around Lisbon with the italians… guess what, one week I was in love for that girl from my school who I had never seen before and so was she… I felt the sign, the dream, the tobacco machine, the italians… I jumped right in and guess what, we’re together for six years now and we love each other more and more everyday.

    Maybe that wasn’t a sign and we being together it’s just… meant to be. Who knows? I do!

    Be well.

    Pedro Mota’s last blog post..:Ocean

  8. Well it is a chick flick 😀 my wife cries every time she sees it, and that is about 3 o 4 times a year

  9. This is also one of my favorite movies, but I highly recommend the book. It is very different than the movie but still has that adventurous spirit that draws us into the movie. It took me forever to get into reading the book because it is so different but it is a book I cherish now. I had the good fortune of also finding my husband in Italy and the place truly is some place you go to that just feels like home. We are living in the states at the moment but I am always trying to convince him to move back. (although we have a good reason to stay put at the moment, our first child is due any week!)

    Great post though, the lessons from that movie and the book, are definitely worth keeping. Anything is possible if you just go for it 🙂

  10. @Mohammed: I wish I can marry this movie…it’s so great I made through the lowest most difficult moment in my life (divorce,losing a child,having to work on my own) with this movie played in my bedroom every night to get me go to sleep…I have become stronger and more enthusiastic towards my life,even though it has not become the way I want it to be. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh…better: it makes me smile…but I have become better than I ever been before and get the courage to move forward, to start a new life. U have no idea how this movie has done great to my life…now I am married with one beautiful son. I thanks Francess Mayes so much for ever wrote it…!

  11. I have been trying to find out who the character Katherine talks about after playing “Sylvia”..when she’s laying in bed she says “You know who my favorite character is from all the films…”Caberia” (or something like that…What was the name she was saying and what is the film?

  12. Hi Ivan. Loved the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun”! I watch it everytime i’m feeling down or need a little inspiration in my life, in my days! I can’t wait to read the book! Also loved your post! Thank you for your warm welcome “in your little home in the net”, like you said above! Kisses & hugs from Portugal.

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