He also gives some pointers on how this can be achieved..even if you don't happen to live, as he and his family do, in a beautifully restored ancient Tuscan villa surrounded by vineyards.
With humor and personal tidbits about his early life in Hungary, growing up in Canada and as a world traveler, Maté explains that it is not the quantity of stuff, the size of house,car or boat, but the little things and personal connections that make life satisfying.
His musings on the importance of neighbors, freedom of children to grow up in a healthy society, the ability to find satisfaction and magic in small simple things all strike true notes.
A good read from cover to cover, the book can also be opened at random for a daily dose of Tuscan wisdom. It is almost like sitting down with Ferenc for a chat over a glass of vino - which he mentions often, since he and his wife Candace produce one of Montalcino's wonderful wines.
|an ancient convent surrounded by the vineyards|
The Wisdom of Tuscany is not a romp through the luscious Tuscan landscape and lifestyle, it goes beyond the pretty prose that fills travel books and Hollywood films. Nor is his prose anything like that of "instant" writers who blog about their golden expat lifestyle.
The Maté family are year round residents who make a living creating fine wine and books - both difficult tasks that can be backbreaking and lonely. This book is also a hymn to small town safety, the multi-generational family, closeness to nature and quality of life.
As the world gets more global and hectic our sense of isolation increases. The fact that people continue to need each other and stick together as they do in smaller Italian towns is reassuring.
|entrance to the cantina|
Provincial Italy -in any of the 20 regions, not just Tuscany- is not a "golden ghetto" for the elite. Those of us who are permanent residents face problems daily that are very real, problems that a 2-week visitor does not see nor even imagine. Even expats who have trasferred permanently to Italy spend years in the "honeymoon phase" before becoming aware of what really goes on.
In the past few years the rolling landscape of central Italy has been experiencing an invasion of monstrous giant eolica towers of wind farms "planted" on the photogenic hills by unscrupulous speculators who live far away. Some towns have problems with arsenic in the water and we all know of bright young university graduates who have had to emigrate abroad to find decent jobs.
|An interior courtyard|
Ferenc must have kept dedicated diaries of his first impressions for his narration creates images that roll easily off the keyboard. His style is witty and the language similar to that of Polish-born novelist Conrad, who, like Maté , wrote in his second language -English.
|Come in for a glass of wine|
Next month I hope to showcase another writer who escaped the big city to follow a simpler, but tougher, lifestyle. I already have a few in mind, but readers' suggestions are welcome.