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UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN

About The Story
When San Francisco writer Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) suddenly finds herself divorced and feeling hopelessly lost, it is of all things a house that comes to her rescue. 

More precisely, it is a fresh way of life that saves her. She decides to be spontaneous, even bold about things that frighten her. Very little else makes sense; an opportunity presents itself. 

Why not buy a house in Tuscany? 

Like a swashbuckler of the heart, Frances is called upon to be fearless – courageous in the face of thunder and lightning, steadfast before walls which topple in a roar, determined to fill an empty house – but with what? Harder still, she is called upon to embrace love again. 

At first, she is challenged by the love of her friend Patti, who all but forces her to accept the gift of an Italian trip. Once in Tuscany, she is provoked by the angelic teases of a hedonist named Katherine (Lindsay Duncan), who urges her to, in the words of Fellini, "live spherically,” to grab life while it is passing within reach. As Frances tries, she is beguiled by Signor Martini (Vincent Riotta), the kindly, attractive realtor who helps her buy "Bramasole,” the rosy villa that has caught her eye. She is also both stirred and taunted by the half comic, half-dire charade of young love being acted out by one of her handymen, Pawel (Pawel Szadja), together with Chiara (Giulia Steigerwalt), the daughter of a local landowner. Isn't heartbreak hard enough without having to be embroiled in other people's dramas? 

When a jaw-droppingly handsome Italian named – what else? – Marcello (Raoul Bova) crosses her path, Frances feels her whole being snap wide awake. Happiness beckons. But now she really has something to be frightened of. 

Could she survive a second catastrophic heartbreak? Would Tuscany? 

In November 1998, Tom Sternberg was producing "The Talented Mr. Ripley” in Italy. It was the penultimate week of the movie's seventeen-week shooting schedule, and the crew was working in the Tuscan town of Pienza for one day. After finishing the shooting day, Sternberg adjourned to a nearby wine bar with director Anthony Minghella and actor Matt Damon. It was there that fate intervened, resulting in a sequence of events that reflect in many ways the threads of chance and coincidence that characterize Frances Mayes's own story. 

"I noticed a couple picking out wine glasses,” Sternberg recalls. "They were speaking English and we struck up a conversation, only to find out that it was Frances and Ed Mayes.” Sternberg had read – and enjoyed – Mayes's bestselling memoir a year earlier, and was astounded to meet the author. An international success, Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun sold 2 million copies in the U.S. and spent 126 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. It has been translated into 15 different languages, with further translations planned, and also is a bestseller in the U.K., Australia, Italy, France, Spain, Israel and Holland. But while the film producer had enjoyed the engaging memoir of an American poet and literature professor who carved out a new life in the Tuscan hills, he had not considered it for film treatment. 

"Under the Tuscan Sun is a memoir – the story of my life in Italy – and there was no big dramatic event in it,” says Frances Mayes. "So when people talked to me about making a film, they wanted there to be a murder in it or something like that. I didn't want that to happen.” 

Less than two years later, in March 2000, Sternberg met the Mayeses again in Los Angeles, where all three were guests of the Tuscan Film Commission. At that point Tom Sternberg reread the book and realized its potential as a film, one that would be a faithful adaptation of Mayes's memoir. 

Sternberg and executive producer Mark Gill gave the book to Audrey Wells ("The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” "Guinever

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