Under The Tuscan Sun: My Visit To Bramasole

Greetings Dear Friends! I’ve just returned from a day touring Herculaneum, one of the cities buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. I can’t wait to share the photos I took with you. I was so amazed to see how much they valued decorating and having a beautiful home and garden even back in 79 AD. I guess I thought they would be too busy coping with the daily needs of life (food, shelter, etc…) to worry about ornamentation or beauty in the home.

Some of the things that we learned were a bit shocking and things we would never do today (like recycling human urine and feces) but it’s really surprising how much we have in common with those who lived so long ago. They really did know how to enjoy the good life and took time for a bit of pampering at the local spa, something we could all use a bit more of in our daily, rushed lives.

Today I’m taking you under the Tuscan sun! Italy, as long as I can remember, has been a country I have wanted to see in person, but after seeing the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, I was more determined than ever to one day visit the Tuscany area.

En route to Cortona, I asked our Tour Director if we would have an opportunity to see Frances Mayes’s actual villa. When several other folks voiced an interest in finding it, our director told us he would call a taxi to take us to it.

And so he did! Can you tell I was just a little bit excited? 😉 If you follow BNOTP on Instagram, you saw this pic of me being silly. I’ve been posting quite a bit on Instagram since I can usually find WiFi in the restaurants when we stop for lunch and dinner. (Follow BNOTP on Instagram here: BNOTP on Instagram)


Frances Mayes Tuscan Home, Bramasole, in Cortona


My first impressions upon seeing Bramasole, the home Frances Mayes and her hubby restored and she subsequently wrote about in her book, Under The Tuscan Sun, was how beautifully landscaped the whole front area is around the driveway. She writes rather humorously about the rebuilding of the “Great Wall” in the book and it was a delight to see it in person. The landscaping is truly beautiful.

Bramasole, Frances Mayes Beautiful Villa in Cortona Italy


The other thing I noticed right away was the soft peachy/rose/coral colors of the home. It’s so pretty with the green of the shutters.

Bramasole, Frances Mayes Villa Home in Cortona


I was reading the book, Under The Tuscan Sun, on the flight to Italy and I had just gotten to the part where they were being visited by the ironsmith (or whatever they are called) to determine if the old gate could be saved or if a new one would be needed. I’m not sure if they decided to keep the old one or go with a new one, but I’m thinking they may have kept the old one because (in the book) she wants the new gate (if one is to be built) to have a sun in the top center to go with the name, Bramasole. I don’t see a sun so maybe they refurbished the old gate. Anyone remember what they decided in the book? I’ll have to read on tonight to remember what they decided.

Driveway of Bramasole, Villa Home in Cortona Italy


This was in the stone wall leading up the driveway. I guess that’s where they collect their mail each day. Can you imagine all the mail Frances must get!

Frances Mayes Villa Home, Bramasole in Cortona Italy


I was so tickled to find the actual shrine the old man visits each day in the book and in the movie. Much of the movie is fanciful and not true to Frances Mayes own life, but many of the charming details and wonderful adventures in the movie were taken from her everyday life and experiences in those early days after they purchased the villa and began restoring it. The man visiting the shrine each day in the movie is an actual occurrence in the book so seeing the shrine in person was a treat!

The Shrine in front of Bramasole, Frances Mayes Italy Home


If you would like to take a tour of this home as it was in the movie, you’ll find that tour here: Tour the Villa in Under the Tuscan Sun.

Shrine in Under The Tuscan Sun


Here’s the view one would have looking out one of the windows on the front of the home.

View from Bramasole, Frances Mayes Home in Cortona Italy


You can see why Frances Mayes fell for this wonderful villa.

View from Bramasole, Frances Mayes Villa in Cortona Italy


Thanks for coming along on this adventure! I’m looking forward to sharing more of it with you real soon.

Bramasole, Frances Mayes Villa Home in Cortona

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  1. So cool to see the place from the book. I saw the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Hi Susan! Tuscany and Bramasole are on my wish list, too. I would love to see the color of the villa in person. Thanks for sharing your travels with us – can’t wait to see what’s next!

    • Donna, it’s such a pretty color! If I’m remembering correctly, I think they either just cleaned it or somehow made sure nothing changed the original color of the exterior. She wanted to keep it looking old, which I love.

  3. Glad your wish came true; what a dream of an unexpected stop!!

  4. Linda Page says

    You look pleased as punch with your visit to the Villa! How fortunate that your tour guide could get you over there. As my Aunt Elizabeth would say, “How serendipitous!” I will have to tell you all about her and that word some time. You are bundled up so you must be in a cool climate right now. I love the house and grounds. What fun!

    • Oh, I want to hear that story! It was misting rain that day off and on and I’m very cold-natured, so I’m always bundled up. We were sooo lucky because it didn’t rain the entire time we were at the house, so we were able to take a bunch of pictures. You can’t tell it, but the jeans I’m wearing have little white umbrellas all over them. lol And the boots are plaid duck boots. I was dressed for the rain! I walked out and left my Barbour jacket on the kitchen table, but fortunately I had tucked my windbreaker in the bag. I’ve worn it daily here, although not all day. Some days warm up to the 70’s but the mornings are always cool. The weather is actually very much like the weather I left in Atlanta.

      • Linda Page says

        Wish we had some of the cool weather and rain. It has been in the 90’s and dry as the Sahara! Sorry you missed the book signing but I bet you would rather be in Italy than Buckhead!!!! I’m just saying! :>)

  5. Carol Bechtloff says

    Hi Susan,
    Loved your picture and comments about Under the Tuscon Sun! Loved both books and Movie as well. Question please about the basket on the red door “Enter to shop my Favorite Things”. Where can I find that white long basket. Help please!

    • Thanks, Carol! I’m not sure where you could find the basket now. I purchased it 5-6 years ago in an antique shop on the Marietta Square in Georgia. Unfortunately, that store is no longer in business. I see them in stained colors occasionally. You may want to google for rattan or wicker door basket and if you see one in another color other than white, buy it and spray paint it. If I see one online, I’ll let you know. Now isn’t the best time to look for a white one since we’re going into fall.

  6. Oh Susan there is no other place I would rather be.

  7. Hi Susan- oh you lucky lady! What a true delight to have seen this gorgeous home in person! One of my favorite books of all time – I read it way before it was made into a movie. I loved the movie too and watch it all the time.

    I read a while back Frances M sold that home though, so don’t think she lives there anymore. I could be wrong, but don’t think so.

    If I ever won a lottery I would so move there. Or possibly Provence area of France – at least I speak French, haha. I would starve in Italy probably not knowing how to communicate with locals.

    Hope you are enjoying your trip – how could you not? Right? Hugs!

    • Someone on our trip said they thought she had sold it. When I got back to the room where I have my laptop, I googled and googled and couldn’t find anything saying she had sold it. The only thing I found was several articles saying that she purchased a second home that was not far from the Cortona square…a home that was once lived in by followers of St. Frances. It said she restored/renovated it and put it on the market for 5+ million. I’m not sure if it has sold or not. So, I think she still owns her original villa. If she sold it, I can’t find anything about it online.
      I cracked up when a reader left a comment on Instagram saying that while I’m at her house, she’s in Buckhead (Atlanta) signing books in a book store. lol Figures I go all the way to Italy and miss her book signing that’s 30 minutes from my home!

  8. How wonderful of you to share this most awesome place with us!
    I loved the movie…..because of the house and the country it was in…
    and now that you’ve gone there and better yet…shared it with us all..
    I’m making the trip there as the very 1st thing to do on my “Bucket List”!
    Wow…what a beautiful place!
    Wishing you the very best!

  9. Is that a headstone under the tree above the wall shrine? Or, just a plaque of some kind. I love to look at old headstones. So many are architecturally beautiful, wrought by talented artisans with lovely, poetic epitaphs.

    • I just looked at the original photo and enlarged it and it doesn’t look like a headstone. It looks like a really old stone post with a hole through the center maybe. Hard to tell exactly what it is. If I come across that in the book as I continue reading, I’ll let you know. I didn’t notice it while we were there.

  10. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    Susan, you look so well and happy. Glad to see you are having the time of your life. 🙂

  11. Susan, I’m so glad you are taking lots of pictures with you in them. It personalizes them so! I, too, am determined to see Tuscany one day. I’ve seen Under the Tuscan Sun more than once because I love that area of the world so much. I also am enjoying your instagram pictures. I can’t wait to see what goodies you return with!

  12. Marlene Stephenson says

    All of this looks great and i want to come now but,i have commitments so i better stay for my grandkids sake but it is rough. lol Thanks to you at least i can see some and dream.

  13. Oh Susan, I am so envious in a good way! I’ve read all her books and watch the movie probably once every couple of months. To see Bramasole as it really is was truly wonderful! I’m glad you went. Loving the pictures, keep sending them. Can’t wait to hear your impressions about your trip when you get back. Safe travels.

  14. Oh you lucky dog!! LOL…. I didn’t know there was such a wall build up to it. I thought that little road with the shrine was just below her window. Trick photography! I didn’t actually know a book had been written that inspired the movie. I’m terrible about reading books. I adored that movie and it does make you want to fly right on over there to see it! I’m so glad you got a chance to see it. 🙂

  15. One of my all time fave movies – thank you so much for sharing this gorgeous place!

  16. Hi Susan! How fun to visit the home of Frances Mayes! I just watched the movie not to long ago. What an amazing view! I can’t imagine waking up to that beautiful site every morning. Nice to see you are having fun!

  17. Enjoying your trip and adventures. Love the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Did not even think of there being a real home. It is beautiful. You look beautiful too- Under the Tuscan Sun. Have a wonderful time and enjoy the great food and wine.

  18. Living vicariously through you for the next couple of weeks. Loving your Instagram photos! What fun to actually get to see that beautiful villa! I hope one day to see it also. Glad you are having a grand time!

  19. bobbi duncan says

    Oh, I am so drooling right now! Have traveled to so many places and, yet, not to Italy….and I am part Italian and have family over there. Seeing all your pictures has shown me just how beautiful the country is…maybe next trip. I love all the flowers and gorgeous old architecture…divine! You can just see, from looking at your pictures, that you are having the most wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing all the fun.

  20. Thanks for sharing your trip with everyone. As soon as you posted about your trip, I got out my DVD of ” Under the Tuscan Sun” and watched it again. I love the movie and would love to visit Tuscany. I am really enjoying the picture you post. By the way, it was 32 degrees in the western NC mountains this morning! But the leaves are finally getting some color.
    Enjoy every minute of your travels and come home safely.

  21. This would be a dream come true for me! I LOOOOOVVVE that movie and that house and the area….would love to visit it ! Thanks for sharing! karen…

  22. Susan, thank you for this post featuring my favorite movie! The house and land are simply amazing! Glad you are having the time of your life and I wish I was taking the tour with you! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Hello Susan, We visited Cortona the same time you were there. We stayed in a beautiful villa nearby, “Borgo Il Melone”. Cortona has changed so much and is so crowded that staying in a country villa was the perfect answer.
    I read somewhere and a few years ago that Frances was so tired of people insisting that they should see her house that she decided to sell it.

    • A couple of folks on our trip said they thought she had sold it but I googled a good bit and couldn’t find anything anywhere saying she had sold it. She did buy another home that was once lived in my followers of St. Francis, then fixed it up and put it on the market to sell. If you find an article online anywhere that says she sold her villa, please send me the link. I couldn’t find anything about it anywhere and I can’t believe that it would sell and there not be a gazillion articles about it online. So, that makes me think she still owns it.

    • Oh, and if you write a best seller that’s all about a house and it becomes a well-loved movie, you have to expect your fans are going to want to see THE house that was the subject of the book and movie. Comes with the territory. I wouldn’t think she would mind very much since fans never go up to the house (it’s gated) and she and hubby can have all the privacy they want in the grounds surrounding the home. It’s really set up beautifully for their privacy, being so high up.

  24. Those who think the villa was sold are probably confusing it with the villa that “stood in” for Bramisole in the filming of the movie. That villa did go up for sale.

  25. I loved the movie…and I love seeing it (and you) in your great picture. Oh those rock walls! Love. And can you grab a couple of those rectangular clay planters. I ‘m sure the airlines would be ok with it. Not! ha.
    The houses of Tuscany are much like the old homes and small chateaux in the south of France. Tile roof and stucco. Sweet story about the shrine! Ahhhhh.

  26. Hi SuSan,
    I feel I am so far behind looking at your wonderful trip pictures! Are you still on your trip ?? looks like a wonderful time for sure !!

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