When Fernando spots her in a Venice cafe and knows immediately that she is The One, Marlena de Blasi is caught off guard. A divorced American chef and food writer travelling in Italy, she is happy with her life. Yet within a few months of meeting Fernando, she quits her job, sells her house, kisses her two grown children goodbye, and moves to Venice to marry “the stranger” as she calls Fernando. Once there, she finds herself sitting in sugar-scented pastisseries, strolling through 16th-century palazzi, redecorating an apartment overlooking the Adriatic Sea and preparing her wedding in an ancient stone church. But living this romantic dream is not always a smooth path. De Blasi is sometimes bewildered by the peculiarities of Venetian culture, and even occasionally mystified at the differences evident between she and Fernando. His kitchen is “a cell with a Playskool stove”, and his spartan tastes are a world away from the sensual delights which she loves to create. Both set in their ways but also set on being together, they learn from each other what is important. The book is filled with the foods, flavours, sights and life of Venice.
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