2003 Certificate: 12


Diane Lane stars in this gorgeous-looking romance as an emotionally bruised American divorcee who decides to rebuild her life in picture perfect Tuscany. Having fallen in love with the Italian countryside, she finds much more to fall in love with after buying a dilapidated villa on a whim. Based on the novel by Frances Mayes.


  • Audrey Wells


  • Diane Lane

  • Raoul Bova

  • Sandra Oh

  • Lindsay Duncan


An impulse buy while on holiday in Italy is normally confined to a wooden Pinnochio puppet, a Chianti bottle wrapped in raffia or a bottle of olive oil.

Newly-divorced American literary professor Frances Mayes (Lane) goes one further - she buys a villa after fleetingly glancing at the property from a tourist bus.

Shell-shocked from her marriage split, speaking no Italian and unsure why she made the rash purchase in the first place, it looks like a big mistake.

But by slowly getting to know her neighbours and embarking on a restoration scheme with a gang of comedy Polish labourers, she rediscovers the pleasures of life.

Loosely based on the best-selling novel by the real-life Frances Mayes, this is dollops of sentimentality served like ladles of Italian ice cream.

It's a shamelessly romanticised world of gelato-guzzling nuns, honey-coloured stone churches in poppy fields and bambinos clustering around red Ferraris.

Lane herself seems to making a pitch for Meg Ryan's rom-com mantle, which means pouting winsomely and giggling through life's adversities.

Even before leaving San Francisco, the stereotypes are present and correct with Frances' best buddy an Asian lesbian single-mum model of political correctness.

In Italy, it doesn't get much better with sleek romeos seemingly tumbling out of Cornetto commercials to give Frances the eye.

Estate agent Signor Martini (Vincent Riotta) would like to live up to his name and take a tumble with Frances anytime, any place anywhere - if he wasn't married with two kids.

Duncan lives la dolce vita as the sort of free-spirited British vamp delighting the locals but whose fingers you'd like to ram into a pasta machine.

Even the most Barbara Cartland fixated cinama-goer - who this is presumably pitched at - would find the romantic idyll difficult to swallow. Tuscany looks nice, though.