by Melinda Gallo

Isabella Dusi at McRae Bookstore

Today on my way down via de' Neri to go to my parrucchiere (hairdresser), I saw a small billboard outside of the McRae bookstore saying that Isabella Dusi was going to be coming this evening. I had seen her books "Vanilla Beans and Brodo" and "Bel Vino" in the bookstore but never bought either one.

Isabella arrived with a few bottles of Brunello wine from Montalcino, where she lives. She sat down in the front and asked us our names. It felt more like an intimate gathering than a typical reading. Out of the ten of us there, a few of us live in Florence while the others were visiting Florence and other parts of Italy.

She was very personable and charmed us with her Australian accent. She opened up one of the bottles of wine and poured a glass for each of the attendees. She commented on how they didn't have the correct glasses to drink Brunello, which is supposed to be the large balloon glasses.

She continued to teach us about wine by showing us how to drink wine to distinguish the various qualities. She twirled the wine to get it to breathe and looked at it through the wine glass and down into the wine glass. I was amazed at how much she knew and has learned in her 12 years of living in Montalcino.

She also explained to us how she got published and how she only started writing eight years ago. She told us the story of how someone gave her the number of an agent in England who sold her first manuscript to Simon and Schuster. She declared that the publishing of her books was a fortunate chain of events.

After talking to us for an extra half an hour, she signed books for almost everyone who came. I bought her "Bel Vino" book, which she said was the one she prefers although she did admit that maybe because she wote that one last. She says that she's busy working on another book and continues her travel business with her husband.

The McRae bookstore offers us a great opportunity to meet and talk with professional writers. When I lived in the States, I'd been to bookstores to see a few writers speak and usually it was hard to talk to them. No writer at the McRae bookstore has read an excerpt of their books, but it's quite nice to just listen to them talk about their lives.

I'm looking forward to a few other writers who will be coming to the bookstore in the next few months, like Jeff Shapiro, who wrote "Secrets of Sant'Angelo" and Sarah Dunant, who wrote "The Birth of Venus."

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