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awesome landscapes. The National Parks, which coincides with a Burns/Duncan documentary series airing on PBS this fall, is a comprehensive, lushly illustrated history rich with first-person accounts from John Muir to an Ahwahneechee Indian. An American Idea reaches back to Plato to ponder the question: Why preserve wild places at all? A former park ranger, Heacox traces the philosophical, artistic, and literary inspirations for a once-radical conservation ideal we now take for granted.

Slow: Life in A Tuscan Town BY DOUGLAS GAYETON (Welcome Books, $50) In the 1990s, multimedia artist Douglas Gayeton moved with his wife to her home village of Pistoia, not far from Florence. Things didn’t work out as planned with the renovation of their 300-yearold apartment, but rather than returning to California, Gayeton plunged deep into the traditions of his adopted home with a willing palate and his camera. He foraged for wild salad, joined in on secretive mushroom hunts, brought bad luck to a boar hunt, and much more – his shutter clicking madly along the way. Slow reassembles multiple shots of such experiences into single sepia-toned images, which

Gayeton illustrates with handwritten notes, recipes, identifications, and expressions. The finished product is part painting, poem, and film, rich with mouthwatering detail. It’s a satisfying and simultaneously hunger-inducing portrait of living close to the land, in sync with nature. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea BY DAYTON DUNCAN AND KEN BURNS (Alfred A. Knopf, $50) and An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks BY KIM HEACOX (National Geographic, $15) Two books exploring the origins of a uniquely American concept take different but complementary approaches, with each inspiring a visit to these

Rice Pasta Couscous: The Heart of the Mediterranean Kitchen BY JEFF KOEHLER (Chronicle Books, $30) Barcelona resident and Virtuoso Life contributor Jeff Koehler serves up the building blocks of Mediterranean cuisine. The culinary journey begins with a cultural primer, followed by cooking tips and 80 recipes gleaned from Koehler’s experiences cooking and eating his way from Spain through North Africa to Turkey and back along southern Europe’s shores. Craving for Travel: Celebrating Life’s Moments BY JIM STRONG (Brown Books, $25) Cherry-picking from among the finest destinations in the world, travel advisor Jim Strong presents more than 40 locations for proposals, weddings, birthdays, reunions, and more. Prepare to swoon at sites ranging from a baronial house in Scotland and elegant lodges in New Zealand and Alaska to a sultan’s palace in Morocco, then hatch plans for a big event. – LISA WOGAN


The world’s architectural icons – from Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Athens’ Parthenon to Dubai’s Burj Al Arab and Sydney’s Opera House – assemble on the World Skyline Pen from New York-based Jac Zagoory Designs. A virtual International Date Line separates the hemispheres, with Western landmarks silhouetted by day and those in the East outlined against a night sky. $65 at




Written in the Sky

Virtuoso Life reviews Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town  
Virtuoso Life reviews Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town  

September 2009, review of Slow: Life in a "Tuscan Town" with image