What Is the Movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" About?

by Leslie Nierste

"Under the Tuscan Sun" is a 2003 romantic-comedy based off Frances Mayes' book of the same name. The main character, Frances Mayes, a San Francisco-based author, moves suddenly to Tuscany after the shocking discovery of her husband's infidelity. In Tuscany, she attempts to heal her wounds, find inspiration for her writing and perhaps even new love. The movie features actors including Diane Lane, Sandra Oh and Lindsay Duncan.

Divorce and a Bus Tour

The movie opens at a San Francisco book signing, where a disgruntled author whom Frances had poorly reviewed hints at her husband's infidelity. The film then flashes forward to a few months later in the lawyer's office where Frances learns her husband wants the house. Frances concedes and moves out of her house without taking any of her belongings except for her books. The film flashes forward a year later when Frances' divorce has been finalized and she is celebrating with best friend Patti, who reveals her pregnancy to Frances. Patti gives Frances a ticket to go to Tuscany on a two-week bus tour. Reluctant Frances agrees to go when Patti tells her she's worried she'll never recover from her divorce.


During Frances' bus tour, the company stops off in a small Tuscan town for lunch. During lunch, Frances explores the town and comes across a bulletin board featuring houses for sale in the area; the house named Bramasole catches her eye. The bus tour departs but is stopped when a flock of sheep blocks the road just outside of the Bramasole house. As the bus begins to move again, Francis stops the bus on a whim and tours Bramasole alone. She discovers that the house is in fairly bad shape, but when she meets its owner, she buys the house anyway.


After surviving a particularly bad thunderstorm in her new house, Frances begins to interview contractors to renovate the house. After a few failed interviews, Frances hires a contractor with a Polish band of workers to start rebuilding. As Frances settles in, she meets her neighbors, who teach her about olive farming. While at dinner with these neighbors, she meets Katherine, a free-spirited Englishwoman who tells her she stays happy by never losing her childish enthusiasm.


The film flashes forward a few months. Francis' house is still under renovation, and she has made a family out of her renovators. She has begun cooking elaborate dinners and teases her youngest construction worker friend, Pawel, about his budding romance with her neighbor's daughter Chiara. She receives a shock when Katherine calls her "boring" and chastises her for being sad all the time. Frustrated, Frances leaves for Rome for a vacation. There, she meets the charming Marcello and quickly falls into bed with him.

Patti's Arrival

On her way to meet Marcello for a weekend at his place, Frances discovers that Patti has flown from San Francisco to see her. Frances discovers Patti's partner has left her and that Patti intends to deliver the baby in Italy. While she is olive farming with her neighbors, Marcello tries to visit Frances, barely missing her. Frances is distraught until Patti suddenly goes into labor. She gives birth to a baby girl, Alexandra.

Completing Renovations

Pawel comes to tell Frances that the renovations on the house are complete. Feeling sad that her friends have left, Frances decides to visit Marcello, only to find that he has moved on with another woman. He tells her that since they kept missing each other, he felt that their relationship was not meant to be. She returns home crushed.

A Wedding

After some help from Frances, Pawel has secured the blessing of Chiara's family to propose to Chiara. Frances hosts the reception at her house. As the reception goes on, Frances realizes that she has everything she ever wanted. At the reception, Frances meets another American author, with whom she later falls in love.


  • "Under the Tuscan Sun"; Audrey Wells; 2003