A filmmaker documents five years spent in Italy with 75 dramatic slice-of-life portraits.
Credit: Davies + Starr

Douglas Gayeton invites us to the fields, barns, butcher shops, and dinner tables where he learned how to live and eat in the Tuscan countryside. Inspired by pre-Renaissance narrative paintings, the filmmaker stitched together dozens of evocative, large-format sepia photographs capturing scenes of daily rural life in Pistoia. He then etched them with marginalia and centuries-old Tuscan proverbs pronounced proudly by his friends and neighbors: All or nothing; Everyone must know their place; Better to spend money at the butcher than the pharmacist. “When I began to understand the sayings,” he says, “I began to understand the culture.” His sumptuous chronicle leaves us hungry for more. Welcome Books; welcomebooks.com; $50.