Carmela Ciuraru
June 06, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

George Eliot’s Florence at dawn — its ”olive mounts and pine forests, and the broad plains green with young corn” — to Muriel Spark’s Venice, ”a city not to inspire thought but sensations,” Italy’s enchanting landscape, glorious architecture, and Lucullan meals are celebrated in this anthology of women writers edited by Susan Cahill, Desiring Italy. The more than two dozen odes to Italy’s myriad pleasures — told through fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, and organized by region — offer a literary Baedeker, as well as a historical and cultural one. ”Whenever I go anywhere but Italy,” writes Erica Jong, ”I always feel as if I have made a mistake.” A

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