Victoria Cosford, a 20-something Australian language student in Florence, meets and falls for the charismatic and volatile Italian chef Gianfranco, who teaches her to cook.

So begins a love affair with Italy and Italian food that stretches over 30 years and several visits as Victoria is tugged repeatedly from her Sydney life back to Gianfranco’s restaurants.

It is an addiction fraught with challenges and difficult to shake.

“Amore and Amaretti”, Victoria’s first book, is a disarmingly vulnerable autobiographical account of growing through love’s seasons.

Structured as a diary spanning 22 years, the book is interspersed with humour, heartbreak and mouth-watering regional recipes – the signature dishes of Gianfranco’s restaurants.

Amore and Amaretti will be launched at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

An intimate dinner with Victoria Cosford will be held at 6:45pm on Tuesday August 31 at The Byron at Byron Resort, where Head Chef Gavin Hughes will cook recipes from Victoria’s book and guests will hear first-hand of her Tuscan adventures.

Two courses and a glass of Italian wine will be $45 and reservations can be made by telephoning 6687 5674 or emailing caroline@carolinedesmond.com.au

“It is very exciting and tremendously relieving to have finally managed to get my story out, which I have so wanted to tell, into book form,” said Victoria Cosford.

“Most of the recipes are fairly simple and I do hope that they bring some pleasure.”

“Victoria’s marvellous descriptions of restaurant life take us behind the scenes to a Tuscany rarely seen by tourists and travellers,” said Joanna Savill, Director of the Sydney International Food Festival. “She’s an immensely talented writer and cook”.

Outside of cooking in Tuscan restaurants, Victoria’s adventures and achievements to date include achieving a BA in languages at ANU in Canberra, many years selling advertising space for publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Italian newspaper ‘La Fiamma’, teaching Italian cooking at community colleges for 20 years and working extensively in the hospitality industry in Sydney including three years’ co-running a cafe on the Northern Beaches.

She has lived in Byron Bay for the past 10 years, working at The Byron Shire Echo for the past eight.

Victoria is currently leader of the Byron Bay convivium of the Slow Food Movement and for the last few years has worked as a reviewer for the annual Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Food Guide’.

Amore and Amaretti is available now at Mary Ryans book stores for $24.95.