Italy is the cradle of European civilization, established by the Roman Empire and carried on by the Roman Catholic Church. As a traveler there, you’ll see some of the world’s most iconic images from the 2,000-year history: the Coloseum of Ancient Rome, the medieval Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Venus that signal the Renaissance, the Trevi Fountain, and the Italian city that preserves this legacy in a state of elegant decay – Venice.
Beyond these famous sites, though, Italy offers Europe’s richest culture. Traditions still live within a country that is vibrant and fully modern. Go with an eye open to both the Italy of the past and of the present. –Reprinted from Rick Steves’ Italy
Pages: 1104 pages
Dimensions: 8 x 4.5 x 1.2 inches
Weight: 1.1 pounds
Maps: Rick Steves includes hand drawn maps in his books which can be helpful in showing you the layout of an area but are not helpful in getting you to a specific place, especially in larger cities where more street names and landmarks would be helpful. You will definitely need a supplemental street map to accompany those in this book.
Pictures: There are no photographs to speak of
What I like about Rick Steves’ Italy:
- People who like Rick Steves follow him with an almost fanatical devotion. I have to admit his are among my favorite guidebooks but I am always hesitant to try his small hotels for fear of running into a hoard of Rick Steves devotees.
- This book covers Rome, Venice, Florence, the hill towns of central Italy, the Dolomites and the Amalfi Coast.
- A new Rick Steves Italian Guidebook is due out in October 2008. In the past, there have been very few changes made from one year to the next.
- The Rick Steves guidebooks provide tips on hotels, restaurants, etc. that are out of the major tourist zones.
- The sites are rated and generally I agree with his ratings.
- Mr. Steves has loads of opinions and he is not afraid to share them. This is helpful for your first trip to Italy and maybe even your second, but as you make repeat trips to a country his advice can become annoying as you start to form your own opinions.
- Suggestions for day trips, walking tours and trip itineraries are provided.
- These guidebooks provide the names of budget hotels and restaurants as well as more expensive places to stay and eat and he often lets you know when it is worth spending the extra money.
- There really is a Rick Steves. It is nice to know that there is a real face behind the books.
- Rick likes to get to know the locals and encourages others to do the same. Strike up a conversation with the staff of a hotel or restaurant. Talk to the person sitting next to you on a train or waiting in line to buy a ticket. These conversations give you insights into the place you are visiting that you will not find in any guidebook. To encourage this Rick Steves provides names of hotel and restaurant owners which is a nice touch, one I have not found in other guidebooks. Since ownership of establishments does not change hands as often in Italy as in the US, chances are the names he provides are still current.
- Side boxes with helpful information are included. These boxes provide information on such things as tipping.
- The “Helpful Hints” section has useful information on avoiding theft, pickpockets, etc., a problem many of us have encountered.
- These books make for good reading before your trip and his folksy style makes you comfortable with traveling to a foreign country. If you have ever seen him on TV you get the feeling that if he can travel then so can I.
- His writing is conversational – you feel like he is talking directly to you.
What I Don’t Like about Rick Steves’ Italy:
- When Rick Steves writes about it, his fans will flock there in droves making whatever it is ….hotel, restaurant or site, crowded with American tourists. I have stayed in small hotels where everyone there was carry a Rick Steves Guidebook.
- I do not find the book to be as user friendly when you are on the go as some of the other guides. It is easy to find the city in the book but it is difficult to find information on a specific place in a city.
- In general, I prefer books that focus on a city or region. This book is way too big and heavy to carry around all day.
- His writing is conversational – sometimes you just want the facts.