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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice guidebook -- seems better than the alternatives
This is a thorough, attractive, useful guidebook printed in all color with many attractive maps and photographs.

I briefly read through some of the other reviews and was struck by how experienced some of them seem to be with guidebooks. I write on the basis of more limited experience. I have traveled (and lived in) the UK and taken one trip through Italy,...
Published on April 25, 2012 by Silvester Percival

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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed redesign of a classic guidebook
The 2012 edition of Lonely Planet's guide to Italy mostly lives up to LP's usual standards. The guide contains a blend of practical advice, historical facts, travelers' stories, and inspiring photographs. It is the sort of guide that can be used both for trip planning and for taking along on the trip itself.

Those who are unfamiliar with Lonely Planet should...
Published on March 26, 2012 by korova


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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed redesign of a classic guidebook, March 26, 2012
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
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The 2012 edition of Lonely Planet's guide to Italy mostly lives up to LP's usual standards. The guide contains a blend of practical advice, historical facts, travelers' stories, and inspiring photographs. It is the sort of guide that can be used both for trip planning and for taking along on the trip itself.

Those who are unfamiliar with Lonely Planet should know a few things before purchasing this book:
* LP targets independent, do-it-yourself types of travelers (who often have backpacks, railpasses, and youth hostel cards).
* Travelers who are focused on staying in top-ranked hotels and eating at expensive restaurants probably won't find LP's sleeping and eating recommendations to be very useful.
* Most LP guides that cover large regions, including this one, are written by a team of contributors.
* New editions of a guide usually are updates of previous versions and are not entirely rewritten from scratch.

So, how useful is this guide to Italy? As with most things, it depends. If you want to travel around Italy in DIY style or you want better coverage of cultural and outdoor activities than is offered by more mainstream guides, such as Fodor's or Frommer's, then LP is a good guidebook for you. On the other hand, if you aren't interested in straying off the beaten path much, the LP ethos may not be a good fit for you.

Also, if you are only visiting a single region or just a couple of cities, this guide might be overkill because it covers the entire country. There are plenty of city and regional guides from LP and other guidebook publishers that will cover, say, Rome or Sicily in much greater detail than a national guide and omit several hundred pages of information you won't need.

Bottom line: I have used LP guides for many years and have always found them to be very useful. This guide to Italy is no exception. However, some sections that used to be included in all LP guidebooks were removed in the redesign. While the omission of these sections won't have much effect on trip planning, the missing information, especially from the old Dangers & Annoyances and Health chapters, was often invaluable during a trip. For me, this brings what could be a 4 or 5 star rating to a 3 star rating.

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Note for long-time Lonely Planet readers: there has been a substantial redesign of the look and feel of LP guidebooks. Most of the information you've relied upon in the past is still there but there are several new features as well. One of the best is a FAQ of sorts near the beginning of the book called "Need to Know." It gathers together critical information that is frequently needed both pre-trip and intra-trip. Also, LP has done away with the glossy-paper photo sections and now uses color throughout the entire book. This change has especially improved the local maps by making them immensely easier to read. Finally, LP now includes a pullout street map of a popular city (for this guide, Rome) in its national guidebooks.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice guidebook -- seems better than the alternatives, April 25, 2012
This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
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This is a thorough, attractive, useful guidebook printed in all color with many attractive maps and photographs.

I briefly read through some of the other reviews and was struck by how experienced some of them seem to be with guidebooks. I write on the basis of more limited experience. I have traveled (and lived in) the UK and taken one trip through Italy, Greece, and Turkey. I wish I had had this guidebook then. It's very nice and easy to read and much more useful than what I had for my trip.

The book itself covers the whole of Italy, making its coverage broader and less detailed about any specific place. The material is organize by region, typically with several cities, or a province, or region, being grouped together in a chapter. Each chapter then opens with several basic issues. Subheadings read such things as "Why Go?", "When to Go", "Navigating Venice", "Best Freebies", "Fast Facts", and so on. The following page has a map of the region, showing (in this example) Venice in relation to the Verona Wine Country further inland. There is a brief history and then, from there, the book describes all of the sites, places to eat, and other attractions that a visitor might want to see.

One other reviewer said that most recent LP changes were attempts to win back some of the younger market from the internet. Personally I find a book like this much preferable to any website. The internet can be vast and complex and sometimes misleading. A guidebook like this has a manageable list of places and attractions that you can underline, highlight, mark up, and dog ear. That's just an awesome and irreplaceable thing for anyone who has ever traveled a foreign country.

Finally, a word about what kind of demographic might find this guide most useful. It is not the guide I would purchase if I was trying to backpack Italy like a gypsy. Nor is it the guidebook I would purchase if I had just won the lottery. It seems to be intended for middle class Americans. Think especially of the relatively affluent -- but not rich -- college kids that come in droves for study abroad programs. Or think of a honeymooning couple. Or think of twenty- or thirty-something professionals who have a good job and a steady income but who are still budget conscious. Those are the kind of people who will find this guide most useful. Its recommendations for food, lodging, and activities are not cheap, but they are not in champagne style, either.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dolce Vita!, March 23, 2012
This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
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For the past several years, Lonely Planet has been tinkering with its format, presumably searching for ways to make their travel books more appealing and useful to an audience which is increasingly seeking travel advice on the internet. (Including from LP's own website.)Some of the changes have been helpful, some not, and some have just taken a little getting used to. This new edition of the Italy Guide seems to have settled into the new format, discarding or tweaking the changes which haven't worked, and keeping those that did. The result is highly recommendable guide, though one that you'll still want to supplement with some online research.

Good things include a section called "If You Like" with hints on things to see based on your particular interests (modern art, beaches, gardens, etc.), a month by month guide to important festivals, and a bonus map of Rome tucked into the back. Each regional chapter includes month-by-month weather charts (which could be easier to read) a brief summary of 'why you should go', and a decent regional map. Within the chapter, sections for each city include brief but good descriptions of local attractions, and lots of practical information. City maps, which for a while had been printed in hard-to-read-shades-of-blue are now printed in multiple colors, and much easier on the eyes.
Minor disappointments include somewhat limited selections of hotels and restaurants, with, often, very unhelpful price information. (Reading that a double room costs from 60 to 400 Euros is not much help.) Again, I assume that LP figures that most travelers will search online for more detailed hotel info. But more restaurants would have been nice.
The guide includes plenty of pictures, but they are no longer on glossy paper. The whole book appears to be printed on recycled paper, making for a somewhat flimsy feel, but travel guides ARE, by nature, ephemeral, so three cheers to LP for going green. The book should hold up for any trip.
See you in Italy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay overview of Italy, but too brief in each section. Has LP lost its in-depth coverage for the sake of modernizing its style?, February 27, 2013
This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
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இ Fuzzy Wuzzy's Summary:
ѾѾѾ Somewhat recommended, with reservations and only lukewarm fuzzies.

Prior to the early 1990s, before the World Wide Web became a part of my daily life, whenever I traveled to a new foreign country, I would always purchase several travel books from a local bookstore. Some of those books had more photos and helped to serve as visual guides to the areas that I was planning to visit. But I would usually also purchase a LP travel book on that country for the in-depth coverage that LP books provided. Back then, Lonely Planet travel books were very densely packed with information, and other than including a small handful of color photos, the book was mainly text printed in a small font size, and plenty of maps throughout each chapter. Back then, Lonely Planet had a reputation for being preferred by independent travelers who entirely planned their own trips, instead of going to a travel agent or joining a tour group. So along with covering both touristy sights and off-the-beaten-path hidden secrets that were not visited by tour buses, the books covered all of logistics of traveling around the country, including cultural etiquette, personal safety, and good-to-know nuggets of wisdom accumulated by authors who were really familiar with the subtle nuances of the country. And while the Fodor's and Frommer's travel books focused more on the big chain hotels for accommodations and lodging, Lonely Planet talked about lesser-known local hotels that had more character and LP books seemed to always list youth hostels.

For years, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides and Apa Insight Guides were the two main travel guide books that offered plenty of tantalizing color photos in every one of their travel books, albeit at the expense of informative text. Perhaps because of their competing format, along with the multimedia format of Web pages, Frommer's and Fodor's then also got into the "In Full Color" competition to offer more color photography in their travel guides too.

Lonely Planet probably also felt like they had to keep up with the times, and keep up with the competition, so they took the approach of offering two series of travel books. The Lonely Planet "Discover ..." travel book series of compact travel guides are intended to provide the essential information about a country while being compact, light in weight and small in size, and replete with the heavy use of full-color photographs and maps throughout its pages.

This 960-page "Italy Travel Guide" serves as Lonely Planet's main travel book on Italy. Compared to a Lonely Planet travel book on Italy that I purchased about 15 years ago that was densely stuffed with text and maps, this one is far more stylish in its layout and its use of color and photos. But in modernizing their travel guides, I feel that Lonely Planet has traded some substance for style. As each chapter proceeds through the various areas in Italy, it rushes through the various options for sightseeing, eating, sleeping, entertainment, etc. Many listings for sightseeing, lodging, eating, and entertainment only get one or two sentences of coverage.

This travel guide is still FAR better than Lonely Planet's "Discover Italy" handbook, which is even more of a brief overview and lacking in details but has a lot of nice colorful photos in it. In this age of the Web and being able to easily search on the Internet for images about anything, I would happily trade some of the photos for more in-depth details in this book, which was what Lonely Planet was always known for. Even though my 15-year old Lonely Planet book on Italy is obviously outdated now, at the time, it was so dense with details that I felt most of my questions about traveling to Italy were answered by referring to that book. With this Italy book being reviewed, I would still want to refer to other book or online resources to get more details for a planned trip to Italy. This is not a bad travel book, but it now resembles the Italy travel books that Fodor's and Frommer's also offer... which is why I rate this book 3 stars for being more "average".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barely useful, October 29, 2012
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While formatted for easy access, the content appears to have suffered some serious compression from the paperback versions that I recall travelling with in the past. Details given for locations are pretty sketchy, a few recommended hotels, a few restaurants, and......? Where did the feel for travelling in a place go? Where did the useful tips go? The driving section (such as it was) was less than helpful. (Although I don't know if even the Italians can successfully interpret their own road speed zones; 130, 90, 70 and 90 signs all within 200 m on one Autostrade, then ?????) Anyway, I found this "guide" somewhat less than useful. Perhaps I managed to travel to areas not visited by the team, but even areas such as Milan and Florence were pretty light for content.
As is often the case, talking to locals gave a much better idea of what to see and what to do.
Perhaps the LP team didn't bother doing so in preparing their manuscript, and just listened to other traveller's bar tales and other hostel scuttlebut.
I'd have to say that some of the recommendations were at best misguided, and in some cases downright fanciful.
An easy to carry e-version of the guide, but of limited usefulness. Probably OK if you don't intend to spend any more than a day or two in any of the locations covered, but it does need to give a far better feel for the country, its people and their customs than it does if it wishes to be taken seriously.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars worthless, October 25, 2012
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This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
This book is already outdated, the maps are not correct and do not accurately depict the cities. The information is bland and is not very informative. I was always looking for more information, especially on how to get to certain places. This book is set up horribly, and is not easy to reference or use on the fly. I sorely miss the "Let's Go" series of travel books. My friend who I was traveling with had "Rick Steves" version which was hilarious, accurate and incredibly informative for every occasion we had to consult our travel guides. I would recommend Rick Steves over this any day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost and Hungry in Portofino, March 21, 2013
This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
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I am a huge fan of Lonely Planet guides and the Lonely Planet website. However, this guide really disappointed me. I consulted it before and during my recent trip to Italy and was very disappointed to discover the places mentioned in the guide were either closed or just not where they were supposed to be. My best friend and I wandered around Portofino looking for one particular restaurant that sounded good only to be told that it had been out of business for months.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lonely Planet Italy for Kindle, August 9, 2013
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I purchased this e- book as an update for my hardcopy of the previous edition. I hoped to use it on my tablet and Kindle when I am in Italy soon.
So far I am very disappointed. The great thing I have always found about Lonely Planet guides, and I have been using them from the 1980's, has been their ease of accessibility. The ability when walking through a city to say, thumb through to find the recommended restaurant to follow my gallery visit or to flick back to the city map to find out where I change on the Metro. This is impossible to do easily.
Maybe I am not using it correctly but it should be simple.
I purchased the Kindle version primarily to save weight. An extra kilo in the back pack certainly makes a difference but I will be still taking my old hard copy.
Any tips on utilising from other users would be appreciated.
My advice to prospective purchasers would be don't. Buy the hard copy instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you purchase the latest edition!, January 1, 2013
By 
Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
Italy is a country steeped in ancient culture and, for the most part, it is a combination of that culture - both ancient and modern, the countryside and the people which visitors go to see. As with any foreign country, the visitor needs a guide book - especially one which is so well written it simply exudes ideas about where to go and what to visit. This book really is the only guide you will ever need.

By comparison to other guide books, I found this one far easier to follow. It really is user friendly. Just as France is far more than Paris and the Eiffel Tower, so Italy is also far more than Rome and the Coliseum and this book will give you the broadest possible outline for each of the main towns and cities in addition to the more famous attractions.

In my own case, I am often in some seaport looking for shipwrecks. Whilst the ships themselves are not included, almost all the local facilities are there to be found.

In short; Thoroughly recommended. Just make certain you purchase the latest edition.

NM
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you can only buy a single book for all of Italy..., April 18, 2012
This review is from: Lonely Planet Italy (Paperback)
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I think it is nearly impossible to fit all of Italy in a single travel book, but if you are bent on buying only one, this is the one to get. We have spent some amount of time in Italy, and we tend to prefer the Lonely Planet guides over others. We were able to put this book through its paces just recently, and we also were able to compare it to Lonely Planet's city-specific guides as well as past experience with the LP regional guides.

My strong recommendation, if it is at all possible for your particular itinerary, is to go with the city (i.e. Rome) and regional (i.e., Tuscany) guides, even if it means taking two or three smaller books that cumulatively outweigh the single Italy book. When you are in the major cities, for example, not only is this book a bit large to carry everywhere, it simply doesn't have the kind of depth that makes it worth while to hold while you walk around. Further, once you are out of the big cities, coverage of out-of-the-way spots is similarly thin. I would prefer to have a lot of information on the dense cities, and then use a Michelin map and word-of-mouth when poking around the countryside.

That said, there is comfort in having a book that gives you a leg up where-ever you might wander. The maps are well done. The organization is clean (though LP appears to be moving some key information to the back where it is easy to miss). It is always worth while to pay close attention to the writers' advice (or, for example, you will end up waiting an hour for tickets to the Colosseum when you could have waited five minutes by purchasing at the Forum). LP's restaurant recommendations have been very useful for basic eating and for identifying promising districts for food lovers; for the latest in a city's restaurant scene, we do supplemental on-line searches before we depart.

Finally, the included map of Rome did not hold up very well. We recommend purchasing a laminated map instead (we like the Streetwise maps).

Ciao
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Lonely Planet Italy
Lonely Planet Italy by Paula Hardy (Paperback - March 1, 2012)
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