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Ever since backpacking around the Greek Islands as a student, Duncan has been fascinated by the Mediterranean and its apparently idyllic lifestyle. In an attempt to live it himself, he gave up a stuttering career in corporate journalism and moved to southern Italy in 1997. Two years later he transferred north to Rome, where he lives with his Italian wife and two young kids. These days Duncan spends much of his time running up and down the Italian peninsula, writing for Lonely Planet, but he's still drawn to the south, and heads to the Ionian Coast every summer to test the beaches and enjoy the superb Puglian food.
ROME by Garwood and Hole is a 367-page guidebook from the LONELY PLANET series. The book is printed on dull paper, not glossy paper. There are plenty of decent-sized photographs, most of them 1/3 page size. The rear cover contains a multi-colored fold-out map (gray, green, red, purple, blue, black). The map shows Rome's downtown area, and one can easily detect sites of interest, such as the star-shaped grounds of CASTEL SANT ANGELO, PIAZZA NAVONA, PANTHEON, CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS, COLOSSEUM, BASILICA DEI SANTI APOSTOLI, and SPANISH STEPS. The map shows the location of many piazzas, chiesas (Italian for church), basilicas, and museos. The flip side of the map shows metro lines that lead from the suburbs to central Rome.
The guidebook has nine chapters (pages 56-218): (1) Ancient Rome; (2) CENTRO STORICO; (3) TRIDENTE, TREVI & QUIRINALE; (4) MONTI, ESQUILINO, & SAN LORENZO; (5) SAN GIOVANNI to TESTACCIO; (6) Southern Rome; (7) TRASTEVERE & GIANICOLO; (8) Vatican City; and (9) VILLA BORHESE & Northern Rome. Rather than jump immediately into detailed topics, this guidebook gently introduces the reader to the subject of Rome by way of several introductory sections (pages 1-55), with titles such as, Rome's Top 13; What's New; Need to Know; Top Itineraries; If You Like; Month By Month; With Kids; Eating; Drinking and Night Life; Entertainment; and Shopping.
A small map on page 3 provides a "big picture" of the organization of Rome, and we learn that the districts of Rome are called, CENTRO STORICA (the subject of the large fold-out map); Vatican City; Villa Borghese and northern Rome; Tridente; Ancient Rome; Monti; San Giovanni; and Southern Rome.Read more ›
I have used Lonely Planets guide books for almost 20 years in three continents; this is the first time I feel the book is not worth the purchase cost. Since Roma (Rome) is a city I have visited in the past, I was looking for hints and tips to less-visited places. After all this guide is supposed to be written by someone who actually lives in the city. Alas, the volume is very skimpy in the discussion of the history and art of the monuments, to the point of lacking even what I would consider some basic info. The sight are grouped by areas, in haphazard order, so that one has to keep flipping back-and-forth through the pages to find the description of what he is seeing. The book index is poorly organized, and cross-references are few and far between. No pre-defined walking routes are mapped or suggested. The included city map is alphabetized atrociously; instead of being organized by the relevant noun, it takes the geographical identifier as the starting point for the index. So, for example, "via del Gianicolo" is found in the 'V' part of the index, and "passeggiata di Gianicolo" in the 'P' part, instead of both being next to each other in the 'G' part as "Gianicolo, via del" and "Gianicolo, passeggiata di". By comparison the free maps distributed by the local tourist office are an example of clarity and usefulness. This was the first time I purchased a second guide (the Rick Steve's one, which is better but still not outstanding) and intentionally left this book in the hotel room, to avoid bringing it back with me. I would reccomend this guide only to someone who thinks that the essential parts of travelling is sampling the local nightlife and shopping the high fashion district.
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No regrets on choosing this little gem. I only wish for more time in Rome!
Roma IS an amaaaazing city. You MUST see it.
And this is a good little guide. Things I really LIKE about it: 1) Handy portable size,small enough for a bag or to tote-along with you, but large enough to cram in lots of information and some pictures. 2) Though it doesn't really have a LOT of pictures (I wish for more), it does seem to have at least one good shot of most all of the big stuff (Rome is so FULL, it's really not possible for a small guide to photograph EVERYTHING). 3) The "What's new" section. 4) Handy details, like...where are the "loos" in relation to the Colleseum. 5) On a short trip? There are helpful suggestions like "Rome's Top 13" and a suggested three hour itenerary for the highlight's of the Vatican. 6) Got more time? Infomation on day escusions outside the side. 7) Month by month festival suggestions. 8) Clear tear out maps. Plenty of maps.
And...why it lost a star: 1.) I did want more pics. 2.) Wish it was a little more at-first-glance usable. Took a little more getting-to-know, but it was inviting.*** (This is the main reason for the lost star.) 3.) Wished for a few more short-trip maximize-you-time suggestions (like #5 above). 4.) Kind of wanted glossier pages.
Good stuff. It's not *perfect* but I recommend. And I would definately buy another Loney Planet Book.
PRINT SIZE: Not a criticism here. It HAS to be smallish to cram enough into this small book, but if you've graduated to reading glasses: Yes, you will need them for this.
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