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City Secrets: Rome Hardcover – January 1, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Rome, Padua & Assisi is a useful pilgrimage guide for the Jubilee Year 2000 and would serve as a good starting point for mapping out city tours. It offers a helpful historical and cultural background to each of the three cities (the most thorough is the chapter on Rome that runs well over 60 pages). As the authors discuss each city, they not only point out the sites of particular interest to visitors but also provide a list of hotels and eateries, an inventory of Jubilee 2000 events for each city, and a survivor's guide for getting around. In addition, the authors suggest other Italian destinations worth visiting. Although the descriptions of city sites are not adequately detailed, they are well ordered and clearly presented. In City Secrets: Rome, a number of architects, artists, writers, archaeologists, and historians at the prestigious American Academy in Rome write of their favorite spots in the city. Reading this book is like attending a reception at the academy and listening to academy residents offer glowing accounts of some of Rome's many treasures. Although rather small in size, it could serve as a delightful vade-mecum for tourists in Rome and provide them with an artful insight into Rome's familiar or not-so-familiar attractions. Both guides are recommended for libraries with some demand for travel books.
-David I. Fulton, Our Lady of Victories Church, Baptistown, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


New York architect Robert Kahn knows everybody, so when Gwyneth Paltrow asked him what she should see in Rome (while she was there filming The Talented Mr. Ripley), he collected travel tips from his artist, writer, and historian friends. Realizing that "everybody should have access to these invaluable opinions," Kahn, a onetime resident of the Italian Capitol, decided to publish City Secrets: Rome, a collection of tips, comments, and mini-essays, mainly about art and architecture, whose 200-plus contributors include restaurateur Danny Meyer, painter Frank Stella, architect Michael Graves, and playwright John Guare. His favorite secret? "A Clerical Shopping Spree," by art historian R.J.W. Cro (page 105), which describes the store where Kahn likes to stock up on the distinctive fuchsia sock favored by Catholic cardinals. The elegant, pocket-size book, published by the Little Bookroom, goes on sale in March. Next up? City Secrets: New York. -- New York Magazine

Now when you travel to Rome to marvel at all of the recently restored monuments, artworks and architecture, you can follow the recommendations of some of the world's preeminent artists, historians and architects. City Secrets; Rome (The Little Bookroom) is a new, compact and sophisticated guidebook filled with eloquent musings by people with a passion for the Eternal City - including architect Richard Meier, playwright John Guare and restaurateur Danny Meyer. Whether you visit the Galleria Borghese, the Pantheon, Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, St. Peter's or the Sistine Chapel, you'll see Rome's glorious sites from very compelling-and different-perspectives. In March 2001, a City Secrets: New York City guide (with opinions from enthusiastic writers) will be available, followed by Paris and London editions. -- Town & Country

When in Rome, do as Danny Meyer, John Guare and Richard Meier do. With the notion that the discerning traveler wants the inside dope, Robert Kahn, a New York architect, canvassed poets, chefs, architects and others for their favorite haunts in "City Secrets Rome" (Little Bookroom). Mr. Meyer, the chef at Union Square Cafe, recommends La Taverna da Giovanni, a family trattoria near the Castel Sant'Angelo; Mr. Guare, the playwright, points the way to a relic, St. Thomas's finger at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and Mr. Meier, the architect, is awed by Borromini's all-white star-shaped interiors for Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza. This idiosyncratic guide helps jaded visitors see the Eternal City anew. -- The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: The Little Bookroom; 1st edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892145049
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892145048
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful travel guide, full of interesting insights (e.g. visit the Capitoline piazza at night; sprint through the maze of the Vatican museums to the Sistine chapel to enjoy a crowd-free half-hour there) and great restaurant suggestions with helpful comments on each one. In fact, you can buy the guide for the restaurants alone and not be disappointed. Each is described in detail with suggested dishes and pithy comments, and each is marked on the map. Marking restaurants on the street map is not usually done in travel guides, but is so helpful, because as you find yourself in a particular neighborhood yearning for a good meal you can simply turn to the page and locate a number of nearby eateries. This avoids the awkward and time-consuming ordeal of locating restaurants by street address. I fully concur with editor Kahn's priorities in mentioning the touristy Spanish Steps in a few lines, but spending six insightful pages on the stunning Borghese art gallery.
This is not a stand-alone guide, as it lacks information on hotels and other important travel information (transportation, embassies, currencies, etc.), but it is a brilliant and useful tool for those who already have a standard guide book and would like a bit more, or for those who are already familiar with Rome.
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Format: Hardcover
Before journeying to Rome in March, my best friend and I were lucky enough to pick up City Secrets: Rome. We quickly found that there was no need to carry around our other hefty guidebooks, because the wacky, erudite scholars who provided commentary for City Secrets gave us the insider's look at all of the monuments and museums, as well as fabulous restaurant and shopping recommendations. Although the book lacks entries on certain places that the first-time tourist might wish to see (well, the Trevi Fountain is mentioned, but with great disdain), it includes off-the-beaten-track splendors like Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza and culinary delights like Gelateria San Crispino ("the best gelato in Rome") and Vecchia Roma ("the best meal of your life"). The contributors have seen Rome from every angle and fill the pages with colorful commentary ("Seeing a white column of snow drifting down the middle of the Pantheon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.") The only criticism is that the maps of each section of the city, while incredibly detailed,do not link up to one another, so it's often hard to figure out how to get from one spot in the Campo Dei Fiori to another north of the Pantheon. That said, "the little red book" was indispensable. We're looking forward to the rest of the series.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a small, wonderful book that is a pleasure to recommend to both the novice and experienced traveler. This is not a book for anyone in need of a step-by-step itinerary planner. Rather, this book provides a series of suggested angles and perspectives from which this magnificient city can be experienced and enjoyed. By way of City Secrets Rome, my wife and I found Vecchia Roma and enjoyed one of the great restaurant experiences of our lives. At La Taverna da Giovanni, I mentioned Danny Meyer's name and received personal greetings from the chef/owner and his mother and was gifted with a platter of fantastic green olives. Capitoline Hill is spectacular anytime, but perhaps especially at night. I could keep going. The beauty of this book is that it encourages one to step outside the tyranny of the "must see" approach and explore. I hope similar approaches for other cities are forthcoming.
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Format: Hardcover
A good guide book, such as the Eyewitness guide, is essential for unbiased information. This is its perfect complement. It offers the personal opinions of many different people from different fields; authors, architects, gourmets etc. - which makes for interesting reading in itself. You don't have to agree with them!
Rome is divided into 11 sectors, for easy reference. Clearly marked maps are included for easy navigation. There are little details to look out for and tips about local custom as well as recommended strolls, views and pilgrimages, and places to eat and drink and shop. We would have missed highly enjoyable experiences, such as eating in Volpetti's, Tasso D'oro coffee but for this book. Helpfully, the book is small and compact - easy to tuck into a pocket or bag. It has pages for your own notes so that you can add your own opinions and favourites (or notes of good toilets!) and make this a truly personal record, which becomes full of your own memories.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd actually rate this book as 3 1/2 stars. As other reviewers have noted, the book isn't a typical stand-alone guidebook. We traveled to Rome in November 2004 and used this book as a companion to more a more standard guidebook. The book is very nice quality, attractive, and small. The various authors, which include several notable scholars, provided unique insight that helped us find some cool and overlooked places and also pointed our some particular things about places that we wouldn't have otherwise noticed.

Since the book doesn't appear to be regularly updated, I would say it is much more useful for the insights regarding architectural/cultural aspects, such as the forum or the many public squares, but less valuable as a guide to eateries or shopping areas that are more likely to change. Some of the recommended restaurants and stores were not at the listed address.

Also, one of the writers recommended arriving early and rushing through the Vatican museum so that you can arrive at the Sistine Chapel before the crowds and view it in relative solitude. We did this, but be aware that the museum is arranged as a rather long one-way tour and the Sistine Chapel is near the end. We followed the advice and rushed through to the Sistine Chapel, thinking we would go back and revisit the other sites, but the museum is so large that we didn't have time or feel like going back through it all again. By rushing through, I think we missed a lot.
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