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One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Italy (101 Beautiful Small Towns) Hardcover – October 29, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paolo Lazzarin is a journalist and photographer living and working in Milan. He has contributed to numerous Italian and international newspapers and has coauthored several books on photography, tourism, and sports.
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Product Details

  • Series: 101 Beautiful Small Towns
  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (October 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847826376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847826377
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 1.2 x 10.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
ONE HUNDRED AND ONE BEAUTIFUL SMALL TOWNS OF ITALY is a lavishly illustrated insider's look at the Italy as known to Italians. Writer Paolo Lazzarin took on this project of focusing on the secret treasures within Italy and wrote it for Italians. Now Rizzoli has released it internationally and all of us who love this most romantic of countries are the richer for this guidebook.

Lazzarin has divided his book into the multiple regions of Italy from the north to the south and shows us all the hidden small towns that are in the regions of the famous cities such as Venice, Milan, Florence, Siena, and Rome. He is careful to acknowledge the influence of these cities we all know, but at the same time he graces each of the 101 towns with descriptions of the land the architecture, the artisans, the foods, and the special places that provide a strong magnet to the reader.

Many of the towns names are familiar, but only because the names appear on cheeses, wines, olive oil, and trinkets! Yet in this book the towns of Spoleto, San Gimignano, Arezzo, Gallipoli, Portofino, Gubbio, Ischia, Modena, Aosta and all the others come to life in warm prose and breathtaking photography.

This special book is illuminating as a resource guide for the next voyage to Italia; it also is one of the more beautiful gift books for treasured friends and loved ones on the market today! Grady Harp, November 2004.
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Format: Hardcover
By Bill Marsano. An old Italian pastime is the compiling of lists of the 'cento citta'--the hundred most appealing Italian cities and towns. Candidates should be small enough for intimacy but big enough to afford urban pleasures. They needn't be sunk in wilderness but countryside should certainly be at hand. Agreeable climate? Another plus. The lists are always highly personal and endlessly debatable, and here's Paolo Lazzarin, journalist and photographer, with his own nominations. He outdoes tradition by selecting 101 towns, all, per the subtitle, beautiful and small.

And all in all, he does a pretty good job; certainly this book will help the Italy-lorn struggle through a long winter of discontent with being too far from the Blessed Peninsula. And, as Jane Austen wrote, or should have, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that staring at pictures of Italy never did a body any harm." The photos are the principal part and appeal of the book; this is not a survey course ("Italy: From the Etruscans to Berlusconi"). There is an abundance of them but I could wish more were better and/or better chosen.

Some do not illustrate, others do not evoke, and still others are well-worn tourist-office images. For example, here you'll get no hint of what Riva del Garda actually looks like, and still less of Faenza, which is represented only by its famous ceramics. In San Remo, must we see the casino--again? The entry for Valenza has an extended caption about a nature reserve sitting beside a large and ordinary shot of a palazzo's interior staircase.

As for the writing, the best I can say is that it avoids the customary excesses; Italians are too often overwhelmed by patrimony and resort to cheerleading in prose form. On the other hand, Lazzarin is mechanical, unspired.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Note this detail in the publisher's description: "now in a popular pocket-size format." Its trim size is just 8.25"-by-8.25", a perfect square. (Small, though hardly pocket-size.) If you plan to tuck the book in your suitcase, this is the version to buy. But if you'd prefer a taller, more sumptuous version, ideal for your coffee table, with the same photos 25% larger, you might prefer the second-listed version, published in 2004, with a trim size of 10.25"-by-12.5". This heftier version resembles two other big coffee-table picture books on Italy that are even more mouth-watering: "The Most Beautiful Villages of Tuscany" by Bentley & Palmer, and "The Most Beautiful Country Towns of Italy" by Bentley and Ramsay.

Because Milan journalist/photographer Paolo Lazzarin covers so many towns here, his treatment of them is necessarily brief. Typically, for each one he offers a page of text and, opposite, a handsome photograph of one of the town's highlights. Some towns, like Siena, enjoy two additional pages of photos. The book is probably most useful to readers planning a first or second trip to Italy. It serves up a scattering of charming towns that are extra-extra-special for one reason or another (not just for their beauty). Some of them, like the magical hill town San Gimignano, might later prove a highlight of one's entire trip, ranking right up there with Florence or Venice. At the front of the book is a map showing the 20 regions of Italy, making it easier to visualize a proposed itinerary, and at the back, an appendix lists, by region, lots of useful addresses & phone numbers--of recommended hotels, restaurants, tourist information offices, and shops.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The text is to the point, bringing uniqueness of each place, its rich history, traditions and fairs. Not every town will appeal to everyone. Where one sees nothing, the other sees a treasure.

Nevertheless, the amount of the given information is appropriate for this kind of book. This is not a research book with all the details. For me the true gem of this book, are the foods and fairs listed at a lot of those places.

For example, Aosta almost at the crossroads with France and Switzerland often is being discovered by accident. I happened to be there this past summer and one raises a question why it’s not so touristy with such historical heritage. I found the answer in this book – this remote Alpine town is not easy to find. In the ancient times it was strategically located to watch for the enemy coming from the Alps. Today such strategic location proves to be hard to find. I didn’t know that Aosta had Sant’Orso Fair until I read it in this book. However, the book states that originally it was during the last two days of January and nowadays it’s on August 15. The official website of Aosta states that it is still during the last two days of January.

For most of the places, the pictures show the true spirit of the city. For example Alba, the city of truffles, shows it clearly with its market selling truffles. However, for example, the picture of a street in Merano doesn’t show the true spirit of the town and I know it, because I’ve been there myself. The town is known for its healing resorts and vineyards rolling down right into the town.

I was very surprised to see Verona in this book, which is not a small town. Bolzano is not a small town neither, but has so much more charm being nestled in the Alps with vineyards extending to the town.
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