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Italy for the Gourmet Traveler Paperback – June 3, 1996
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From Library Journal
Eating as the rationale for traveling through Italy?where food and culture are so naturally bound together?is the theme of Italophile Plotkin's latest book. His ardent admiration for the country and its cuisine is evident in his personalized tour through the nation's 22 regions, including the islands of Sicily and Sardenia. Guiding us through a land bountiful and diverse in terrain, history, and tradition, he explores each area's distinctive foods and wines. When not traveling, Plotkin lectures and writes about things Italian and has penned The Authentic Pasta Book and Opera 101. He uses his extensive knowledge to create a catalog of helpful restaurant reviews, recipes (indexed), a glossary of food terms, profiles of cities and their local histories (indexed), and anecdotes that blend into an informative, entertaining, comprehensive guide. This selection is a treat for any travel collection.?David Nudo, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In this exhaustive guide, Plotkin provides travelers to Bella Italia with information on the best places to eat in 300 cities and villages. Practical advice, such as making reservations, goes hand-in-hand with colorful descriptions of the Italian ristorante, trattoria, pizzeria, friggitoria, and other types of eating establishments. Plotkin is particularly adept at depicting the cultural climate of each region, listing appealing towns a traveler must not pass by and those area culinary specialities to be savored. Whether one desires the address of a fine butcher shop, has a hankering for pastries and an espresso, or seeks a dining experience fit for a king, these listings more than fit the bill. When seeking out excellent culinary fare, doubtless, the true gourmet will be undaunted by this weighty tome. Alice Joyce
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As to the content of the book, I really like what Fred wrote about each region and it gave me some background and context in terms of what to focus on as I travel through northern Italy. The only thing that I found a bit strange is that he described many regions as the best place for food in Italy. Shouldn't there be only one best? Aside from that, each region's specialties are described well. I also like the fact that he didn't just talk about restaurants but also cafes, markets, and other food related points of interest.
What I have been doing for planning is to use this book as a starting point, and then cross reference check about the restaurants/markets on TripAdvisor.com, Chowhound.com, and 36-hour NYT travel articles. I also checked Lonely Planets and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation show. This book served me really well giving me the background knowledge and context during planning. Now that I've bookmarked all the restaurants and markets I want to visit on TripAdvisor, I'll leave this book behind and pray that I'll remember as much background information in this book as I can when I'm in Italy.
Most of the negative reviews for this book has been about the inaccuracy of the restaurant information. I can't comment on that since I am not in Italy yet. However, I am visiting northern Italy, which the book seems to have more current infomation for. Also, the places that I am interested in visiting in the book, I've also checked tripadvisor and bookmarked them on the site. I am hoping that they are mostly accurate.
I really wish that the book had a more traveler-friendly format that I could carry with me on the road.
Depending on how long the food coma lasts after I come back from my trip, I will update my review as soon as I can. :-)
The book begins with quite a few pages on Italy and its food and culinary traditions in general. Then it's broken down by region and further by cities that the well-traveled author selects as exemplary of each region.
Each region gets a few pages of general info--whatever this talented, entertaining writer selects as being integral to understanding that region and, therefore, the food. Then he describes the culinary traditions of that region--about its wine, cheese, or specialties and what you would expect to be served for each course. Then he lists specific places to go and usually writes comments about each one. That part is not structured: he may choose to tell about the food, the proprietor, the ambience, or whatever reason he is fond of it--usually something that makes my mouth water or makes me long to possess first-hand the nostalgia he communicates. Basically I assume that if this author chooses to include a place, it's worth a visit.
As far as trip planning is concerned, I've found this to have the best intro to each region in Italy of all my travel guides. (I'm not denigrating sight-seeing guides--you might have time to do something between meals, so get one of those, too.) His few pages on each region are not overwhelming and help introduce one to its unique flavor. Once I've selected the regions to travel to, I'll trust his selections of cities and places to visit.
It's not a map-and-pretty-pictures sort of travel guide--more like a friend in the know telling you what not to miss. It's even great armchair travel.
When I'm planning to revisit Italy, I consult the pages of Fred's book that are pertinent to my itinerary, copy them to take with me, and then find myself caught up and start re-reading other sections too! I recommend it to all my friends. It's a great book to own. A terrific value for the modest price. Don't go without Fred Plotkin or a Kindle copy along, or the pertinent pages of his book to consult along the way. If you're an armchair traveler, you'll enjoy this trip! Ciao!