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Best travel guide to take to Florence? Frommers, Fodors, Rick Steves?

Best travel guide to take to Florence? Frommers, Fodors, Rick Steves?

Aug 27th, 2007, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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"Rick Steve's is to travel wriitng what Barry Manilow is to heavy metal."


And I agree, Rick Steves is a heavy-weight! But I didn't know Barry Manilow was also a travel writer. . . ? ?
sshephard is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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Of course he is not a travel writer. He is a steel worker.
Jed is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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A Guide book writer's rules for travel:
Read at least 4 historical novels set in the places you are visiting plus 4 different guide books and then leave them all at home. Pick up the pamphlets, maps, lists in the city when you arrive. Follow your nose, remember the maps, learn the bus, metro system and know a minimum of the local language.
Visit only 2 museums, churches per day intersperse with wandering, gelati, quiet time to absorb where you are.
Only travel with a very special person (s) who you know well enough to be perfectly comfortable with.
For Rome and central Italy I suggest a visit to elegantetruria.com for background info.
vetralla is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 02:50 PM
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Someone told me about me abut the following which I did confirm while hiding in the stacks at Barnes & Noble. Steve's, in one his Europe books recommends, and is photographed, eating uneaten food at a cafeteria from other people's trays.

Add to that he has changed that shirt since 1967 and has a simplistic approach to touring and you have one handy dandy guide.

Now, I am all for saving some money as the next guy, b
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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I used a variety of books for our trip to Italy in June. Rather than carry the books around with me, I copied the pages that were of interest to me. We began our trip in Venice and worked our way down to Sorrento. I put all my pages in the travel order. I had access to a binder at school, stapling would work as well. I tore the pages out when we left each city. By the time we got to Sorrento and Capri I was carrying very few pages. It really was much easier than carrying guide books! When we went to Greece, I tore the pages out of my Frommers book, but then the book is useless. So, for me, this system worked.
fluff224 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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If it is your first trip, take Rick Steves with you. You'll accomplish more with his agenda which is well laid out.

If it is not your first trip, take the Barnes and Noble/Border's route and find the book that caters best to your interests.
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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But seriously. . .

What I like about the Rick Steves' guides is their down-to-earth style. I also like the humor.

I don't fly first class and I have yet to spend more than $150 on a room in Europe. Steves speaks to me.

I have several of the Eyewitness guides and while they are graphically appealing, I think they are confusing. And, as others have said, they are relatively heavy. Also, I tear my Steve's guides into chunks and throw the chunks away as I move through my itinerary. I would feel guilty about tearing glossy books with color photos.

A final reason I like the Steves books is that he researches them personally. He stays and eats at the places he recommends.

Eating uneaten food? Sounds like and urban myth to me. The same shirt? One of his mantras is efficient packing. I actually think he travels with 4 shirts.

By the way, an excellent book about travel writing is one I read recently entitled A Sense of Place. It consists of a series of interviews with many of the great travel writers - Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Peter Matthiessen, Arthur Frommer, among others. Oh, and Rick Steves, who, like it or not, has had a profound and positive impact on the attitude people in the US have about European travel.
sshephard is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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It is not an urban or suburban myth. I have seen it and once wrote down the page number. Next time I am in a bookstore I will report chapter and verse.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:12 PM
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like others, I recommend taking a bunch of books out of the library and seeing which ones fit your style as well as get a feel for what you will want to see. The one essential is a good map (in your book or separate) Some of the books are just to heavy to carry along but they are good for pre-trip preparation.
I got some good lodging reccs (not in Italy) once from one of Steve's books but since he is fundamentally neither a culinary or cultural tourist his recommendation and approach are useless to me. I tend to like the Michelin Green Guides for sights - they tend to have enough information and to fit smoothly in a bag. Some of the Rough Guides also have good info. I bought Blue Guides for Northern Italy on my last trip and did not think they were better than the above.
My favorite guide to this area was the tiny blue AMEX Florence and tuscany book long out of print. Comfortingly, the cultural attractions dont change much over time!
jjkbrook is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:18 PM
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The Rick Steves approach to uneaten cafeteria food was mentioned in his earlier travel guides, which is where I first read it. I do not know if his latest editions include the same suggestion.
WillTravel is online now  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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We loved the DK eyewitness book for Florence. It was so visual and easy to follow. Though the restaurant recommendations were not very good. I'd suggest getting those from others on Fodor's or any locals you might happen to meet.
lauraallais is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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I have only been a Rick Steves fan since 2004 and can say that in all of the Rick Steves books I have read since then, he seems to have abandoned his alleged earlier philosophy of eating abandoned food.

Frankly, the mention of this, and that he "wears the same shirt" has little to do with the subject the OP raised.

Instead, it sounds a little like an ad hominem attack. But I have found that on this forum, Rick Steves tends to bring out the venom and the snobbery. Why, I don't know. Perhaps it is that some see him "vulgar and stupid," to borrow a phrase from Pausanias.
sshephard is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:13 PM
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If being snobby is expecting more from a book that I purchase, then the answer is yes. Steve's is not original, insightful, witty, interesting, or edgy. He is however, known and readily available. It is a choice between a pop culture figure and one of substance. And if that makes me a snob, so be it but that does a follower a populist.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:20 PM
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My wife and I used DK Eyewitness guides for Florence when we went there in July and I like this guidebook series. I have made an Eating and drinking trip report that you can find here: http://gardkarlsen.com/eating_drinki...ence_Italy.htm . The rest of the report is not ready yet and that is why some of the links in the report will not work. But send me a mail on [email protected] and I'll let you know when the rest of the trip report is ready

http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 02:37 AM
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My apologies Auduchamp1. I didn't mean to suggest that you were a snob. I don't really even know you so how could I draw that conclusion?

I have concluded that you and I probably travel very differently and that's why its good that there are travel books that cater to our interests and needs. For example, I look to Rough Guides and Lonely Planet for advice on places to stay and eat. You say they are "poor on hotels and restaurants." To each his/her own.

As for your adjectives: "original, insightful, witty, interesting, and edgy." Rick Steves is certainly all of those things to me.

Michelin Green guides? Those were the first ones I bought years ago but I think they have no personality. But I haven't looked at one lately.

Mohawk: If you are still reading this, I hope you'be gotten good advice. In fact, it might have been helpful to us if you have described you own travel style.
sshephard is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 04:37 AM
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Yes, we are probably different travelers. We have been traveling internationally since 1972 when few travel guides were available and we used Frommer's Europe on $10 a day and actually succeeded at $15. But even now, we rarely stay at expensive places unless it is a special establishment.

Our interests are art, architecture, antiquituies, food, walks and hikes.

None of which Steve's seems to satisfy.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Gee I'd start renting movies and reading books! Rent My House in Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun (yes, again), Enchanted April, A Room With a View, Tea With Mussolini, English Patient...lots more too! And here's a link to novels set in Tuscany:

sheri_lp is offline  
Aug 29th, 2007, 02:28 AM
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Michelin Green are the "Gold" standard for sight guides. They are guidebooks, not entertainment.
Jake1 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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Thank you all for your advice. I think it shows that different people like different books. I've used Frommers for domestic stuff, but Steves in Paris and DK in Greece. I've felt the nice photos make an area more enticing, but when there, I've liked Steves for some of his descriptions and straightforward advice, ie. Rue Cler and what its got. For Italy, I'll use the suggestions provided by all the fine folks in this forum. I am most curious regarding the Michellin Guide since I don't recall perusing that before. But thanks to all. SShepard also asked what kind of traveler(s)we are. This kind: We like to see the historic things that enchanted us in movies, in school, etc. We do like the museums although living in the DC area, we surely spend plenty of time in the Smithsonian museums. In our travels, we like to spend a good part of the day doing what most tourists do, but we also like to blend in a enjoy the food, the cafes, the locals and tinkering with the foreign language, and the area in general. To me, a large part of the charm of Europe is the language barrier. I enjoy learning some of the language trying tp communicate with it (my wife doesn't though). My fondest memory of say Paris, is not a trip to the Louvre, but a walk along the Seine, crossing those cool bridges, checking out the street scenes, the incredible architecture and history assiciated with it, and spending a slow hour or so at a terrific cafe enjoying some house wine from St. Emilion. We may return to our hotel to catch our breath, then head back out and take a boat ride. We seek the anti-stress trip to Europe. We may miss some stuff, but in the end, so what. We'll be back.
Mohawk is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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I don't think any travel book is 'edgy', unless Charles Bukowski wrote one and I don't know about it. Rick Steves is very informative and worth it, just stay away from his restaurant recommendation, he has no taste buds.

rmeyer is offline  

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