Ideal guide book -Italy

Aug 25th, 2003, 10:08 AM
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Ideal guide book -Italy

If you had to choose ONLY 1 travel guide book for your first visit to Italy, which one would you consider the best?

Our travel plans include Rome, Sorrento and Amalfi. Thanks for your help.
bryarsmom is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:25 AM
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Sometimes you will find yourself wandering through little neighborhoods not knowing anything about a particular building or monument. So, I happen to like the Eyewitness guide books because they have photos from which you can identify various sites.

We found this guide very helpful on a few of our trips, the last ones being Paris and Florence/Tuscany. We enjoyed their recommended driving tours and walking tours as well.

For Rome, we also bought a National Geographic laminated map which was very helpful.

Have fun planning.
Lorac1127 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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I like Rick Steves for overall general info.
JandaO is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:34 AM
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for Rome I used Fodors, and also the Michelin Green Guide because I'm a nut for art and architectural details.

I like Eyewitness for pretrip planning and post trip memories, but I don't like them while on the trip. I find them heavy to carry and not organized in a way that I find user-friendly.
elaine is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:38 AM
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I think there are good "reading" guidebooks and good "bringing" guidebooks. Fodors and Frommers, as well as Steves and others are good for reading before the trip. Lots of info about hotel choices in addition to attractions. By the time you leave for your trip, the hotel info is not necessary anymore (unless you're planning to "wing it.") I like Eyewitness as a "bringing" book as it walks you thru the sites in an easy, visual manner. I also like Lonely Planet and Lets Go (for budget minded travel) as a "bringing book" for good practical info on getting from point A to point B, where laudromats are, etc. If you're looking to carry only one book, do what I do, take them all out from the library and sneak to your office photocopier!
Nutella is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:39 AM
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LOL Elaine. I guess sometimes "great minds DON'T think alike" ; )
Nutella is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:41 AM
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We used Fodors, Frommers, and Eyewitness when we visited Italy. I find Fodors and Frommers very good for planning our trip before we go, and Eyewitness much more useful while on the trip.
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:43 AM
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I agree with Janda and elaine. Thought Rick Steves was outstanding and that Eyewitness was good BEFORE I left. Found Eyewitness very heavy and offered little once I was already in a town.
eschule is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 10:48 AM
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We're going in October and on past trips I've found that getting the "Biggies" out of the library and copying the best parts of each to take along. Rick Steves has great walking tours in his city guides, but barely mentions the Amalfi Coast in his general book. Lets Go is good for the Amalfi Coast. That way you can just pitch the info when you're done to lighten your load.
swalter518 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 11:12 AM
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Great tips-I'm heading to the library. Makes sense to pitch my copies later.

Reminds me of another post re: packing wisely. Several people suggested pitching your underwear as you change each day!
bryarsmom is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 11:17 AM
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Here's another Rick Steve's fan. I bought many guidebooks for planning our recent trip to Florence and Venice, but found out of the 2 I brought for each city, I mainly used the Rick Steve's guides during our stay.

I also think that the "best" guide differs for each person. I tend to buy books according to not only the info they have, but also the way they are laid out. I find that browsing the book store and thumbing thru many help me to pick the ones I like the best.
Statia is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 11:17 AM
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You'll get a zillion different responses on this. But it's really a matter of preference. Generally, I will choose a Cadogan guide first and foremost. It has the most information, both practical and historical, of any out there, and often with a tongue in cheek wit. I use Rick Steves and Fodors or Frommers in planning, but if I take only one with me, it's Cadogan. Eyewitness are too hefty and not well organized for me. I'd rather have better organized info than pictures to show me what I'm standing in front of!
amyb is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 11:23 AM
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I agree with Amy B and some others that Eyewitness is great eye candy for when you're planning your trip, but once you're there it's a lot of glossy pictures you don't need. I think the Green Guide is best if you really want a lot of historical and specific information on what you're seeing. Unfortunately, it's like on suggestions like cafes and restaurants (presumably by the time you're there you have your hotel). But as everyone knows, it's hard to find a bad place to eat in many parts of Italy. Another suggestion, don't limit yourself to one... Copy pages from the towns you'll go to out of guides you'll leave at home so you can take the best of all of them with you. Good luck!
BLN is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 11:34 AM
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I don't think it can be done! At least not for me. The only thing I've ever picked ONE of is my husband!!! (And he's been around for a long time.)

Guidebooks come in multiples for me. The Irreverent Guide to Rome by Frommer's for plain speaking, the Blue Guide for the Amalfi Coast for its info on walking, the DK guides for those gorgeous photos and drawings...thank goodness for the library and generous friends to feather my file of Italy facts & figures.

I will tell you my favorite, though. It's an exquisite volume called "City Secrets." It deals with Rome, and it's a collection of small essays and comments by many people--architects, historians, writers, artists--who each love Rome, and each for different reasons. This small book takes you on a trip through Rome, seen through some very special eyes. It is a marvelous treasure of a book. The best thing is that it also gives the practical aspect of all the sights. Maps, opening hours, etc. So it's both introspective as a guidebook, and nuts and bolts practical.
Aug 25th, 2003, 03:16 PM
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I took three guide books to Italy when we went for our honeymoon several years ago (Rome, Venice, Amalfi coast) - Eyewitness (which is so fun to read before you leave), Lonely Planet (for the cheap stuff), and Cadogan's. I thought Cadogan's was by far the most helpful. Eventually, I stopped looking at the others. (Eyewitness also has nice maps, but if you get a separate map, the book becomes obsolete.)

Two years ago, we went to Tuscany and Umbria and again brought along a couple of books. Plus our traveling companions brought a couple of their own. But again, we all found ourselves turning to Cadogan's when we had a question.

We are going back to Rome and Umbria this year (well, actually in TWO DAYS - wahoo), and only taking the Cadogan's. That way I have more room in my bag for truffles to bring home!
txtree is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 06:27 PM
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Italy for Dummies - we used it almost exclusively last summer.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 06:38 PM
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Since no one's mentioned it, I'll put in a plug for the Rough Guide for Tuscany and Umbria. Lots of fascinating information I didn't find elsewhere, and it was the one we carried around.

Also, the Travelers Tales series are wonderful for before and after trip reading. Background, different perspectives, other-than-tourist activities.

I use my public library also. By checking out a bunch of guidebooks on an area, I find out which ones I like enough to purchase.
Marilyn is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 07:17 PM
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ditto for the library and xeroxing...books can really weigh you down!!! read all you can beforehand too! one year i missed a lot in pompeii because i did not turn the page in a fodor's or frommer's book! never again!!!
wondering is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 07:40 PM
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In general, for any European country, I start out with Cadogan and the Rough Guide. Also have used the French "Blue" Hachette Guides along with the Green Michelin Guides.

While still at home, I thumb through Rick Steves, Frommers, Fodors, Let's Go.

On occasion, I may use the DK guides and, very raarely, the Insight Guides.

No one guide does it all for me. Cadogan and Rough Guide come close.

Wish I could carry them all along on the trip!
jason888 is offline  

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