The Collected Traveler: Central Italy

January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Alright, so this might be crossing the line.  Who reads guide books in their spare time?!

Let me explain.

Me exploring Umbria without a guide book (and doing very well)

Me exploring Umbria without a guide book (and doing very well)

I am not one for ‘tourism’ in the sense of flying to a city, taking a taxi to a hotel, and then proceeding to spend the entire stay trying to be as comfortable as possible  That’s not the point of traveling for me.  To travel is to learn, to try new things, to step outside of your comfort zone.  To visit a place is to talk to locals, and eat different foods, and learn new words, and not follow routes on maps.

Thus, when I say that I thoroughly admire this ‘guide book’, give me a chance.  As the author says, “The Collected Traveler editions are not guidebooks in the traditional sense.  In another sense, however, they may be considered guidebooks in the sense that they are books that guide readers to other sources.”

Barrie Kerper has been collecting articles, newspaper clippings, essays, and interviews for many, many years.  This is her compilation.  And while the prices/phone numbers/availabilities are surely out-of-date (the book was published in 2000), it is still a useful tool for dipping one’s toes into Tuscany and Umbria.  And not in the main puddles, either.

Here is the breakdown of contents:

  • La Cronaca Mondana: Probably my favorite section, as there are several wonderful essays about how and why people fall in love with Italy, including my favorite, “My Italy” by Erica Jong.
  • La Cucina Italiana: From coffee to Montpulciano wine, from bruschetta to olive oil.  History, descriptions, recommendations, and facts.
  • Firenze:  A collection of essays and quotes about Florence.  The city of language, art, and tourists.  And a lot of little, hidden treasures.  A couple of articles particularly appreciated by art historians.  Then further divided into plazzas, gardens, the florentine cuisine, notable people (lovely article on Benigni!), and monuments.
  • La Toscana: A few memoirs of little cities in the Tuscan countryside that have made people ooh and ahh.
  • L’Umbria:  Food, places, and historical essays of this beautiful region of Italy.
  • Practical information and personal favorites

Whether you’re inspired by Under the Tuscan Sun and want to read more about the world as described by Mayes, would like to get a little introduction on Italy, or have already established a fetish with this country and want to find out some interesting facts, this books will help you out.  Great compilation of written compositions for all aspects of Italian life.

The Collected Traveler

It isn’t necessarily the great and famous beauty spots we fall in love with.  As with people, so with places:  Love is unforeseen, and we can all find ourselves affectionately attached to the minor and the less obvious.

“Side Roads of Tuscany”, Muriel Sparks

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