The Rough Guide to Italy Paperback – Apr 4 2011
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The Rough Guide To Italy. Handy detailed guide to Italy from Genoa to Sicily and all points in between The Sunday Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Big mistake. I've been in Rome for a week and the Rough Guide has let me down again and again. I keep getting lost because their directions are dreadful! For example, I wanted to see the Capuchin cemetery (p. 651). The site received a mere two-sentence description, and there was NO ADDRESS LISTED. Honest! The directions were "A little way up Via Veneto on the right. . . " and it took me 45 minutes and asking for directions twice to find the place. That's because none of the three maps of Rome provided in the book labeled the street Via Veneto! And once I found it, it's a long street on a steep hill, and I had to keep walking up and down the hill (in 90+ degree heat) to find it. If this were the only such incident, I'd shrug it off, but things like that keep happening when I try to depend on this book. The maps are terrible--so many streets aren't labeled with names, and it's tough because in Italy you can't always find a street sign, so it's always a crapshoot whether the street signs you manage to glimpse will show up on the page, and vice versa. There has got to be a better guide to a city this well-traveled.
I purchased this book in Italy and paid an enormous markup--it cost me over $33. And I still might throw it away and get something different because it's making my trip way too complicated and not providing nearly enough useful content. It is not helping me understand what I see. And it's actually making it harder for me to enjoy the city, not easier. And if it's this bad for Rome, I can't imagine how bad it'll be for smaller cities.
I bought the Rick Steves guide on Kindle, but it's hard to use a Kindle while traveling. It's so far superior to this volume, though, that I may suck it up and buy it in hard copy too because the Rough Guide is just barely better than nothing at all. Take a hard look at this book before you buy it--if your time in Italy is limited, you probably don't want to spend it wandering around in circles because you've got bad maps. And even if it does eventually get you to your destination, it falls short in explaining the significance of so many of these places. If you look around, I'm sure you can find something better than this book--I wish I had.
The Rough Guide including this one on Italy does its job. I used to really like the Rough Guides because they were opinionated and used to be quite good at pointing out negative as well as positive aspects rather then being bland like Lonely Planet guides. I find this is no longer the case and in general prefer Lonely Planet Guides.
Unlike other guides rough guides are honest. They tell you if a place is a miserable hole instead of hyping it up in order to sell the guide. With some other guides you might arrive at a place not unlike a garbage pit. You look around and notice the only other people there are tourists who have read the same guide. Everyone is using four letter words in reference to their guide. Also restaurant/hotel recommendations are reliable. Plus the guide makes for a good read. Its sometimes non-politically correct commentaries are hilarious.
I've tried all the guides. The competition is not worth considering as they are almost always outdated or so limited to one set itinerary. Fodor's = way too expensive for what you get: hotels, restaurants for rich American tourists. Let's Go = hohum, many establishments do not still exist and if they do you'll be disappointed! (Best pizza in Parma = inedible) Lonely Planet = inspiring photos but lacking substance. Rick Steve's = ridiculous inaccurate hand-drawn maps and the one proscribed itinerary to visit an entire country.
Go Rough Guide. No regrets.
Recently I've purchased just the electronic formats of: Italy, Morocco, France. Instead of lugging around a book you have everything you need on your little android, i-thingee, tablet, etc. One warning (and a note to the publisher): the maps should have been scanned at a higher resolution as on the electronic version they are a bit blurry. In defense of the publisher this is noted in the beginning of each guide. Still the technology is there such that these maps could have been impeccable within the electronic format.
Additional tip: if you are driving in Europe consider bringing a GPS with European maps. You can program in the hotel address and then select the nearest parking place where you can leave your car and hoof it from there. Stress-free and encourages people to enjoy their vacation instead of having fistfights.
This book will help you decide where is best to spend your vacation in Italy. There are clear critical descriptions of all the regions and great general info on getting around in Italy.
If you aren't interested in "roughing" it and staying in lower priced hotels. The guides are still very useful in rating attractions, and areas in which to stay... but you will need another book to look at more moderate and luxury hotels.