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Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler    edited by Barrie Kerper Amazon.com order for
Tuscany and Umbria
by Barrie Kerper
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2010 (2010)
Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Oh, how I wish I had had this wonderful travel guide when I spent a month in Tuscany. We put a lot of miles on our rental car, but I now realize how much I missed. And this terrific book also includes Umbria, which I didn't see at all but now wonder why I didn't. Does this mean another trip? Maybe so.

What most travelers want is a good phrase book, instructions on how to use public phones, information on topics including locations of public restrooms, how to handle the money, where to get dry cleaning done, and how to buy a bus ticket. Also most important is where to get the best food. And lodging. And I found the word 'Scuzi' (Excuse me) the most useful word in the mellifluous Italian language.

Essays from many well-known writers also grace these pages with wonderful tips for using your all too-short time in these wondrous hill towns. Authors include Frances Mayes (have you read her books on just this subject? If not, do so before you go), Sallie Tisdale, Erica Jong, Lorraine Alexander - oh, for heaven's sake, find out for yourself. You can't go wrong with all the info in Tuscany and Umbria.

This charming travel guide does a lot more than helping the traveler with tips for surviving. It takes the reader to Florence to gaze at the famous Duomo - the existence of whose magnificent dome baffles many, let alone its standing for these many years. Gaze in awe at the statue of David. Or stride the halls of the Uffizi filled with works by the masters. The guide takes you from town to town, hoping that you will stop along the way to enjoy the countryside, soak up the local culture, and meet the wonderful people. I swear they are glad to see you and will make you feel welcome.

Tuscany and Umbria extols the virtues of the charming hill towns, while suggesting where to eat, what to eat where, what to drink with your choices, as well as anecdotal essays of some of the experiences the authors had as strangers in another country. There are also suggestions for additional reading to become better acquainted with your host country. Persian poet Sa'di said that 'a traveler without knowledge is a bird without wings.' Good thought.

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