Steps back into ancient Rome on a visit to the Forum and Colosseum • takes a boat ride on Lake Como and a walk through the rolling Tuscan hills • soaks up the sun along the Italian Riviera and sinks into the romance of Venice • marvels at the masterpieces in the Uffizi and takes in an opera at La Scala • dines on fine cuisine in Italy’s gastronomic capital Bologna and enjoys la dolce vita in a trattoria under the stars in Umbria
Excerpt: Turin, City of Magic
Perhaps you’ve guessed by now: Turin isn’t all that it seems. According to those in the know, it stands at the vortex of two mystical triangles: a black magic triangle (Turin, London and San Francisco) and a white magic one (Turin, Prague and Lyon). Around the city, 230 sculpted figures are said to represent aspects of the energy flowing out of this unique geometry. Not a few of these are gruesome masks designed to ward away evil; there's one for every window of the Royal Palace.
Most Torinesi know that the gate of the Royal Palace, guarded since 1846 by the benign underworld deities Castor and Pollux is the most magical spot in the city, where good vibrations flow. Underneath the Giardini Reali’s Triton fountain, they say, lies Emanuele Filiberto's alchemy cave, where the Iron Head sought the philosopher’s stone. ...click here to read the rest
A perfect little guide for middle-aged tourists like me, /5
I've been a fan of Facaros and Pauls ever since buying their Tuscany guide nearly 20 years ago. For most of the world I'd get Lonely Planet automatically, but where these two have been, they win for me. They always give you a lively account of the local history and food, and the same goes for the places. Random example: "Portovenere is Italy's champion kitty city, and the best thing to do is join the cats for a wander up through its narrow lanes and steep vaulted stairs". They know their stuff on the practical side too - giving you fair warning about pre-validating your train tickets for example (a classic tourist's mistake - I've made it!). And they can tell you gently that a place might be missable - "Domodossola, best known these days as the largest town in Italy beginning with the letter D" seems to tell you something.
The maps, photos, hotel and resturant lists are all there too, properly done.
You don't get a huge amount of book for your money - if you're visiting this region as part of a trip to Italy, the Lonely Planet Italy guide (similar price, c. 900 pp) is probably a better buy. But as something to tuck into your rucksack with phrase book and map for a short holiday on the Riviera coast, this is ideal.
Witty and opnionated in the best possible way, /5
Cadogan Guides are generally terrific and Italian Riviera & Piedmont is no exception. While these books have loads of basic background information on history and culture as well as insider dope on special places to see, places to eat and places to avoid, they have fewer photos than some other guides. Even without the illustrations, they are superior to the competition in most important ways.
The authors are well-informed and dont shrink from calling a spade a spade or tourist trap a tourist trap. Weve been using these guides for years and find them absolutely essential for travel in Italy and France.
Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls can be reached at: email@example.com