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Lonely Planet Florence

Published on August 17, 2010 3:27 PM | Comments

I somehow managed to forget mentioning Lonely Planet when I last wrote about Florence guide books - of course, their books are routinely very good to excellent and a great choice for most places in the world! I used my Shanghai guide exclusively this summer and it was priceless - would have been completely lost without it!

Florence Guide Books

Published on July 24, 2010 9:57 AM | Comments

Despite the popularity of travel information on the web and people's use of it - plenty of folks still want or need a guide book. Some of them (to me) are indispensable as they provide a depth of knowledge you would have to spend forever searching for online all in one place. And to be fair to book authors, a lot of the stuff you find on travel websites is recycled garbage. Not that many travel books are pretty useless too - I especially don't care for the corporate type titles (Fodor's, Frommer's) that all basically have the same info, much of it stale, and a very middle of the road slant on everything.

That being said - here a few guide books to Florence, with my comments:

Blue Guide to Florence

The Blue Guide to Florence is my favorite book for this city. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, as it is not a set of instructions on how to arrive, where to eat, what line to stand in, etc. It is much more of a historical reference that details the art and architecture of Florence. I wish this book was more popular - I do see it from time to time, but no where near as much as the next couple of titles.

Rick Steves' Florence & Tuscany 2010

Consistently ranked as the top guide (by sales) to Florence and Tuscany, Rick's book is extremely useful and practical. With popularity fueled by his TV program, the Rick Steve's "effect" can quickly swamp hotels and restaurants however and turn them into tourist only places - which depending on your outlook may be okay. For me, the brevity of information about the art, history, architecture, etc. of Florence is just too superficial, but this book is chock full of real world travel tips, and the specific instructions can be especially helpful for the first time visitor to Florence. You see copied of this in tourists hand every day in Florence.

Florence and Tuscany (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

The Eyewitness Guide to Florence is another popular book which is sort of in the middle of the Blue Guide and Rick Steves. Not quite the depth of the Blue Guide, but many more photos and illustrations, and not quite the practical side of the Rick Steves book. It is good for a walk around the city and will point out all the important sites with enough facts so that you'll know what you are looking at!

What's your favorite Florence travel guide? Leave a comment and let us know!


Published on June 19, 2008 4:45 PM | Comments

McRae Books is pleased to invite you to the presentation of Lisa McGarry's new book: THE PIAZZAS OF FLORENCE to be held in the bookstore at 6.30 pm on WEDNESDAY 25th JUNE. Come and enjoy a glass of wine and a selection of antipasto.

McRae Books
Via Dei Neri 32/R
50122 Firenze
tel 055.2382456
[email protected]

Children's Story Hour

Published on March 1, 2007 4:09 PM | Comments

1The Paperback Exchange will be hosting a children's story hour on the first and third Saturdays of every month - the first Saturday will be appropriate for 4-6 year olds, while the third Saturday will be for 6-8 year olds. The story hours are from 10 to 11am and will be free. I'm unsure whether a reservation will be recommended, so for more information you can call 055-293460.

The events are in collaboration with FITC (Florence International Theatre Company) Creative Campus. Study abroad students will read to the children in English - with a focus on " vocabulary building, comprehension... and fun!". The first reading, on March 3rd for 4-6 year olds, will be The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The second book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, will be read to 6-8 year olds on March 17th.

The Paperback Exchange's last children's event was a great success, so we expect this one to be lots of fun too.


The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization

Published on February 16, 2007 9:53 AM | Comments

The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization is a fantastic new book that argues against the developing conventional wisdom that Rome didn't actually "fall" but was assimilated into a newer "late antiquity". With great detail and exacting archaeological evidence the author makes his case in a highly readable and entertaining way (I actually read a lot of this out loud to my kids at bedtime without complaints). The second half of the book, "The End of Civilization" is particularly convincing as it details the disappearance of what was common and everyday in Roman times (good pottery, the written word, tiles roofs, coins, etc.). Most of these items nearly vanish from much of the empire, not to be seen again in some places for centuries. A remarkable work of scholarship, whether you agree with the author's premise or not. I highly recommend this book if you can find one - mine was a Christmas present and it was a used copy from Amazon.

Heat by Bill Buford

Published on January 19, 2007 9:49 AM | Comments

A real food adventure - Bill Buford is some kind of food masochist - and he puts himself through a lot of abuse (physical and mental) to write this book. The chapters in Italy and some of the tales about Dario Cecchini are surreal. Laugh out loud funny in parts, always entertaining - Italian food lovers and those curious about commercial (I am not going to say professional for a reason) cooking should really enjoy this.

The Uffizi Gallery and The Pitti Palace

Published on December 13, 2006 10:35 PM | Comments

I just was made aware of this new set of books "The Uffizi Gallery Museum and The Pitti Palace Collections Boxed Set" - looks like they would make the Florence art lover a great Christmas gift:

Uffizibook "This boxed set features two books showcasing two of the world's most prestigious museums: the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi Gallery. Situated across the Arno River from Florence’s busy city center, the 15th-century Palazzo Pitti contains the palace's splendid collections ranging from early masters like Giotto and Duccio to contemporary Italian artists. Aside from the palace's major paintings in the Palatine Gallery, its sculptures, decorative objects, and the magnificent Boboli Gardens are beautifully photographed. Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, on which construction began in 1560, houses such masterpieces as Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, as well as works by Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rubens. Connected to the Pitti Palace by a corridor designed by Vasari that crosses the Arno River, the Uffizi Gallery is a one-of-a-kind museum. This gorgeous oversize book showcases the extraordinary collection..."

Café Life Florence

Published on May 25, 2006 12:59 PM | Comments

Here is a book that is about a year old, but I just became aware of. I haven't read it yet - but it looks interesting. This is what Amazon has to say about it: "Like its older sibling Café Life Rome, author Joe Wolff and photographer Roger Paperno's new book profiles family-owned cafes, bars, and gelaterias, this time in the glorious and historic city of Florence. Reap the rewards of their exhaustive research into the fine espressos and artisanal gelatos to be found in the city that is the heart of Tuscany, one of the world's great regions of gustatory pleasure."

Anglo-American Bookshop: Paperback Exchange

Published on May 19, 2006 3:27 PM | Comments

PapexThe Paperback Exchange is our favorite English-language bookstore in Florence. It's a great place to browse for new and used books of any sort - from architecture to literature to travel. They also have a small, but interesting kids book section. The used books are offered at a deap discount, while the new books I would say are just about market price. You can also exchange your used books for cash or credit - perfect if you're travelling and don't want to carry already-read books to your next destination.

They recently moved to a new location right near the Duomo at #4 (red) Via delle Oche. Their website has a nice map of their location, plus hours, phone numbers, photos and more.

Italian Wines 2006

Published on April 19, 2006 11:30 AM | Comments

ItalianwinesYesterday I got my copy of the Italian wine bible, better known as "Italian Wine 2006" by Gambero Rosso. This is the first English language version of this now famous tome featuring their "Tre Bicchieri" or "3 Glasses" system of scoring wines. This is a huge, thick book (912 pages!) with tons of information on more than 2,000 producers (background info, website addresses, phone #'s, etc.) and over 15,000 Italian wines. It is also a very nicely done translation that reads beautifully in English. A must for Italian wine lovers, restaurateurs, and sommeliers - you can get yours here - I highly recommend it.

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