Item description for Authentic Rome (Authentic Italy) by Touring Club of Italy...
Created expressly for independent travelers looking to enhance their visit, Authentic Rome covers every inch of the Eternal City, past and present. Seasoned critics and knowledgeable locals share advice and insight on history, culture, food, wine, shopping, local markets, and festivals. A new design, with a color-coded index that quickly references all the major topics, ensures easy use, while a special section profiles customized day trips and itineraries.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.74" Width: 5.35" Height: 0.71" Weight: 0.71 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2007
Publisher Touring Club of Italy
ISBN 8836541305 ISBN13 9788836541300
Reviews - What do customers think about Authentic Rome (Authentic Italy)?
old guide re-hashed as new Dec 29, 2007
The TCI guidebooks have been known in Italy for being the definite guidebooks for traveling art historians. Their maps of localities and building structures and compounds are unmatched, showing an architect's detail rendering that is not commonly found in your common guidebook. But here lies exactly the problem: this guidebook could have been published in the 1920's, you can find clones of it by British tourism guide publishers, listing in clinical exactiness the details of every architectonical and archeological feature encountered, all for a very passive audience. Or, a yet better example, a guidebook made in the late 50s or early 60s, right after the roaring 50s in the era of the Dolce Vita, with its american actors roaming the streets of the then gilded age.
This style doesn't mesh well with today's pro-active attitudes of young tourists. They want to feel the EXPERIENCE and be an ACTIVE part of, rather than being a PASSIVE observant. Take, for example, the itineraries described in the first half of the book. They are basically a listing of gems in the art history hierarchy, and invites the tourist to follow them like a dutifull school pupil. I think this style is out of touch, and it might have worked 40 years ago, but today's tourist doesn't want to be lectured on dead objects, but would rather experience the living patterns that makes life in a city. On the latter, this guidebook makes no attempt in describing such, except for a few mentions in the ending where a few open markets are mentioned.
In the second half of the guidebook, there is a section called Itineraries and in a subsection called Walks, there is a list of suggested walks for those that want to "feel" the city following a pictoresque route. But... there are no maps ! While there are maps for the architectual itineraries listed in the first half of the book, there are none in this section. Which leads me to conclude that this edition is a re-hash of an TCI classical stale guidebook (that would be the first half in this edition), and then a second section added to address more or less the needs and interests of today's tourist. But the result is a schizophrenic composite suffering from multiple personalities.
When writing a guidebook about a tourist destination, the authors must keep an audience in mind, and never leave focus. The TCI audience has been, in the past, people that have canonically followed the traditional path of studying a locality for its artistic and historical value in the form of art and architecture, aka the permanent traces on the land by the implementation of cultural movements in the past. So, the TCI audience is really a studious group that enjoys studying the details of "dead" inanimate objects, and ignore the "live" behavioral pleasures. Take example the very hip and lively neighborhood of Trastevere, now the destination of choice for the young crowd on any evening. How does this guidebook treat it? by mentioning its churches. B-O-R-I-N-G.
Another remark on how the authors "lost" the audience when preparing this guidebook, is the translation from italian to english. First, if one is addressing a specific tourist-base, they should "speak" their language, and use language idioms that seem modern and up-to-date. A native english writer should have been employed, rather than making a translation from an existing italian text. While the text is clinically correct, it suffers from not really addressing the audience. One could almost "hear" english spoken with an italian accent when reading some of the text (case example is the Rome In Cinema section (pages 121-127). The Rick Stevens books don't lose their audience, but "speak" the audience language. There was this american student in Italy, and she used to volunteer as a guide at the Roman Forum. She described some of the things happening in the Basilica Emilia as "CNN does today". Her american tourists audience immediately "connected" with that notion, and at the end of the tour, she was generously tipped. Get a guide that "connects" with how you think. A travel trip to a foreign country is much about the experience you will have, and less about a school lecture in the style of 40 years ago.
Just like the decline of the symphonic orchestras has been attributed to the lack of music appreciation education in today's schools, one could arguably make the point that the lack of interest in today's art and architectual gems by the younger audience is in part because of the lack of art history appreciation education in today's schools. Ah, Latin is not taught in today's schools: quel horreur! So, what the Old Guard does? they publish this guidebook anyway, without really doing a realistic market research of who would be interested in this book. This book has not been "beta-tested" or reviewed by volunteers on foot patrol. The Rick Stevens guidebooks are instead very active, and very respondent to reader's feedback.
Some of the text just didn't translate well: the zoo is called Biopark. In describing a nature reserve 100 miles from the city, a taxonomical listing of some of its mammals includes the "Marsican Brown Bear" (there is no need to get into such detail...)
The full page on visiting the Peroni brewery is marred by the fact that such visits must be scheduled and arranged in advance by appointment.
On page 9, about the different types of train, no mention is made about the huge price differences in ticketing they may incurr. One could save up to 60% in choosing the "right" train.
About tourist general tips and info for pharmacies. It mentions that there is always one open on 24-hour duty within an area, but makes no attempt in describing how the visitor can find out that information.
On the archeological tour in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill: it makes no mention that the Forum is free, while the Palatine Hill has an admission fee of $7.
On page 43 there is a picture of the Casino of Villa Doria Panphilj. The picture of this location is completely out-of-context for that chapter. The text describing this location is on page 80.
Along the description of art galleries, museums, churches, buildings, there is no mention of the opening hours, times, admission fees. The reader is delegated to read the listing in the appendix, which, in practical terms, it pretty annoying and useless.
On page 76, the item 9 circle on the map is positioned too distant from Porta Settimiana, which is what the text describes for item 9.
For the surroundings of Rome, Anzio is mentioned, but again, only its churches and art history-related locations, and no mention whats-so-ever about the American Military Cemetery of Anzio, a must-do destination for the american tourist. (again, another proof of how this guidebook "lost" its audience...)
For the Appian way section, it fails to mention that on Sunday mornings and early afternoons, the road is closed to vehicular traffic to become a pedestrian and bicyclist delight. A great guide would mention where to rent bicycles for a two-hour self-guided tour. (again, most pleasure in foreign travel is about ACTIVE EXPERIENCE, not just PASSIVE assimilation).
The picture of page 151 of a spelunker with helmet and headlamp exploring the underground antiquity chambers is misleading. The average tourist will never be permitted to do that.
Just like in software, this is version 1.0, and it is buggy. Version 1.1 will have the bug fixes. But then, in my humble opinion, this edition was never "beta-tested" with a volunteer army, that, would have eagerly feedbacked with how old-fashioned its style is.
On the plusses, the maps are superb. The Tivoli and Villa Adriana maps show altitude contour lines, and a level of detail unmatched. The restaurant listing in the appendix and its ranking in quality is veritable.
And last but not least, the title: "Authentic". That is what got me interested in the first place. Every european city today is very very different from just ten years ago. There are entire neighborhoods now with mandarin chinese signs, asian vegetables sold at open market stalls, different tongues spoken, and different aromatic smells from the food vendors. Instead of being "authentic", this book is actually a traditional rendering of a city as it could have been described half a century ago.
Rome in a nutshell, essential information for your trip. Jul 24, 2007
The Touring Club of Italy is well-known for its focus on natural, cultural, culinary, and historical itineraries. This guidebook is very well written, perfect for pre-travel planning and to carry with you during your trip as well. Great for off-the-beaten path itineraries and do-it-yourself travelers. The Touring Club offers guidebooks for each region of Italy, and for those of you who don't know, that's the best way to see Italy: region by region, NOT all in one single trip! So, find out which regions you want to see first by giving these books a read and finding out which area is more ideal for your vacation.