Book Review: The Rough Guide to Florence and the Best of Tuscany


The Rough Guide to Florence and the Best of Tuscany

If you are planning a trip to Italy, there is so much to do and see, you’ll want to bring along guidebooks specific to each region you’ll visit. The Rough Guide to Florence and the Best of Tuscany, researched and written By Jonathan Buckley and Tim Jepson, is a comprehensive guide that will thoroughly prepare you for a most memorable journey through one of Europe’s most celebrated destinations. What I enjoyed most about this guide are the in-depth overviews of the top attractions of Tuscany.

While many other guides just offer photos and short paragraphs of the sights, The Rough Guide educates you about the history and the many facets of each masterpiece you will encounter. The guide was written for travelers like me, who are curious about many facets of each destination and long to comprehend the intricate history and architectural details; knowing more in advance about what you will see on your journey makes for a much more enriching experience when you actually tour the sights. What’s more is that this guide is easy to read and is conveniently divided into numbered sections that are effortless to find.

Start your guide experience with some colorful photos including the essential 20 Things not to Miss on your visit. After reading all about the Basics you need to know, you can get right into the core of Tuscany. The first section takes you to Florence, and the first chapter is all about the infamous Piazza del Duomo, one Italy’s most impressive and extensive architectural masterpieces. The guide will take you through the exterior and the interior of the Duomo, the Campanille, the Baptisery and museums with great detail. You’ll want to walk around and refer to the guide’s maps and information as you explore every destination.

In the Tuscany section, you’ll learn all you need to know about Pisa and the Leaning Tower as well as exploring Tuscany’s vast countryside, one of the world’s most naturally alluring destinations. Reading this reminded me of the time, about 29 years ago, when I dined at a sunny rooftop restaurant in Tuscany, breathing in the cleanest air, looking out over the endless rolling hillside and thinking, “I must be dreaming, because this is too spectacular to be real.” It was rather like a Hollywood movie, and I was certain I had found paradise. I often reminisce about that unforgettable experience and long to return.

In addition to the seven chapters on Florence’s best sights, and seven chapters on Tuscany, you’ll be treated to detailed listings for both destinations of accommodations, restaurants, cultural events, shopping and even a one-page directory that will assist you quickly if you need travel or emergency assistance while there.

In the back of the book are Contexts with an excellent historical overview and a directory of artists and architects. It does a good job helping to keep you from getting confused. And if you get stumped with the language, you will find some common words to assist you while communicating with the locals.

While some guides are more like coffee table books filled with slick photos and short quips, The Rough Guide to Florence and the Best of Tuscany is more like taking an expert (human) guide along with you on your journey than a written guide book.

P.S. Be sure to set aside time to shop in the street markets of Florence outlined in Chapter 11 of the book. You’re sure to find some worthwhile treasures to bring home.





Debbie Glade/smartpoodle is the Geography Awareness Editor for Wandering Educators