Exploring Italy (1996)
AbeBooks Seller Since August 14, 2015Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since August 14, 2015Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: Exploring Italy (1996)
Publication Date: 1996
Edition: 2nd Upd.
About this title
· A lively, graphic, full-color guidebook to Italy's major cities and the beautiful countryside.
· Color photography and archival and other illustrations throughout; zingy captions.
· Intelligent, opinionated writing by Tim Jepson.
· Solid travel reportage on every region punctuated by lively sidebars on Italy's history, opera, the Turin Shroud, Venetian art, and more.
· What to see and do, plus recommended walking and driving tours through Rome, Venice, and the Roman countryside.
· Special rating system identifying not-to-be-missed sights.
· To-the-point reviews of dining and lodging.
· Key planning information.
· Over 20 detailed maps and plans.
· Comprehensive destination/topic index.
This excerpt, from the "Italy Is..." section of Fodor's Exploring Italy, gives the traveler insight
into different facets of life in Italy today.
Everybody has a picture of the typical Italian: philandering Latin lover; son-smothering "mamma";
pasta-bloated patriarch; louche Mafia Godfather; black-clad widow; deranged driver; sensuous sex siren
(a la Sophia Loren). Picking national stereotypes is always a dangerous game, but in Italy it is
especially fraught with pitfalls. The country was unified only 135 years ago, having been divided for
centuries, a historical legacy that has produced countless regional variations of character. For every
Italian who conforms to a stereotype, there is another who proves the exception to the rule.
Region by Region
The cool arrogance of the Florentines, for example, is at odds with the fierce honor of the
Sicilians; the mild-mannered Venetians are a world away from the more abrasive Romans; and the
dignified reserve of the Piedmontese contrasts with the mannered efficiency of the Milanese. Italians
stand by their regions, proclaiming themselves Tuscans first and foremost, or Sicilians, Sardinians,
Umbrians, Calabrians... Others are divided from compatriots by language and cultural tradition (German
in the Alto Adige, Slovene in Friuli, French in Piedmont, Greek and Albanian in Sicily and Calabria).
Despite these contrasts we instinctively recognize Italians, not only from the way they look
(fashion is a common denominator in Italy) but also from their outlook on life, whether a pragmatic
aptitude for survival -- born of constant political upheavals and foreign invasions -- or a natural
spontaneity and sensual self-indulgence in anything from food and friends to family and soccer. We
admire their apparent free spirit while lamenting their occasional inefficiency -- and wonder why,
when most nations have something to teach, Italians seem to have much more.
Food and Wine
A culinary voyage around Italy is a pleasant surprise. There are many specialties unique to each
region -- and even if you stick to the classics, pizza or spaghetti bolognese taste better in their
places of origin.
The appearance of a restaurant has little to do with the quality of food offered. Ristorante,
osteria, and trattoria are now fairly interchangeable terms; a tavola calda or pizzeria is more humble
(though the food can still be excellent). Nowhere do you have to wade through the entire menu (la
lista) -- Italians themselves often stick to a plate of pasta and salad; nor should you overlook bars
and markets as sources of cheap snacks. Avoid fixed-price tourist menus -- always a false economy.
More expensive hotels may offer you the breakfast (prima colazione) you eat at home, but Italians
tend to start the day with sweet croissants (una brioche or un cornetto) and coffee (espresso or
cappuccino and caffé latte). In Sicily or German-speaking Alto Adige, breakfast might include
wine, salami, and grilled cheeses.
Lunch (pranzo) is no longer the extended and overblown occasion of days gone by. Save the big meal
until evening and stick to something light -- a picnic or bar snack with rolls (panini) and sandwiches
(tramezzini). In bars, pay first for what you want at the cash register (cassa) and take your receipt
(lo scontrino) to the counter, where a L200 tip slapped on the bar works wonders with the staff.
Full-scale meals start with antipasto (an hors d'oeuvre), followed by the primo piatto (first
course), which may be soup, pasta, or rice, and then by the main meat or fish dish (the secondo).
Vegetables (contorni) or salad (insalata) follow separately and the meal is rounded off with cheese
(formaggio), fruit (frutta), and/or a dessert (dolce).
Washing it Down
Italy produces more wine than any other country. The D.O.C. classification system is no real
indicator of quality; ask instead for local wines (vini locali) or house wines (vini della casa), and
treat yourself to more famous varieties in the appropriate regions -- notably Piedmont (Barolo and
Barbaresco) and Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello, or Vino Nobile). Happily, standards are rising among small,
independent producers (notably in Umbria, Trentino-Alto Adige, and the Veneto).
Try firewaters like grappa at least once, as well as aperitifs (Cinzano, Campari, and Cynar) and
liqueurs like amaro (a bitter digestif), amaretto (a sweet almond-based drink), and the aniseed-flavored
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