D.H. LAWRENCE AND ITALY is composed of three stories: 'Twilight in Italy', 'Sea and Sardinia' and 'Etruscan Places'. The first two "books" seem to be based on journals he wrote while traveling with his German born lover then wife Frieda, whom he refers to as q-b for queen bee, through various villages on the mainland of Italy and the island of Sardinia. Lawrence does not record his experience of "famous" sights in these two books, in fact he says he is not interested in historical places, museums etc. but rather he wishes to see the people and the places in the out-of-the way areas of Italy. He and Frieda travel by bus, train, and boat--close to the ground.
Those who have read Lawrence's fiction will recognize his writing. He describes what he encounters with a visceral language--people, clothing, food, establishments. Some of the places are stunning and some so filthy you wonder how he could have stayed overnight. He visits lemon and olive groves and various high places along the coast and in the interior valleys. His writing is graphic--the reader will be as appalled and enchanted. He reflects Italy just before and after WWI.
In the third book, 'Etruscan Places', Lawrence describes his visits to various Etruscan sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia. His writing is less descriptive than that of the first two books. He is concerned with nothing less than the meaing of life, and the conflict between religion and truth (he died a few short years later at age 44 so his reflections seem almost prescient). He muses that societies are organized around death or life. He speaks of the use of fertility symbols such as fish and lambs for Christians and dolphins and eggs for Etruscans; the significance of the color vermillion -- male body painting by warrior classes where red paint connotes power contrasted with the the red skin coloring of the Etruscan tomb portraits which seems to have connoted the blood of life. He says the Etuscans loved life and the Romans who subdued them loved power.
Lawrence's book provides good background for those who would know more about Italy. Many of the places he describes have changed since the 1920s--some for the better. The people have changed--their clothing, homes, etc. are less unique and colorful, but they are better fed, warmer in winter, and cleaner. Hopefully their lives are better, but I don't think Lawrence would agree.