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Frommer's Florence, Tuscany & Umbria (Frommer's Color Complete) Paperback – 13 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 8th Edition edition (13 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118074661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118074664
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 799,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Hundreds of photos Free pocket map inside,plus easy–to–read maps throughout Exact prices, directions, opening hours,and other practical information Candid reviews of hotels and restaurants,plus sights, shopping, and nightlife Itineraries, walking tours, and trip–planning ideas Insider tips from local expert authors Find news, deals, apps, expert advice,and travel forums at

About the Author

Donald Strachan (chapters 1 and 4–8) is a London–based writer and journalist. He has written about Italian travel for publications including the Sunday Telegraph , Independent on Sunday , Sydney Morning Herald , and Guardian , and is the author of Frommer’s Florence & Tuscany Day by Day and coauthor of Tuscany & Umbria With Your Family . Stephen Keeling (chapters 1–3 and 9–12) grew up in England, lived briefly in Latvia, and spent 12 years as a financial journalist in Asia. Despite attempts to kick his gelato addiction, he has been to Italy many times—an incomparable knowledge of Tuscan Chinese restaurants formed while chaperoning a group of Vietnamese officials in 1994. Stephen is the coauthor of the award–winning Tuscany & Umbria with Your Family and currently lives in New York City.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Frommers Guides leave all the others trailing in their wake. Frommers really do search out writers who really do know the areas covered. I've used Frommers around the US, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, China, and they're worth every penny. You will never have a bad restaurant or a poor hotel if you go by their system and read the book or chapters carefully. The best feature is that they give you little known insights to a place, or recommend a special place off the main streets. Here's an example, in the Tuscany book they guide you to a place for fabulous ice cream by advising you precisely where the little alley way is, and for a particular piece of art by a famous artist, it tells you not only the church it is in, but where to find the light switch behind a curtain so you can see it better. The New York book is the best of all in my opinion, and their Walks in New York is unsurpassed by any other book I've ever picked up. Buy one in advance of your trip, do your homework, read it, highlight the pages you're interested in, and it is the equivalent in value of having a free high quality restaurant meal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike & Jacquie Lamont on 25 Jan. 2013
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This guide is easy to use and split up by area in a visitor friendly way. Recommendations are clear and easy to follow and the pocket map is handy to refer to when using the guide to plan excursions.
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By Paul on 23 April 2015
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Great read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is the book you should take on your next trip to Tuscany... 29 Mar. 2013
By APC Reviews - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have been to Tuscany and northern Italy several times in recent years, and have been fortunate to have enjoyed extended stays where I could really get out and about and put a travel book to the test. On my last trip, I took along "Frommer's Florence, Tuscany and Umbria", and was very pleased with it.

It has been said that a travel guide isn't really useful until you have already been to the destination and so know what the content in the guide is really about. It's tough to read a guidebook at home, about a culture or country you have not been to before, and not have your eyes glaze over with facts and figures and histories that may not be meaningful for you until you are there, or you have been there, for context. I had previously visited and already knew many of the places and details in Tuscany and Umbria. But I found the Frommer's Guide to be both concise, helpful, reasonable in its recommendations and well organized. Most of all it was balanced, and I agreed with its content and descriptions of many things that I already felt I knew, and I was pointed towards new things that I had passed by or not known about despite earlier visits. It genuinely enriched my trip.

Of course, when you are talking about classic destinations like Tuscany, or Provence, or Paris or London and so forth, all guidebooks are pretty much recycling the same points of interest and history. You could probably take a guide book from the 19th century and have much the same basic core information about monuments, art and architecture. The evolution in guidebooks has been about presentation, greatly enhanced by new means of laying out and illustrating books, about the personal, modern readers seem to want a much more intimate and personal account of what might lay ahead, and about the depth of recommendations for restaurants and hotels which have exploded in number and variety.

First, I never look to travel guidebooks for recommendations on restaurants, other than to know that there may indeed be one at this and that street or square. Restaurants are notoriously subjective experiences. A tradition minded reviewer may love a restaurant or cafe because it has classic regional food, well done, but a visitor may feel it's boring tourist fare and nothing could make it worthwhile. Some reviewers may like spicy food, but don't describe food as such, and a tender tongued visitor recoils in horror at the tastes. A reviewer may try to go foodie and be adventurous, the visitor may feel they have been duped into something bizarre, over rated and over priced. And so on and so forth. A great restaurant with a good chef last year may have changed owners and have a mediocre chef this year. Many of the complaints, sometimes vociferous, that you read on-line about ALL travel guidebooks come down to the visitor's feeling about the reliability of the restaurant reviews. All that said, I have found the Frommer's food reviews and restaurant lists to be generally reliable pointers to a good meal. But that's all any guidebook can do when it comes to a restaurant recommendation, point.

As for maps, the Frommer's Guide has the maps you need for the region and for key towns. The maps are clear and well labeled and of great use in planning your day and program. But it would be foolish to go to a new and complex destination with just the maps in a guidebook, any guidebook, or to hope that you could find a good map after arrival. I would recommend the Streetwise Florence map in particular.

The list of festivals is especially helpful, and are a good start on following up with a search for info about specific events from on-line sources. To search for it you first have to know it exists, so the Frommer's Guide is both a useful tool for actually going to the festivals and for starting to find out more about them.

Food, wine, art, architecture, museum, shopping, hill town, markets and history info is all concise, is fair minded without too much hyperbole, and is well laid out in attractive pages that read easily. The writing is not, I am happy to say, afflicted with the sort of cheeky Brit speak and word play that seems so tedious and childish in so much recent British travel writing.

Mind you, I said the guide was "concise". Tuscany and Umbria are wide ranging and complex subjects. I am sure that some may find fault that some point, inclination or perspective may have been omitted. But as a solid guide to take on your trip to Italy this guide can't be beat, and I say that after years of Rough Guides, Lonely Planets, Fodor's etc.

Frommer's books are, generally speaking, to this traveler and reviewer, clearly better than the superficially beautiful Eyewitness guide books that manage to be both very light on real info while weighing a ton due to the heavy glossy paper used and the amount of square footage per page given over to images and graphics.

Is "Frommer's Florence, Tuscany and Umbria" perfect? What is? It is after all what a small group of expert humans thought worth saying and presenting to a very wide and varied audience of demanding and sometimes anxious readers looking for info about something that they have not seen or experienced before while being anxious and pressed for time, usually, while visiting the destination.

But I think it's a great guide book, especially as I could compare its merits with what I knew to be the facts on the ground from past trips. I plan to have it with me again on my next trip, and would suggest the same for you. RECOMMENDED.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Armchair 5 Jun. 2012
By Stephen T. Hopkins - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Travelers to Italy who like to do armchair planning from a book with great photos and crisp advice should consider Frommer's Florence, Tuscany & Umbria. The itineraries are worth considering, and the extra tips can be useful. This book is too heavy to haul on a trip for on location refernce, and I didn't see that an ebook version is available which would serve that purpose. The tear out map is a resource that might be worth packing. One of the challenges of an Italy vacation for those who like to settle in for a while is deciding where to set up a base, and what day trips can be scheduled from that base location. Frommer's provides lots of ideas on how to do this, and how to incorporate side trips effectively.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Other then the exclusion of The Marches, a great guide 10 Jun. 2012
By J. Fuchs - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Frommer's does regional guides really well and this is no exception, with recommendations that are better than most.

Chapter 1: BESTS. Most unforgettable experiences, most charming hill towns, best art work, etc. I've been to much of Tuscany and Umbria and, for once, I agree with the editors' recommendations.

Chapter 2: OVERVIEW. Includes discussions of history, art, architecture, food and culture and helpful hints on when to go.

Chapter 3: SUGGESTED ITINERARIES. Has itineraries for Tuscany in one week, Tuscany & Umbria in two weeks, and suggestions for families and wine lovers. Would have liked to see a specific itinerary for art and architecture lovers and maybe some others, e.g., agriturismo.

Chapters 4-11: FLORENCE AND REGIONAL BREAKDOWNS. Each section contains an overview, essentials on getting around, contact information for bus and tour operators, and visitor information and recommendations on where to stay and eat as well as things to see. The star ratings are excellent. For instance this is the first guide I've seen that considers Gubbio (in Umbria) a three-star destination, which it most assuredly is. There are helpful tips on how to avoid museum lines and just enough history to whet one's appetite. This book doesn't waste time with a lot of useless sidebars; the extra sections are on major topics such as sampling the wine of the region, Siena's Palio, etc. and are informative.

Chapter 12: PLANNING YOUR TRIP. all the information you'd expect: how to get around, tips on accommodations, health, phones, etc. There is no space wasted with a dictionary that no one ever uses, although there is a brief and helpful listing of food terms near the front of the book.

Except for the surprising omission of the region known as the Marches, which borders Umbria and is often included with guides on Tuscany & Umbria, this is a really useful guide, covering both well-known highlights and lesser known gems. If you are going to this region, considering adding a destination or two in the Marches if you want to get away from the usual tourist crowds. Urbino is a particular gem and not far from Gubbio.

This guide is highly recommended for anyone whose trip will be largely spent in these two regions of Italy, as it contains a great deal more info than a general guide to Italy.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Good Basic Guide to Tuscany 28 May 2012
By Grey Wolffe - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Travel is not, for me, what it was forty years ago when I went to Europe with a Frommer's 'Europe on $5 a day'. Though that $5 is more like $25 today, it would be impossible to travel at that rate anymore. Travel has gotten a lot more sophisticated and businesslike in the last forty years, and most places you would like to visit, so would everybody else. First of all, a lot more people travel. Whereas Europeans (except for the rich) usually spent their summers traveling in their own countries, today people travel all over the EU using the trains and highways (most built in the last 30 years). When I was there in the '70s, a car was just becoming common place, and European traveled hundreds of miles on vacation. (They still can't fathom that many Americans spend an hour commuting and in California two hours isn't that unusual.)

For Europe, the biggest change is the number of Japanese, Chinese and other Asians who now flock to see the 'Old World'. Tuscany (Firenze, Pisa and Ligorno) are some of the most popular spots because of the preserved medieval cities and their world famous museums. The coast is famous for its' beaches and inland for the 'wine country'. Asians, like Europeans, like to travel in crowds. It's not unusual to see buses disgorge two or three hundred visitors at a time (they travel in caravans) and just take over an area. You see a sea of umbrellas as tour guides lead their little bands from place to place. They tend to totally take over an area and if it's something you've dreamed about seeing, you can forget getting a clean picture of anything. Because of their culture, they tend to congregate and only move when told to, so it can be like working your way through a train platform crowd at rush hour.

So, why the above. You need a guide like this to help you prepare, or you will be very disappointed by your trip. You need help in when NOT to go (May through September), and when the weather is still nice enough to view what you want to see. In Italy, you will find that sites are closed for Holidays that you've never heard of (like the 'return of the goats from winter/summer grazing') when everything will be closed for days and the streets absolutely packed.

For example: Florence (Firenza) is a small city, the central part around the Pitti Palace and the Arno River (the famous Ponto Vecchio crossing) are so crowded you can't even take a picture. In August, most of the locals have gone to the sea or the mountains and the best local shops and restaurants are closed, only the tourist places stay open. June and July can be hot and steamy and the pollution can be so thick that the air looks blue. You'll most likely be miserable and wished you'ld gone to Disney World.

So read this book (or the Lonely Planet Guide) and be careful to read between the lines as to what's good and what's in-authentic. Pick a time to go and take the very good maps provided with you when you go out. One last thing, go to the local area websites (on Google they will translate those in Italian though they sometimes read like they were translated by eight year olds), they will give you the best information.

Zeb Kantrowitz
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Detailed and informative guide to a lovely corner of Italy 7 Jun. 2012
By Gary K. McCormick - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The regions of Italy which are covered in "Frommer's Florence, Tuscany & Umbria" are some of the most popular destinations in the entire country, and this detailed and descriptive guide will help you make the most of your visit. Great pointers to off-the-beaten-path destinations guide you to sights you might otherwise have missed, and the writers who contributed to the volume let you know what to expect and how they feel about the subject! Weighty, like the "Frommer's Italy 2012" which I also used for a recent trip, and somewhat fine print, but a valuable companion for a visit to this lovely corner of Italia.
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