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on 13 July 2010
Several years ago, my preparation for any trip abroad would always include an hour or so spent comparing guidebooks. My comparisons became more cursory after I realised that I always ended up with the Lonely Planet; usually it was the excellent town maps that gave LP the edge.

After seeing this offering, I will go back to looking more closely.

I did my preliminary trip planning with an older version, so I was excited to see that an updated version was available. But I was disappointed to find that, far from being a more comprehensive guide, large chunks of information have been cut.

Whole towns and villages are now deemed unworthy of mention; in their place we are offered driving tours and a more spaced out layout with cutesy subtitles for each section (e.g. 'Central Market - stock up on artichokes, asparagus and atmosphere'). Where a town has been retained, its map may not have been. And at least one of the maps that have remained has dropped outlying areas (and their accommodation options). Accommodation options have been mostly moved to a directory at the back of the book, strangely arranged alphabetically by establishment name within subregions, with no grouping by town. Some may prefer this, but it does make it more difficult, while browsing the text, to get an idea about which of the smaller towns has suitable accommodation (however you may define 'suitable'!).

I am left with the impression that the target market for this book is car-based tourists with plenty of money to spend on restaurants and shopping. While much useful information on how to get between places by public transport has been retained, details of towns where a public transport user may spend time waiting for a connection have not. So, for example, we lose Chiusi - a jumping off point from the Milan-Florence-Rome rail line, with some Etruscan remains and a new hostel - and Colle di Val d'Elsa, departure point for buses to Volterra and itself a crystal-making town with a historic centre.

All that said, there is plenty of practical and background information here, written in a style that is engaging without trying to be alienatingly hip. If this is your first trip to the area, or you are travelling by car, or are mainly interested in food and/or the better-known destinations, this book may well meet your needs. If you're planning a walking or cycling tour with less flexibility about the distances you can cover, or are heading for somewhere off the beaten track, or just want more details on the smaller towns you may pass through, you might like to look at a previous edition. The previous editions also feature more of the quirky 'boxed text' anecdotes.

If you've read this far you'll have gathered that for me the new layout does not justify the sacrificed information, but some may find it easier on the eye. You can compare the old and new with Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature - use 'Search Inside This Book' for a place that interests you to see a sample of the destination pages. 'Look Inside' also includes the indices - so before you buy you can at least check which towns are covered in the area you're planning to visit.

Buon Viaggio!
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on 25 September 2011
We have used the two previous Lonely Planet Guides for this region and found them to be invaluable; however, this guide - the sixth edition - is not even close in quality.

Firstly, the layout is somewhat different; it almost seems like the font has been made bigger to disguise the fact that there is less information.

Towns and villages in previous editions are nowhere to be found, despite still having something to offer to the visitor. During our most recent visit, we would look up a town in the index only to be directed to a page where it is mentioned in connection to a hotel or a driving tour with no other information, or not mentioned at all. Even a few sentences to give the reader some idea would be more beneficial than leaving it out all together.

These books are usually really useful for pointing you in the direction of good restaurants or places off the beaten track, but it really let us down this time. For example, we had the misfortune of experiencing a 'gastronomical highlight' in San Gimignano which is currently listed LAST on Trip Advisor out of around 50 restaurants in the area with over 40 negative reviews, yet it is still recommended in this book.

To be fair, the book may be useful to someone who has never bought Lonely Planet before, but as someone who has had the pleasure of using the fourth and fifth editions, I cannot recommend it at all. If the fifth edition is still available, go for that one and risk the possibility of some of the information being out of date (i.e. prices for attractions).
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on 16 May 2011
I like the Lonely Planet guides but this one was disappointing. We went for the Tuscany and Umbria guide rather than a general Italy guide thinking it would contain a little detail about practically everywhere in Tuscany. However, there were several places we visited (perfectly nice places too) that were not even mentioned! A small paragraph would have been better than nothing. I didn't particularly like the layout either, or the maps.

All in all, I decided after several days of being weighed down by it that i would be better off without it and didn't really use it again for the rest of the holiday.
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on 19 November 2010
I have numerous Lonely Planet books and always found them very helpful. By mistake (I already had an older copy) I bought this new edition - what a disaster. Hideous colour, cluttered layout, most useful information missing. I don't understand what they were thinking about when they produced this. I won't buy any more if this is the new format (which it evidently is) as it just doesn't work.....
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on 2 September 2010
I bought this a couple of months ago before my holiday to Italy. I found it to be a very informative and comprehensive guide. I am sure as the previous reviewer has mentioned that there are some towns missed out but I did not find this a problem as all the main places of interest were included. Tuscany and Umbria is a huge area of italy covering both Cities and large rural areas and therefore it would be almost impossible to include everything. Information that is included is up to date and accurate and the whole book was a good source of valuable insights and history. I cannot think of any negatives and I am sure you won't be disappointed if you buy this book.
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on 16 July 2014
Pretty much useless and clearly a copy/paste of other LP books. The clearest sign of how little care went into making this book is the fact that the chapter on Firenze still had an "around Firenze" section describing cities such as Sienna, that were already covered elsewhere in the book in sections of their own. A friend of mine had a french "Routard" guide (which I usually don't like) that was infinitelly more helpfull for deciding which villages to visit, what and where to eat, etc.
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on 18 August 2010
Lots of hints and tips to read about in this book. A nice history section at the back too to fill and long train or car journeys. A nice size for your pocket too - if you have expedition shorts like I did!!
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on 23 October 2012
Sad to say, this book was hardly used during and following our recent visit to Umbria. We much preferred the excellent 'Umbria', from DK Eyewitness Travel, also purchased from Amazon.
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on 31 May 2014
extremely interesting guide book ; it is very well documented and precise ; I wish lonely planet tried harder to find cheap hotels and restaurants.
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on 1 February 2012
Very good and usefull. Many necessary informations are icluded in this travel guide.
It helps your need for guidance in all ranges.
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