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4.4 out of 5 stars
DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide: Florence & Tuscany
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The world of travel guidebooks has changed greatly in the last ten or so years. When I started travelling, I would go for the comprehensive close print of Lonely Planet or Rough Guide to plan my trip and see me round. Now, however, I plan using the internet and am more likely to use a phone app when on the move. So a paper guidebook needs to offer something extra to still be relevant, and for me these Eyewitness Guides have cornered the market.

The books are easily portable and robust, with good quality paper pages and durable covers. The layout is easy to use and the wealth of colour photos make them a pleasure to browse through casually, but also good to find details in quickly when out and about. I find the choice of photographs much better than that in some other guidebooks - they tend to show the things you want to see i.e. the buildings and sights you are looking for, rather than 'local colour' type pictures which might make nice pictures but aren't much practical use. The photos are fully integrated into the text rather than being only in a 'photos' section as in many books.

The top 10 style may not be the most comprehensive, but for the majority of tourists with limited time, or supplementing a guided trip, they cover everything you're going to need. And if you have extra or special interests, chances are you've already looked up what you need on the net ahead of time. It can be a real help if planning a trip with limited time, to select the 'best bits'. I found it covered everything I could want to do and more. For Florence I found the 'top 10s' within the galleries particularly useful, as faced with these vast museums and knowing little about art, all I wanted was to see a selection and make sure I didn't miss anything particularly good or famous.

This guide covers not just Florence but the other major cities/towns and the countryside itself, including Sienna, Pisa, Lucca, Chianti, San Gimignano, Cortona, and the Southern Coast. There are specific top tens for each of the major sights, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo complexes in Florence and Sienna, the Pitti Palace, and the Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa. The maps are very easy to read and use, although I rely more on smart phone maps these days, it is good to have a paper back up in case of technology failure, and for some of the smaller towns where app maps tend not to be so good.

Over the years, Eyewitness have also improved their practical information. They now include more helpful tips (although not enough to do full trip planning based on this book alone) but around things that you need prompting to know on the ground. The information on public transport and arriving by train is better than in older editions of the guides and includes helpful info like where to find the left luggage office. The only real gap is a basic phrasebook. This didn't bother me as this is another area where my phone has taken over, but a page of the absolute basics would still be useful.

I would highly recommend this to travellers going to the region, whether on a guided trip or self-planned. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I wouldn't personally even consider taking any other brand of guide for a holiday to a region where there's an Eyewitness Guide available.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2014
I love DK's Top 10 travel guides! I have several already and since I've discovered them some 7-8 years ago I have been only buying their releases for all my trips. However, this particular version for Florence and Tuscany is very poorly assembled together with specific details combined in strange ways which made this book very difficult to use. For example, they've used one Top 10 section for both Shopping and Cafes which resulted in very few (and useless!) suggestions for each category. The listings of good restaurants which I found extremely helpful in other top 10 guides (e.g. Top 10 Rome) were very limited and poorly selected. I travelled to Pisa, Siena and Florence and for Pisa they've listed a couple of restaurants without providing a map or any details of their location. I felt that the main advantage of the TOP 10 series (brief information on many different categories summarized in a well organised manner) has been completely missed in this version of the guide. You needed to study the book in detail before the trip if you wanted to know where to look for the information you'd need while travelling. I usually don't have time to do that before the trip so I find Top 10 guides very helpful in finding exactly what I need when I am already there (they are also small and easy to carry around).

I will not be put off from buying other Top 10 guides in the future because I love their concept and I was extremely happy with their other guides. However, after this experience I will definitely browse the guides before buying them to ensure they are well organised and easy to use - something that the Top 10 Florence and Tuscany completely failed to achieve.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
What is great about this Top 10 guide is that it gives an overview - it provides a summary of what is on offer. Inside is not just the obvious - the Top 10 sights to see. Also you get the Top 10 museums & galleries, Top 10 markets, Top 10 Arts & Crafts, Top 10 events etc. - even the Top 10 things to avoid.

The book is very small - the size of a DL envelope. Consequently it is easy to carry around, and to put in your pocket. Its weight is very low so it won't weigh on your pocket.

It is divided by area with restaurant reviews for each, plus recommendations for shops, bars and hotels.

It can't provide detail - it can provide `the big picture'.

I now normally take two travel guides with me - one of these Top 10 ones and a detailed travel guide, to get the best of both worlds. If you just have a detailed travel guide, you can miss out on things that you wish you had visited.

On a separate issue, I prefer the paperback version over the Kindle version. I previously bought the Kindle version of a different DK Top 10 Eyewitness travel guide (for the Algarve) because I am a Kindle lover - to my surprise, I found the Kindle format terribly irritating. It taught me that when using a travel guide, you want to be able to flick quickly through it and jump around easily - that's SO much easier with a physical book.

In addition, you want it to be in colour - you can cure that by taking your iPad with you but an iPad is bigger and heavier than this book in its paperback version. You can get round that if you have an iPad mini or a large screen smartphone but you are still left with the problem of being unable to flick around the book quickly.

Travel guides just don't work well in the Kindle format, in my opinion.

You may feel otherwise but that is how I feel. I found the relative awkwardness in flicking around the Kindle book a major handicap. And this is despite the fact that I buy most of my books in Kindle format.

What I am saying is that this is a great book but my personal preference is to buy the paperback version.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2013
I have a number of DK Eyewitness Top 10 Guides and I find them all ver useful and handy. I do not want to carry a large heavy travel guide when visiting somewhere so this is a very handy guide that fits in your pocket. It contains enough information to take with you on your trips. You can always read more detail in other guides available in the library. I enjoy this travel guide series.
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on 24 August 2013
I have just used this little book for a week to tour independently in Tuscany. Only having a week, and only being in Tuscany, I did not want a big heavy book and this is just perfect. It is small and light and fits into a small over the shoulder bag or a pocket with ease. It is absolutely packed with loads of information on each page and gave great ideas for visiting places that I might not otherwise have gone to. The tips for 'a day out in....' were particularly helpful.
However there were a few downsides. It is a little annoying that each place may be highlighted in at least two, if not three places in the book, meaning that you are forever searching for that little paragraph you read earlier - it would be better to have everything about each location in one place in the book. In addition the maps are too small or non-existent. This would not be a problem if the book told you where the tourist office is in each place (as they usually have free maps) but it never did. Finally some of the opening and closing times were out of date which meant that I missed going to a museum that I particularly wanted to see (lesson - check on the Internet first!).
However these were just little niggles and on the whole the book is excellent. Most importantly it has an excellent and comprehensive index, and the vocabulary pages were very helpful too. I highly recommend it for short trips if you do not need a lot of detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2013
I used this guide throughout our trip to Italy and it was indeed very useful please note when visiting Pisa the Jolly Hotel is no longer called this.! Keep away from the tourists traps walk further and you will be rewarded by beautiful food and wine!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2013
Lovely book of Top 10 in Tuscany, which I recently used on a trip there. Good pictures and up-to-date information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2013
Just don't waste your money. It is barely a PDF of the text and the graphics are limited and useless.
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on 2 September 2014
Got this guide in readiness for our Tuscany holiday next year. We are planning where we want to tour around already, using this useful & informatiove, & excellent DK travel guide. Thank you.
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on 14 May 2015
Great reading for my up coming trip to Tuscany. very useful. Bought copies for 2 friends also who are coming with me on the same holiday. Handy size to take in hand luggage.
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