We used this book for a trip to Lucca and Florence and visited some places we haven't found in other guide books. Recommended restaurants were all great. We had a day out by bus recommended in the book and a great morning walk around Florence which introduced us to some less known places which we enjoyed more than the bigger attractions. Definitely a good buy.
Have ONLY used the book so far for Pisa and Lucca and surrounding area but found that the information given especially on Lucca was very poor. I know there is a huge area to cover but knowing this part of Italy quite well myself was hoping for some unusual recommendations .Thankfully our Italian hosts pointed us in the right direction for eating and drinking . One particularly weird recommendation was a "artisan toy shop " in the Anfiteatro . Horrible mass produced place with overpriced goods that could be found anywhere there were tourists . Pisa was given better treatment but sorry to say I won't be buying any more of these guides .The French Guide Routard is more thorough and imaginative.
This 352-page book - the 8th edition of January 2014 - is an interesting and readable guide to the Northern Italian region of Tuscany and its most famous city. This is a well-designed and presented guide, with useful maps. This is not a glossy guide with lots of colour pictures, but it is a well-designed and laid out guide, with colour used only sparingly. It is intended to be a meaningful guide to things to see and do, and not just a list of things to see and do.
It is broken down into four major sections:
Page 4 - Plan Your Trip: This section is an introduction to region, telling you what to look out for (Top 18), what you need to know in advance, lots of touristy stuff, etc.
Page 55 - On the Road (“The Guide”): P056: Florence (with a fold out map of the city inside the back-cover) P120: Northwestern Tuscany (with 7 sub-sections) P162: Central Coast & Elba (3) P187: Siena & Central Tuscany (5) P232: Southern Tuscany (3) P251: Eastern Tuscany (4)
Page 271 - Understand: This section contains articles on local culture - history, way of life, cuisine, arts & architecture, etc.
Page 319 - Survival Guide: This contains sections on transport, the A-Z Directory, etc. P332: Language P341: Index
This is the dullest and least useful guidebook I have ever owned! Some of the "information" in it is really just the authors' flights of fancy I feel! Case in point: there is a bit of blurb about how Tuscans believe it is very important to dress up for dinner - well thank you very much for those kilograms of pointless unneeded evening clothes.... We ate in all sorts of restaurants, osterias and so on, ranging right up to fine dining establishments, and the rest of the clientele was all turned out in shorts and vest tops. The scruffiest of all were the locals, the only people who were even slightly smart were tourists (probably trying to get the use out of the clothes they'd been told to pack!) Every write up on every city is soooooo dull, Etruscan this and that and how you get there by bus. We were on a family driving trip and this book gave us one bum steer after another. Don't bother with it, just follow your nose and use Trip Advisor to find restaurants etc - given that this book can't hope to cover more than a tiny percentage of all the places in each town, I don't know why it even bothers trying. Also it advertises a free pull out map - well the map is only of Florence, and on the day we went it rained and the map disintegrated. The way the book is cut up into regions totally didn't work for us as we started in Lucca and then stayed near San gimignano, so we seemed to be straddling several regions as designated in the book. It was very hard to get a feel for where the places are in relation to each other. Total waste of money and space.
I bought this for a trip to Florence, and it only has moderate coverage on that city. It is a great shame that Lonely Planet no longer offers a guidebook completely devoted to Florence alone. I did manage to buy a used copy of the older Florence book, and it provided much more useful coverage, although was out of date, not surprisingly. Overall, this current offering is probably very good if you are exploring Tuscany, but if you are mainly visiting Florence you will be disappointed.
Timings for some locations are over estimated. Prices are inaccurate sometimes by over 100% (uffizi). However if you use this book as a broad guide to locations and compare against other sources (trip advisor) you won't go far wrong.