It is no secret that I love Italy. In fact, I used to have a separate blog for my Italian travels, which I called Bewitched by Italy. So I was very happy to get a new title from Lonely Planet: Experience Italy. It could have been written just for me…

Experience Italy by Lonely Planet
Experience Italy, a new title from Lonely Planet

Experience Italy: Not Your Typical Guidebook

The introduction to Experience Italy says that this is “not your typical guidebook”. In fact, it’s not really a guidebook at all: it is more a celebration of everything that Italy has to offer. Within the pages of this book you will find food (and even a few recipes), wine, cities and countryside, art, music and much more.

Experience Italy - gelati
Naturally, there is an entry on gelato

Some entries – like “a night at the opera” or “Emiglia-Romagna’s Soul Food” – might be expected. Others less so. You can read about the design history of the Vespa, or the timeless existence of the cowboys of Tuscany. Or how to eat “gluten-free in the land of pasta”…

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Using Experience Italy for Inspiration

The book is loosely arranged in sections. So there is “Dolce Vita” (mostly about food and fine living) and “Viva Italia” (daily life and social customs). The section that caught my eye was called “Che Sorpresa!”, with gems such as “The Battle of the Oranges” (an annual event in Piedmont “that carpets the street in smashed fruit”.) The major cities have their own entries. So, for instance, you’ll find “Ten Ways to Fall in Love with Rome”, a tour around some of the city’s quirks, such as the fact that the Vatican City mints its own euro coins.

Experience Italy - Sorrento
Not the usual view of Sorrento…

However, the reader is encouraged to hop from one page to another. It is described as “a scavenger hunt”, with cross references to other pages at the end of each entry. I was frequently distracted, but that is the point of this book… Experience Italy is not a book to carry with you on your travels, but one to read at home and savour. It will bring back memories of past visits to Italy, and inspire your future exploration.

You can buy Experience Italy from the Lonely Planet online shop.

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