Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler
  • Written by Barrie Kerper
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780307474902
  • Our Price: $19.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler

Buy now from Random House

  • Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler
  • Written by Barrie Kerper
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307476739
  • Our Price: $14.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler

Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Written by Barrie KerperAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Barrie Kerper

eBook

List Price: $14.99

eBook

On Sale: July 12, 2011
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-307-47673-9
Published by : Vintage Knopf
Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler
  • Email this page - Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler
  • Print this page - Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
This book has no tags.
You can add some at Library Thing.
Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents

Synopsis

This unique guide to one of today’s hottest tourist destinations combines fascinating articles by a wide variety of writers, woven throughout with the editor’s own indispensable advice and opinions—providing in one package an unparalleled experience of an extraordinary place.
 
This edition on Tuscany and Umbria features:
 
●   Articles, interviews, recipes, and quotes from writers, visitors, residents, and experts on the region, including Frances Mayes, Mario Batali, Erica Jong, Barbara Ohrbach, Faith Willinger, and David Leavitt.
 
●   In-depth pieces about Florence and the hill towns of Tuscany and Umbria that illuminate the simple pleasures of local cuisine, the dazzling art treasures of the Uffizi, the civilized wilderness of Tuscan back roads, the many varieties of olive oil, the endearing quirks of the Italian character, and much more.
 
●  Enticing recommendations for further reading, including novels, histories, memoirs, coookbooks, and guidebooks.
 
●  An A–Z Miscellany of concise and entertaining information on everything from biscotti to Super-Tuscan wine, from the history of the Medicis to traveling with children.
 
● Spotlights on unusual shops, restaurants, hotels, and experiences not to be missed.
 
● More than a hundred black-and-white photographs and illustrations.

Excerpt

from the Introduction by Barrie Kerper

Tuscany is without doubt one of the most visited regions of Italy and is the region many people think of first whey they think of Italy.  And with good reason:  the treasures and pleasures of Florence alone could easily hold one’s attention for years.  Umbria, often known as “the green heart of Italy,” exists somewhat in Tuscany’s shadow, but happily within the last dozen years or so many visitors have discovered that it, too, offers world-class gems of art and architecture, and its cuisine and landscapes are the equal to its neighbor’s.
 
Some people feel that Tuscany, Florence especially, is too clichéd and too popular for its own good, and too much like anywhere else.  (Often, visitors complain excessively about the problems tourism creates, about Italian corruption and bureaucracy; but I like to remind them of a remark made many, many years ago by Lord Byron: “There is, in fact, no law or government at all [in Italy]; and it is wonderful how well things go on without them.”) But those who think Italy isn’t exotic enough to be trave-worthy are simply mistaken: things are different in Tuscany and Umbria.  Such everyday scenes as a young woman crossing a cobblestone street in stiletto heels balancing two cups of espresso, men conversing animatedly using so many unfamiliar hand and facial gestures you’d think you had landed on Mars, widowed women dressed head to toe in black, or merchants closing up shop simultaneously for la pausa (the lunchtime siesta) on a hot summer afternoon are just as foreign to a North American as what you might experience in Asia or Africa. 

Florence, like other cities throughout Tuscany and Umbria, is filled with much that is old but also plenty that is new. Unfortunately, some American fast food chains have found a foothold here and many international stores are the very same ones we find in North America; still, it is mostly the older sites we come to see. I for one will never forget the day I first saw Santa Maria del Fiori, Florence’s Duomo: as I walked down a narrow street the name of which I no longer remember, I saw a sliver of it suddenly; as I approached it and discerned the different colors and patterns of marble, I was filled with a warmth and a happiness to be alive I’ve rarely felt again.  Over the years, no matter how crowded Florence becomes, the Duomo will never fail to impress.          
 
Part of the reason Florence can feel completely overrun with tourists is that it’s quite a compact city and you can run repeatedly into the same visitors.  But it is also the remarkable repository of a huge number of the world’s greatest works of art.  It’s easy to succumb to Stendhal Syndrome, named for the French novelist Stendhal, who felt physically sick after he visited Santa Croce.  It refers to the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by your surroundings. (My translation: seeing and doing way too much.)  Visitors to Florence who arrive with too long a list of must-sees are prime candidates for the syndrome. Author and Italian expert Fred Plotkin counseled against falling into this trap in his foreword to Claudio Gatti’s Florence in Detail (an excellent guidebook), by advising, “Like it or not, one must adopt a policy of ‘Poco, ma buono' (loosely translated as ‘Do less, but do it really well’) to experience what Florence has to offer.  A mad dash through a gallery will leave you with only fleeting impressions.  Spend ten minutes in front of one painting and you will see remarkable things that a two-minute look could not reveal; spend an hour in front of that same painting and your life will be changed.  To really pause and reflect, whether in front of a sculpture or a dish of gelato, is to find the presence of art and genius in all things.”  

I would add that by creating more reasonable itineraries, you actually give yourself the opportunity to acquire more than a superficial understanding of a place.   I particularly enjoy simply sitting at a café table, looking, listening, and wondering.  What is life like in the beautiful apartment building off the piazza, the one the young boy has just entered carrying a purchase from the panificio?  I am curious about the elderly man in his shoe repair shop, and the fruit vendor at the Mercato Centrale who talks nonstop and greets everyone as though she’s know them all her life.  And, enviously, I wonder where the two office girls breaking for a cigarette bought their beautiful suits. “Slow” is a good word to keep in mind when visiting Italy.

Table of Contents

Introduction
 
ITALY
My Italy, by Erica Jong
Welcome to my Rented Nightmare, by Mary-Lou Weisman
Buon Viaggio: A Bouquet of Reminders, by Kate Simon
Recommended Reading
 
TUSCANY
The Trouble with Tuscany, by Fred Plotkin
Market Day in a Tuscan Town, by Frances Mayes
Italy’s Best-Kept Secret, by David Leavitt
Only in Tuscany, by Dan Hofstadter
Coming Home to Chianti, by Gini Alhadeff
Lucca: A Tuscan Treasure, by Lorraine Alexander
Siena in Three Acts, by William Zinsser
Recommended Reading
Interview: Barbara Milo Ohrbach
Interview: Frances Mayes
Interview: Charlie Conrad
 
UMBRIA
Perugia, by Nadia Stancioff
Spoleto: A Town for all Seasons, by Nadia Stancioff
The Hills of the Sublime, by G. Y. Dryansky
Recommended Reading
Interview: Joan and Roger Arndt
 
FLORENCE
The First Time I Saw Florence, by Sallie Tisdale
The Other Side of the Arno, by Jo Durden-Smith
Florence, Then and Now, by Adam Begley
Learning to Live with Arrivederci, by Susan Jacoby
Recommended Reading
Interview: Lisa McGarry
 
LA CUCINA ITALIANA
Beaneaters & Bread Soup, by Lori DeMori
Italy’s Original Garlic Bread, by S. Irene Virbila
Tuscan Olive Oils, by Faith Heller Willinger
Italy’s Vin Santo: A Sip of Hospitality, by S. Irene Virbila
Nach Waxman and Matt Sartwell’s Favorite Food Books: An Interview
Interview: Sergio Esposito
 
A TAVOLA!
Florentine Trattorias, by Faith Willinger
Florence: A Restaurant Renaissance, by Faith Willinger
Valle del Serchio and Garfagnana, by Beth Elon
Recommended Reading
Interview: Faith Willinger
 
PIAZZE, GIARDINI E MONUMENTI
Back Roads of Tuscany, by William Sertl
Botticelli’s Primavera, by Roy McMullen
The Cloisters of Florence, by Louis Inturrisi
The Last Supper, Seen Six Ways, by Louis Inturrisi
Recommended Reading
 
A TUSCAN AND UMBRIAN MISCELLANY
Barrie Kerper|Author Q&A|Author Desktop

About Barrie Kerper

Barrie Kerper - Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler

Photo © Peggy Harrison

Barrie Kerper, a former journalist and avid traveler, is the editor of numerous books in the Collected Traveler series.

Author Q&A

A Q & A between Barrie Kerper, author of Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler, and her Vintage Books editor, Diana Tesdell

DT
:  You've described how the idea for the Collected Traveler series developed out of your lifelong (and perhaps obsessive!) habit of collecting interesting articles and books and information about your travel destinations and sharing them with your friends. But now that you are doing your collecting not only for yourself but for publication, and your trips are not only vacations but research for your books, do you find that has changed your experience of travel, or only intensified the pleasure you get from it?
 
BK:  A writer friend once told me that she has to write, everyday, in the same way that she has to eat or brush her teeth.  My habit of being a modern-day hunter-gatherer is likewise so much a part of my life that I don't even think about how I reflexively have to clip articles from periodicals, need to browse a website or blog, must track down an out-of-print book, or positively cannot miss seeing a museum exhibition.  So I do all of this anyway as a matter of course, whether I'm traveling for business or pleasure.  This said, however, when I'm working on a book it is work, which means rising very early nearly every day in order to cram in all the appointments and interviews I've made, to see and do new things, revisit familiar haunts, and make new and unexpected discoveries.  I am often extremely exhausted at the end of every (very long) day, and I admit that sometimes my work itineraries do go against the way I encourage my readers to travel.  I'm not proud of this, but sometimes, though I'm running on empty, I am so enthusiastic and so high about what I'm experiencing that it's impossible to stop.  Yet, my most successful days are those when I've carefully created an hourly itinerary with plenty of realistic time built in for slowing down, allowing for leisurely rambling, an afternoon siesta, and an evening walk and glass of wine before dinner.  I've learned that by crafting a detailed itinerary – including where I will eat meals, what neighborhoods I will visit, what museums and monuments I will see, what sporting events I will attend, and what shops I will poke into – I actually have more free time and I don't rush around.  That may sound odd, but it's true: the more thoroughly you plan, the more realistic your itinerary will be, and you will also avoid disappointment (some museums, galleries, and monuments are closed on certain days of the week, during certain hours of the day, or in some seasons of the year, and others require an advance appointment).   I always end a trip feeling fairly satisfied that I saw and did nearly everything I wanted – I say nearly because, after all, it takes nothing less than a lifetime to really know a place, and as the French are fond of saying, il faut toujours garder une perle pour la prochaine fois (it's necessary to always save a pearl for the next time).         
 
DT:  In your Collected Traveler books, you mix contemporary articles by a wide range of writers with your own advice on places to see and things to do based on your recent visits. But occasionally you include an older article. For instance, in Istanbul you include Mary Cable's wonderful piece about the Harem of Topkapi Palace, "The Grand Seraglio," which describes the place as it looked when the author visited it in the 1950s -- and includes as well vivid historical background about the sultans, their concubines, outrageously lavish banquets, and violent palace intrigues. Why include a piece like that rather than a recent article that describes the palace as tourists will encounter it now, the way a standard guidebook would?  
 
BK:  Since each edition in The Collected Traveler series is meant to be a companion volume to a traveler's favorite guidebook(s), it doesn't make sense to me to duplicate information.  What guidebooks can't do simply by definition is provide a lot of depth.  There are some very good guidebooks that do go into greater detail than others – I've been fond for years of the Blue Guides, Rough Guides, and Lonely Planet, for example – but generally speaking guidebooks would quickly turn into encyclopedias if they included more.  More important, however, is the fact that the older articles and essays I include are particularly well written, thought-provoking, or unique in some way, and the authors' views stand as a valuable record of a certain time in history.  Even after the passage of many years, you may share the author's emotions and opinions, and often you find that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The books wouldn't be nearly as compelling if they featured only contemporary accounts.  
 
DT: Two subjects of the Collected Traveler books are Paris and the Tuscany and Umbria regions of Italy. These are more familiar destinations to most people than Turkey is, and many may feel they already know as much as they need to about them. Certainly you are already extremely familiar with them. Did you come across anything in your research for these new editions that surprised you?
 
BK: The first thing I realized when I began working on the updated editions of Tuscany & Umbria and Paris is that the more I know, the more I find I don't know!  There is still plenty to learn about these well-trodden destinations – to paraphrase Hemingway, "there is never any end to Paris," or to all the corners of Tuscany and Umbria.  Just when I think I have a fact or story nailed down, I learn of new tangents that send me off learning more details.  And all of it is interesting!  Paris remains a magnificent, dynamic city, and the regions of Tuscany and Umbria continue to amaze me with how many wonderful towns and villages are little visited by North Americans today and how many details there are still to be discovered in those that are, like Perugia, Arezzo, Pienza, Prato, Montalcino, and even Cortona.  Sometimes I think that with well-known destinations it's even more important to focus -- I'm reminded of John Ruskin, who deplored how seldom people notice the small details of everyday life:  "No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour will make us one whit stronger, happier, or wiser. There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace." 
 
DT: It's pretty clear that you love to travel -- your enthusiasm and sheer joy shine through on practically every page of your books. Do you think that your approach to visiting a new destination – to gather all the best writing and most insightful information that you can find, to try to understand a place in depth -- says something basic about why we travel at all?
 
BK:  To me it certainly does, and I believe it does also to travelers who are inquisitive, individualistic and indefatigable in their eagerness to explore.  The world is wide, and it is filled with such amazing people and places. To again quote Bruce Northam, "Remember, we are all one.  Find out for yourself what a miraculous world we live in."  Because the world is so big, it's also diverse, and I travel to see that diversity, to see how people live in other parts of the world.  Istanbul, and all of Turkey, is different, happily, and as Paul Bowles noted in Their Heads Are Green, Their Hands Are Blue, "Each time I go to a place I have not seen before, I hope it will be as different as possible from the places I already know.  I assume it is natural for a traveler to seek diversity, and that it is the human element which makes him most aware of difference.  If people and their manner of living were alike everywhere, there would not be much point in moving from one place to another." Though the world today is more accessible than in the past, and therefore feels smaller, I do not believe it is more homogenous.  And the fact that information is so readily available to us today, in numerous formats, means there is no excuse for ignorance.  Curiosity is the most basic reason for travel, and curious readers and travelers will always enjoy both the preparation and the journey.

Author Q&A

Barrie Kerper’s Tuscany & Umbria Top 10:
Places to stay, cities to visit, and experiences not to be missed!


Great Guides: Alessandra Marchetti (for Florence, including the Vasari Corridor: aleoberm@tin.it); Paolo Cesaroni (for driving tours in Tuscany and Umbria: paolocesaroni@tin.it); Marco Bellanca (for Umbria: bellsista@yahoo.it).

Le Vigne is the home of Americans Joan and Roger Arndt, who reside in the ground level portion of this beautifully restored casa colonica (that was once a convent dating from the 12th century) and rent the upstairs self-catered apartment by the week. Read Joan’s self-published book, Italian Lessons, about the Arndt’s journey from the States to full-time residency in Umbria.

Website: www.levigne.net

• Faith Willinger’s ‘Lessons in Lunch,’ ‘Bistecca 101,’ and ‘Food-Lovers Walking Tour.’ Faith—author of Eating in Italy; Red, White, and Greens; and Adventures of an Italian Food Lover—conducts fantastic, intimate (no more than 8 people) cooking classes in her eighteenth-century kitchen in the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence. Her capable and enthusiastic assistant Cristina offers the ‘Food-Lovers Walking Tour’ as well as ‘The Gelato Crawl.’

Website: www.faithwillinger.com

La Foce means “the meeting place” and was originally a tavern located at the crossing of two roads, one of which was the Via Francigena, the road that connected Canterbury with Rome. Beginning in 1924, La Foce was the home of Marchese Antonio Origo and his Anglo-American wife Iris, who wrote one of the ten best books I’ve ever read: War in Val d’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 (David Godine, 1984; originally published 1947). Today La Foce is a 2,000+ acre estate with eleven farmhouses that have been restored with care and are available for rent. The view from almost every spot is breathtaking, and the formal garden is open to the general public every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m., reservations required.

Website: www.lafoce.com

Villa I Tatti and Villa La Pietra are two of Florence’s most famous former private homes that can be visited. The legendary Anglo-American community in Florence lived in the hills surrounding the city, and though Florence itself offers so much to see and do, visitors who venture to the hills will be richly rewarded. I Tatti, the home of Bernard Berenson, is harder to visit because it’s not a museum and only scholars, students, Harvard alumni, people with ties to Harvard or with a special interest in the Renaissance may arrange visits; but La Pietra, bequeathed to New York University in 1994 by Sir Harold Acton, offers visits to the Villa and its beautiful gardens.

Websites: www.itatti.it, www.nyu.edu/global/lapietra

La Maremma is the area slightly inland from the coastal area of Tuscany on the Tyrrhenian Sea that takes its name, “marshland,” from the marshes that were prevalent here until the 1930s. Today it still feels relatively undiscovered, and its coastal neighbors—the towns of Orbetello, Porto Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano—are wonderful and often free of North American tourists.

Website: www.maremmaguide.com 

• The city of Prato only twenty minutes from Florence by train, is an often overlooked city that is hugely appealing: the palazzo of Francesco Datini, a real life merchant detailed in Iris Origo’s The Merchant of Prato, is a gem; the renowned textile museum, Museo del Tessuto, is Italy’s largest center for the study, conservation, and exhibition of historic and contemporary textiles; and the Antonio Mattei bakery, dating from 1858, produces Italy’s most renowned biscotti (also known locally as cantucci).

Website: www.pratoturismo.it

• Other Tuscan towns that are great to visit: Arezzo, Cortona, Lucca, Montalcino, Pienza, Pistoia

Umbrian towns to visit: Norcia, Orvieto, Perugia, Spello, Spoleto, Todi

Cantine Lungarotti in Umbria. Giorgio Lungarotti put Umbrian wine on the map, and today his legacy continues under the direction of his daughter Teresa and her half sister, Chiara. The Torgiano and Montefalco wineries are great to visit, and the Lungarotti Foundation also supports a wine museum and an olive and oil museum. Le Tre Vaselle (www.3vaselle.it) is the Lungarotti-owned hotel and restaurant, both renowned, and Poggio alle Vigne is the agriturismo with three lodgings on the property.

Website: www.lungarotti.it/en/


 
Barrie Kerper is the editor of Tuscany & Umbria: The Collected Traveler, available in paperback from Vintage Books. Find out more about Barrie Kerper and the series at www.thecollectedtraveler.com

Praise

Praise

“Perfect for both the armchair traveler and those who want to get up and go.” —Chicago Tribune

  • Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler by Barrie Kerper
  • July 27, 2010
  • Travel - Europe - Italy
  • Vintage
  • $19.00
  • 9780307474902

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: