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Major Cities & Towns: Florence (Firenze), Livorno, Grosseto, Lucca, Massa Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato, Siena, Arezzo

General Guides
City Secrets Florence, Venice & the Towns of Italy Lonely Planet Tuscany Travel Guide
Eyewitness Florence & Tuscany Lonely Planet Florence Travel Guide
Fodor's Travel Guide Florence, Tuscany & Umbria Michelin Green Guide: Tuscany
Insight Florence Rough Guide: Tuscany & Umbria
Places to Stay
Charming Small Hotels Tuscany & Umbria Italian Country Hideaways
Hidden Gems: Hotels of Tuscany  
Food Lover's Companion Tuscany Trattorias of Rome, Florence & Venice
Simply Tuscany? Tuscan Year, Life and Food...
Touring in Wine Country Tuscany (aco) Heat
A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany My Tuscany
Blue Guide: Tuscany Blue Guide: Florence
Walking & Eating in Tuscany & Umbria Architectural Guide: Florence
Walking in Tuscany (interlink) Florence Walking Guide (Oelerich)

Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art A. Richard Turner ART & ARCHITECTURE 1997 PAPER 176 PAGES

Taking as his cue the great art and famous monuments of Florence, Turner explores the cultural and social history of the city. It's an art and architecture oriented guide with abundant color illustrations. (ITL50, $18.95)

The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings R.W.B. Lewis CULTURAL PORTRAIT 1995 HARD COVER 350 PAGES

A personal and vivid tour of the city and its riches. Lewis has written what he calls "a partial biography of Florence," beautifully interweaving of the personal and the historical. (ITL61, $27.50)

Architecture of the Renaissance, from Brunelleschi to Palladio Bertrand Jestaz ART & ARCHITECTURE 1997 PAPER 160 PAGES

Originating in Florence, the flowering of architecture in 15th-century Italy revolutionized the look of European cities and the mindset of its citizens. This lavishly illustrated pocket book presents the people, the time, and its monuments in hundreds of color photographs and engravings. With a fascinating section of contemporary writings and a few paragraphs on all the important players. A jewel. (ITL52, $12.95)

Historical Contemporary

STONES OF FLORENCE, $13.00, Mary McCarthy

This tribute to Florence, originally published in 1959, is still a vivid portrait of the city and its history. Exploring the city's past and present, McCarthy in the process offers a tour that covers everything from a description of oil painting to the remarkable history behind Florence's many towers. According to The New York Times Book Review, "Miss McCarthy is not only well versed in the subject but her taste is sure and her style - cool, astringently witty, yet eloquent - seems tailor-made for depicting the brilliant, mercurial, skeptical Florentines...no student of the Renaissance should be without The Stones of Florence".

Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
  Also available by Frances Mayes:
Bella Tuscany
  IN TUSCANY, $35.00 (cloth), Frances Mayes with Edward Mayes

WITHIN TUSCANY, $14.95, Matthew Spender

Unlike any other account of the region, Matthew Spender's book is a rich combination of personal observation and historical inquiry. Spender's meditations on his chosen homeland of twenty years are fired with intelligence, humor, and an overriding sense of the palpability of the past. He is captivated in turn by trace memories of the Etruscans subjected to Roman cultural genocide, by the obsessive diaries of Pontormo and the ancient practice of extracting oil from olives; by the burning of Savonarola and by the sound of bees mourning their lost queen. Together with family, or accompanied by the mischievous archaeologist Vittoria, he encounters the Magus of Montecapraia, filmmakers from Rome, a funeral party, the leader of the local band, and many craftsmen who still follow traditions that have endured for two millennia. Spender in extraordinary detail writes of the battle of Montaperti in 1260, when for the last time the Sienese defeated the Florentines, with the help of Florentine exiles. Dante describes the river Arbia on the boundary between the two contestants at Montaperti as "colored red with blood." The passions which this archaic rivalry evoke are still present in modern Tuscany. Matthew Spender's eloquent memoir explores the interfusion of violence and gentleness, turbulence and great civility, in an incomparably vivid portrait.


IN MAREMMA: Life and a House in Southern Tuscany



A Bittersweet Adventure
  Hills of Tuscany (Mate)
  Tuscan Childhood
  Songbirds, Truffles & Wolves

The Agony & the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo (fiction), Irving Stone

This passionate biographical/historical novel portrays the life and times of Michelangelo. Irving portrays his times the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring Popes, the all-powerful de'Medici family, the fanatic monk Savonarola; his loves - the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de'Medici; the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi; and his last love, his greatest love - the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna; and his genius -- a God-driven fury from which he wrested the greatest art the world has ever known. The reader becomes involved in the achievements, glories and romances of Michelangelo while gaining an enhanced appreciation of the arts. Engaging to read at any time, the book brings the Italian Renaissance to life and is particularly good to read en route to or while in Florence and/or Rome.

A ROOM WITH A VIEW, $9.95 E. M. Forster

Visiting Italy with her prim and proper cousin Charlotte as a chaperone, Lucy Honeychurch meets the unconventional lower-class Mr. Emerson and his son, George. Upon her return to England she becomes engaged to the supercilious Cecil Vyse, but finds herself increasingly torn between the expectations of the world in which she moves and the passionate yearnings of her heart. As Forster writes, "You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you." More than a love story, A Room With a View is a perceptive examination of class structure and a penetrating social comedy.

A Rich Full Death, $12.00, Michael Dibdin

Florence, 1885. "The English are dying too much," the city's police chief observes. And members of the foreign community in this quaint Italian backwater, both English and American, are indeed dying at an alarming rate and in an extraordinary variety of ingenious and horrible ways. With the local authorities out of their depth, the distinguished resident Robert Browning launches his own private investigation, aided and abetted by an expatriate Robert Booth. Unfortunately, their amateur sleuthing is hampered by the fact that each of their suspects becomes the next victim in a series of murders orchestrated by a killer with a taste for poetic justice. A Rich Full Death features characters both historical and imaginary, ranging from an enticing servant girl to Mr. Browning's consumptive, world-famous wife, Elizabeth Barrett, in a tale lush with period detail, intricately plotted, and with a truly astonishing final twist.

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