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No matter where your jetsetting adventures take you, it’s always good to have a little help narrowing down the specifics. After all, the world’s a big place—and as much as it’s fun to discover it for yourself, an expert's take can go a long way. Italy, for example, has thousands of years of history to dig into, not to mention distinct regions that offer their own cuisines and wine. Whether you’re heading out on a grand tour of Italy or immersing yourself in just one small town, there’s a travel book out there to help get you on your way. Purchase one of these and you'll save yourself hours of internet research so once you’re on the ground, you can just enjoy the journey.
Our Top Picks
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Italy: 2019 Paperback
Some travel guides are updated yearly, while others languish for more than a decade before they’re revised. DK Eyewitness’ Travel Guide to Italy is kicking off 2019 with a brand-new edition of its classic Italian traveling companion. We love that the approach is less about telling you what to do and more about giving you the tools to create your own trip. At less than $20, it’s not a bad investment if you want a solid overview of Italy—and help figuring out what to do first. Although plenty of top sights are covered (because you’ll want to see those your first trip), there are also 36 pages of off-the-beaten-path ideas, so even if this is a repeat visit, you’re guaranteed to find new experiences to enjoy. We also love the addition of 70 detailed maps which help make the most of your urban wanderings.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Venice and the Veneto
Venice can be overwhelming — there are quite a few tourist traps, and frankly, the food can be average at best if you don’t know where to go. We love that this guide lays it all out for the curious traveler, and includes the greater Veneto region—as, after all, some of the best lodging deals are outside of Venice. Not only is there no shame in not staying in Venice proper, but this book will actually make you excited to do so. This guide also offers a few different ways to approach your trip planning, whether you want a quick-and-easy rundown of top sights, a take-with-you map to guide your day-of excursions around town, or you want plenty of background and detailed information about the museums, waterways, restaurants, and architecture you’ll be taking in. This guide is especially rewarding for museum-lovers, so if you’re into art and history, you'll want to pick up a copy stat.
The Revealed Rome Handbook
For first-time travelers to Rome who want to see both the top sights and the off-the-beaten-path ones, The Revealed Rome Handbook is an excellent choice. Less of a guide in the traditional sense and more of a handy, practical resource, this book offers plenty of both historic and practical information to help you live as much of a Roman life as possible while on holiday, from how to order coffee (and when you should order what kinds) to how to spot good gelato. There are also sections on etiquette and avoiding scams that are helpful for first-timers. The author, Amanda Ruggeri, is great at organizing sightseeing “routes” that allow you to see a group of sights in the most efficient way possible. Once you get tired of the tourist sights, however, she’s also laid out some of her favorite areas—as well as plenty of her favorite hidden treasures, like local wine bars and restaurants.
Glam Italia! Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget)
If you’re an anxious traveler, a first-time traveler, a tourist on a shoestring budget, or just someone who wants a guide to making authentic connections during their time in Italy, this guide from Corinna Cooke lays out how you can do Italy without breaking the bank—or your sanity. Cooke is a blogger and travel guide who’s curated private vacations throughout the country, so you can bet she has the real-talk tips and insider knowledge you need for a stress-free, easy-on-the-wallet time. Glam Italia! approaches Italy in a way that lets you use her information to create the dream itinerary you want, whether you’re focusing on foodie experiences, history, or shopping. She provides handy tools like regional lists of wine and even flight-booking advice so you get the best possible deals.
The History of Rome in 12 Buildings
This excellent guide approaches Rome as if it were an outdoor museum (which, well, it basically is), providing a curated tour of 12 of its most famous and significant buildings. It’s great for architecture, archaeology, and history junkies who are concentrating their trip around famous locations—or for anyone who wants to do a deep dive into the monuments and structures they come across during their wanderings. Twelve chapters — one for each building or monument and a period in Roman history — are neatly organized into three sections: one deals with its history, one has practical information about nearby restaurants and how-to-get-there details, and one gives readers a glimpse of what’s coming up next. All in all, it gives the reader not just names and dates, but the context surrounding the stunning artifacts Rome offers up to passersby's eyes.
Tuscany, Italy: Small-town Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler
A trip to Tuscany is often romanticized, and honestly, it’s for good reason. There’s just something special about this famous Italian region, where the air is scented with cypress and the food and wine are inseparable from the land. For foodies, this award-winning guide to Tuscany is a godsend, helping travelers immerse themselves in the daily rhythm of Tuscan life versus cherrypicking the most famous towns. It contains seven itineraries that take you through the small towns of the region. Expect plenty of restaurant recommendations, as well as a down-to-earth tone that mixes Michelin-ranked restaurants with little-known ones in scenic hill towns. This guide, created by a classical-musician couple who escape to a slower pace of life during the offseason, isn’t just about food, either. There’s plenty of information in here about history, too, so you’ll get the background behind some of the sights and buildings you’re seeing along the way.
2018 StreetSmart Rome
If you’re less into guidebooks and more into having a smart map to plan your daily explorations, StreetSmart’s Roman edition is just the thing. And yes, even in the age of Google Maps real maps are still necessary — especially if you’re traveling sans roaming data and need to be able to figure out where you are and where you’re going. This one clearly charts the major attractions, churches, galleries, architecture, shopping, and hotels in the Italian capital, with legibility you can read from three feet away. Handily, there’s 3D illustration, so rather than guessing if what you think you're looking at is actually what you’re looking at, you can make sure of it with a quick glimpse. We also love that it’s laminated and waterproof for ease of use. The author is a cartographer, graphic designer, and information architect—meaning he really knows what makes a great guided map of the city—and can convey it clearly (he even has some maps in the MoMa collection).
Kids’ Travel Guide: Italy & Rome
If you’re bringing little ones along on your trip to Italy, getting them their own travel guide before you take off can get them excited about the adventure to come. Although it does come in a Kindle edition for a bit less—handy if you’re flying with tight luggage restrictions—we love the paperback for a hands-on, more interactive experience. The book’s contents are a great way to teach kids about Italy in fun, interactive ways, with coloring pages, quizzes, and even handy travel tips just for them. As they read, they’ll learn about Italy’s language, history, geography, and culture, giving them a crash course on the country that might even teach the grown-ups on the trip a few things. There’s also information about some of the country’s top sights, like the Forum in Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica, so when you’re there taking it all in, they feel like active participants in the trip planning too.
Our writers spent 2 hours researching the most popular Italy guidebooks on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 36 different guidebooks overall, screened options from 17 different brands and read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.