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Instructions for Use

Book Review


Italy: Instructions for Use
Nan McElroy
Paperback, 110 pages
Illustrata Press US $14.95
ISBN 1-885436-30-0

Guidebooks to Italy come in many guises. Some are encyclopedic; others deliver exhaustive commentaries on art and culture; many focus on where to stay and where to eat. Few devote much space to practical advice for the first-time traveler to Italy, because they just don't have room to do more than touch on the basics. To fill that gap, Nan McElroy has written Italy: Instructions for Use, which is billed as "the personal, on-site assistant for the enthusiastic but inexperienced traveler."

The attractively printed 110-page guide is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket or purse, yet it's jammed with advice on topics such as:

  • Driving, parking, roads, and rules (including color pictures of international road signs).

  • Trains, rail tickets and passes, finding the right train and car at the railroad station, and where to store luggage during stopovers.

  • Basic Italian vocabulary and pronunciation--enough to help you deal with the basics, and no more.

  • Types of restaurants, ordering, service charges, and tipping.

  • Shopping, including where to look for things like phone cards, bus tickets and other sundries; how to save with cash discounts; and advice on VAT refunds and shipping.

  • How to make local and international phone calls in Italy, and how to minimize your telephone costs.

The book also has an appendix with useful Web sites, recommended books and movies, estimated travel times and costs (by train or car) between major cities, and other helpful information.

Recommendation: You won't need this book if you're an old hand at travel in Italy, but if this is your first trip and you want to keep advice on Italian travel basics at your fingertips, Italy: Instructions for Use is a handy and helpful tool.

For more information, see the sample excerpts on page 2:

Next page: Excerpts from Italy: Instructions for Use

In this review:
Italy: Instructions for Use
Excerpts: The Superstrada, Italian phone numbers