Italy: 38 road trips planned for you!

Lonely Planet has just released its first European guidebooks for its successful Best Trips series, with the publication of France’s Best Trips, Ireland’s Best Trips and Italy’s Best Trips which has 38 road trips planned for you.  

These Best Trips are ideal for travellers who want to explore a specific region by car and each guide is packed with more than 30 road trips; inspirational trip ideas; exciting regional detours; and detailed directions and map – including a pull-out map.

I have a copy of Italy’s Best Trips and am sure we would have discovered more had I had this when exploring the non-tourist area I stayed in a few years ago, on my last trip. (We stayed near Fabro Scalo in the hilltop hamlet of Carnaiola, Umbria.

Many travellers restrict themselves to Italy’s star cities, but with a car you’ll discover there’s more to the country than Michelangelo masterpieces and Roman ruins. The 38 trips in Italy’s Best Trips run the length of the country, from the northern Alps to southern Sicily, and cover a range of experiences.

On my travel bucket list would be Route# 35: the Sicilian Island Hop which starts at Mt Etna and ends at Salina and which it seems has jaw-dropping views and homes that climb the hill side … ‘steeply stacked” is how the book describes them.

Of course I also want to add Historic Sardinia (#38) to my bucket list with its ‘isolated towns known for feuding and bandits’.

So, if you are heading for Italy (or elsewhere) check out this latest offering from Lonely Planet.

My copy will be available for viewing (to dream over  before you buy your own) while you have real coffee at Caffe Italiano – in the Plaza, 719 Whangaparaoa Rd. (NZ of course)

Make sure you tell them the ‘kiwitravelwriter’  sent you!

Catapulting donkeys – I must be in Italy

Travel writing comes in many forms, from letters and postcards to blogs, travel guides, stories and home movies: here is another one – a DVD for you to get ideas for your trip; as a prompter for memories of past trips, or as armchair travel.

This DVD has stories of catapulting donkeys, cheese, fashion, polenta and lakes, so, it must be scenes of Italy that we are viewing.  Seems the donkeys were used as weapons in village warfare ..  as I recall from the DVD, between Sienna and another town.

One of a series of “Best of Europe” from Questar, this one, ‘Beautiful Italy’ is great for all who want to know more of the Italian way of life and top tourist tips – the best trip for all travel being “don’t even try to cram it all in” as someone says in this travel title.

Despite Vita Sackville-West saying “travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong-Kong” I do like to hear what others have seen or felt – and I suspect many of us do or we wouldn’t buy travel books, or sign up for travel blogs on the numbers we do.

Read more about other Italian DVDs on my blog

Others in the series are of Greece and Germany – these all have 2 discs, in Blu-ray and DVD.

‘travel is the most private of pleasures’

Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong-Kong” said Vita Sackville-West.

Nevertheless, I was happy to see what Steve McCurdy saw in Italy!

This new DVD by McCurdy (the first of his that I’ve seen) is A Year in Italy and is far from being boring. It’s not a guide book or advert telling you where to go and what to see but a series of vignettes of the colours and tastes of Italy – a country I’ve been to three times.

Seems this travel journalist, like me, doesn’t always do the ‘must sees’ of many guide-books, and his comment that he often ‘finds answers to life’s problems when travelling’ resonated with me. I like the spontaneity and unexpected twists that this love story takes. And a love story it is: Steve McCurdy, says he, “like his father, was Italian in another life,’ and this personal montage is homage to Italy – a real celebration of Italian life and whether you have been there or not, I’m sure you too will fall in love with it.

As ‘travel writing’ with a difference, this is not a film to sit and take notes as to where  you may like to go, but one that  offers an overview of scenes, pictures, sounds, and views from a train. I’m sure even Vita Sackville-West would have loved this.

Steve McCurdy began his film and video production career in 1988 after graduating with a B.A. in Broadcast Communications. It seems that since 1994, he has pursued freelance work and started his own company, Creative Light Productions.  Since then he has directed and filmed in over 20 countries. His work, just like this DVD, deals with people, places, cultures and the human experience. He has worked on several short films, and in 2003 completed his first feature travel documentary,

My only negative comments are these. At times the background music refuses to stay in the background and dominates, and secondly, the title is a well overused term, a cliché: Google came up with 185,000,000 sites. And, it was a shame a tour guide was given an advert on what had been ‘guidebook free’ until that point. Quibbles, maybe, but that’s what a review is about . . .  the good, the great,  and the not so good, just like all travel writing should be – an honest appraisal through my eyes.

A Year in Italy will be released today (20th April 2010) and is being distributed by Questar

If travel is a pilgrimage as suggested in this travel story, I’m sure McCurdy plans on  a life of being a pilgrim.