Every once in a while, I enjoy grabbing an tourist book from my parents’ collection. You know the kind I mean: the ones sold in shops aimed at tourists and museum gift shops in the major travel destinations.
They’re usually dismissed as fluff for the tourist trade, but the truth is that they are equally often well-researched information sources with unexpected depth. A couple of years ago, I read the one about Florence which surprised me because it was a spectacularly in-depth history of the golden age of the city and well worth reading.
The Roman volume in my parents’ stash is more in line with what one would expect. A well-written intro to each major attraction followed by a number of well-captioned photographs.
This particular volume is worth the price of admission because it covers is great detail the sistine chapel and Raphael rooms in the Vatican even though it is less concerned with the rest of the city and pretty much says nothing about Roman history in general.
It serves best as a record of how these paintings looked in the early eighties (they have since been restored) and as a repository of pictures of Rome in the late sixties. Wonderfully atmospheric, reasonably educational but–confirming the touristy stereotype–perhaps not as much depth as one would prefer.
Anyway, if you collect books on Rome, this one is interesting for the Vatican painting sections.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose love of travel is reflected in all his work, but perhaps most particularly in his ebook thriller Timeless, the bulk of which takes place on Mount Athos in Greece (a monastic hub which even in the modern day doesn’t allow women to set foot on it… which is bad news for the female main character) and southern Italy. You can check it out here.