Every once in a while, something, or someone, comes along with information about Italy that makes me realize how little I really know about the country. (That's a bold confession from a travel planner specializing in travel to Italy!) Recently, it was the book 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go written by Susan Van Allen.
If you are content in only seeing the major sites in Italy, then stop reading now and click to another post. This book is not for you. However, if you are like me, and enjoy getting off the beaten path, learning the back-stories behind the places and sites you're seeing, and take delight in experiencing life as a local, then this book is a MUST for you!
For example, did you know that Raphael's biographer claims that Raphael died from too much sex? Or, did you know that the Virgin Mary wore a girdle, and that girdle is safely locked away in a chapel in Prato? (I won't tell you how it got there...you'll have to read about it in the book!) What about the treasured Ste. Catherine? Did you know that her body is enshrined in a Roman church while her head is in Siena and a foot rests in Venice? That's a story worth reading!
But that's not all. Would you know where to find the ooh-la-la lingerie worn by those sleek sexy Italian women? Or, would you know how to find the nearest yoga retreat? (That chapter made me wonder how to say "Downward Dog" in Italian!) And, if shoes are your thing...just turn to page 235! From cities to churches, beaches to beauty parlors, and adventures to Italian crafts, Ms. Van Allen takes you into the Italian culture where few travelers dare to go.
To the traveler (whether you're planning your first trip to Italy or your 10th): 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go is an excellent supplement to your standard guidebook. It will inspire you to go beyond the main attractions and taste a little of the local life.
To the travel agent and travel planner: Susan Van Allen's book is a tremendous resource that will help you encourage and design more meaningful vacations for clients. You will take them to places they would never discover on their own. My copy is already tagged and highlighted for not-to-miss places on my next visit!
EDITED TO ADD: Contest has ended. Thank you for your entries. The winner is announced in the comments below.
And guys, if you think this book is only for the girls, then let me set you straight. My husband was grabbing it out of my hands before I could finish the final chapter! So, I hope to see your entries, too!
Contest rules: This contest will be open until 12 pm, August 21. You are allowed ONE entry per person. One lucky winner will be selected via a random number generator and announced here on this site.