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  • Reviews for 101 Places in Italy, A Private Grand Tour by Francis Russell
  • 101 Places in Italy A Private Grand Tour |  Francis Russell
Reviews for 101 Places in Italy, A Private Grand Tour by Francis Russell
‘Despite the title's genuflection to the patron saint of current art publishing, this is a very good guide indeed. Francis Russell is a very serious art historian, specialising in Italian Old Masters and architecture. He knows the cultural history of Italy from end to end, pays us the compliment of not talking down to us and, mirabile dictu, the publishers have not diluted his dense-packed erudition. For practical everyday touring, one would have to pair it with a Blue or Rick Steves guide, but, for the past few weeks, I have been using it to prepare for Italian visits and it is quite invaluable. Where the admirable Mr. Steves tells only of the buses to Sant'Antimo (Tuscany), for instance, Mr. Russell does due justice to what he calls ‘the most luminous Romanesque church in Italy'. Any traveller in Italy will argue about some of his choices, and still more his necessary omissions, but no art-minded visitor to the country should be without it.' - Country Life
‘The author has achieved the near impossible…a must-squeeze-into-hand-baggage or the back pack' - House and Garden
‘Author Francis Russell traverses Italy from big cities to the Italian countryside in this "private" tour of Italy's finest works of art and special places. He begins in the Piedmont region and ends on the island of Sardinia. He describes cathedrals, mosaics, statues, frescoes, palaces, gardens, museums, ruins and classic paintings. He includes stops in the great Italian cities and towns, such as Parma, Bologna, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Orvieto, Pompeii, Naples and Rome. A writer and lecturer on Italian art and architecture , Russell brings to the text a lightness of touch and a level of erudition that is just right: knowledgeable but not too highbrow, so readers can appreciate his discussions even if they don't know a Caravaggio from a Raphael or a Bernini from a Michelangelo. He places the works in a historical context and reflects on the political and religious backgrounds of the cities and towns in which the works are located. Russell has his favorites and is not shy about expressing his preferences one way or the other ("No sightseer is unprejudiced," he confesses). Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the book is Russell's approach to the remarkable works on display here. Yes, he acknowledges the most famous ones, but he also directs visitors to many lesser-known pieces. His advice as to what and what not to see is also spot on and practical. ("Rome, it is said, was not built in a day. The visitor with less than a month on his hands … has to be selective.") As is made clear upfront, this is not a typical travel guide (you will find no opening hours of museums, for example) but rather a thoughtful and very idiosyncratic "tour" of Italy and its art. It includes a plethora of color photographs and concludes with a brief glossary of terms.' - Chicago Tribune
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