Thursday, October 2, 2008

Roaming Adventures

Next Friday my little carry on bag and I will be flying into Rome to spend close to 10 days exploring the eternal city. I am excited and admittedly a bit overwhelmed by all there is to see just within the city’s boundaries. Luckily my close friend P and his entire family recently visited Rome and he had oodles and oodles of information to share. Of course I also scoured the online sites, the local Barnes & Nobles and the travel section at Strand Book Store.( ) for as much information as possible. I did overwhelm myself, but after looking through dozens of books the 3 pictured are the ones I would recommend to anyone, not only for Rome, but for any of the other major cities there are editions for.

DK’s Eyewitness Travel Top 10: Rome is an easy read. I borrowed it from the library before purchasing it from Amazon
The design is standard DK. It delivers information in simple and direct sound bits with enough details to remember because the information is highlighted and arranged for easy access. The front and back cover flaps fold out to maps, each offering a different way to explore the city. There is a map showing the districts of Rome, one for the bus route and a detailed map of the historic center. Don’t think you will have to switch off between the 3 because the book also comes with a fold out travel map of the entire city that is printed with an index of the street names and the top 10 tens lists that are explored in the book. The reader is first introduced to top 10 sites of Rome the city, followed by other overall top 10s for shopping, eating, socializing and general activities. The balance of the book explores the city district by district, offering in detail that area’s 10 top sites and activities, some of which are local favorites including, taverns, department stores, parks, markets, lodging and off the beaten track monuments and art galleries that many forgo in order to see the top 10 tourist attractions. As you can see from the picture I have color coded (Squint!) those things of interest, including the daily itinerary included for each district’s section.

The next is Knopf’s Map Guides Rome and it is a book of fold out maps (Squint!). I bought it from the Union Square Barns & Noble, but you can get it from Amazon for much less than what I paid for it.
Each map explores a district of the city. When folded in the top double page spread gives surprisingly detailed description of restaurants, cafes and social activities, including shopping, theatres, night clubs and bars in that area. The listings are coded to correspond to the fold out map’s grid and because the maps only cover a district they are easier to read that the ones in the DK book. The larger type and images offer a clearer view of the area to be explored and are highlighted at both top and bottom by small photos and descriptions of some of the major artistic and cultural points of interest in that quarter. There are more monuments, museums and tourist attractions on the maps themselves than what is highlighted by the accompanying text.

With the Knopf Map Guide, DK’s Top 10: Rome, and the map and print outs P shared I should be able to fill a small black Moleskine City Notebook: Rome with ease.
I bought my copy, see small open book standing upright(Squint!), at the Strand Book Store on 12th Street and Broadway. It wasn’t as inexpensive as what Amazon is selling it for, but I was able to paw through the sample copy to determine whether or not I wanted to buy it, which is sometimes worth the extra money. I adore journals and am smitten by this book. My only complaint is that it’s too small. At only 3.5” x 5.5” upright it’s chock full of possibility as long as I can control the size of my handwriting. It boasts a map of the city’s metro line, transport details and European measurement conversions, the city map is broken down district by district and there is an extensive street index that refers to pages it covers. There are lots of blank pages which allow you to record thoughts, make sketches, small ones of course, and note anything else worthy of a memory. The back of the book is divided into indexed sections much like an old fashioned telephone book. You are encouraged to record and label each section with any number of printed and blank labels included. There is more than enough room for addresses, recipes, wineries, stories, places, dreams, adventures, faces, encounters and purchases as well as museums, markets, galleries and of course, miscellaneous, just watch the size of that handwriting! The small pocket on the inside of the back cover is perfect for holding all the ticket stubs and business cards you will collect as you journey around the city. I know that a blank journal would have been fine, but this book is organized enough to journal with intent but flexible enough to give me the freedom to choose the memories I want to keep and maybe share.

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