by Ann S. Brandon
Every year, millions of tourists throng Italy, patiently standing in interminable lines to see the great museums of Venice, Florence, Rome, and other cities. Brandon, a former arts editor who lived in Rome for 20 years, asserts that in a year 2000 study, some 2.8 million Americans said they planned to visit Italy and 1.2 million said they wanted to explore less familiar sights. This guide is certainly intended for those who want to break away from the crowd and see the “hidden treasures” of Italy. Brandon points out that there are many seldom visited but highly important sights all across Italy, usually around the corner from the popular attractions, such as the Piazza and the Palazzo. While some feature works of great artists, the majority focus on unique, often ghoulish, subjects. In Florence, for example, the Museo della Storia e la Specola (a few feet away from the Pitti Palace) features a macabre collection of bones, muscles, tissues, and other flotsam of the human body, arranged into artistic representations. Packed with information rarely found in standard guides, this guide offers a fresh perspective on Italy’s art and as such deserves a place in all travel collections. Highly recommended.