Book: Italy out of Hand, A Capricious Tour by Barbara Hodgson
We are about to spend a whole week in Italy. Virtual Italy that is–through books.
Why? Because Americans love to go to Italy? Because plenty of literature exists to introduce us to Italy? Because several books on Italy sit on my library shelves? Well, all of the above and one more. At the end of this week, the predictably block-buster movie, Angels and Demons opens. I read the book long enough ago, that I have forgotten many of the details. I felt it was insubstantial, error-ridden and found it easy to solve the puzzle. But that does not stop me from being enthusiastic about the movie. I kind of like “shallow” in my movies.
Once you have seen the glorious locations in the city of Rome, you will cancel plans to visit Aunt Susie in Columbus, Ohio, and instead book the first plane to Italy. (Unless, of course you are one of my many Twitter buddies who have the good fortune to already BE in Italy.)
We start with the book the dog ate. Really, the resident pooch loved Italy Out of Hand so much that he chewed up the cover and the corners of some pages. Being a dog of impeccable taste, he picked Florence. However the words inside the book remain intact. And what words.
It is too bad that he ate the cover, because this book falls into that rarely published category of really attractively packaged words. Gold embossed words on the cover, lush with pictures in sepia, color or black and white. Author Barbara Hodgson dwells on details–some serious, some quite mad–just like the country. Her attention to detail is such that even the books typeface brings up a little story about a long-forgotten Italian.
Hodgson says “Exploring minutiae is a means of confronting a country that is too intricate and too inexplicable to tackle head on.” I’m sure that any travel writer who has tried capturing Italy, or even a part of it, is nodding in agreement.
Although I’m generally very methodical in my front to back reading of a book, this book invites diversions. Since it is arranged geographically, I delved into Florence, Venice and Rome before I went there three years ago and for days all my sentences started with “Did you know…..” So don’t get me started. Just go read. Then travel.
And I sincerely hope your dog does not get ahold of your book.
Photograph by Vera Marie Badertscher. All rights reserved.