Reviewers’ Corner

“Knopf Mapguides: The Italian Lakes” (2004, Knopf. ISBN 0375710442 — 48 pp., $8.95).

This is a small book containing but 48 foldout pages, including index pages, and measuring 5"x7".

It has six sections, one for each of the major lakes in northern Italy. Each section includes a brief overview of the specific lake region, offers about six restaurant suggestions and descriptions per region, describes several bars and shopping outlets and, more important to me, has an entry on local specialties of the region and where to find them.

The pages then fold open to a 4-page spread which includes a good map of the region (and several town plans). A caveat — the maps in this book are for those driving; there is no indication of rail lines or stations for those who might want to avoid frenetic Italian drivers.

Brief descriptions of the major sightseeing attractions plus small full-color photos of the attractions surround each map. At the end of this slim volume are recommendations and descriptions of hotels in the region.

I liked that Lago d’Orta, frequently ignored in other guidebooks, is included in this book. Most other guidebooks focus on the more “glamorous” lakes Maggiore, Lugano and Como. This book will help you decide if Lago d’Orta is of interest to you.

Does the format work?

I first used this publisher’s London guide on a recent visit and found the format worked very well. The maps are clear and of sufficient size to be easily legible. The attractions noted in the text are clearly identified on the maps. Although too large to fit into one’s shirt pocket (and just as well, otherwise the maps would be too small), the book is conveniently portable. The pages are on paper stock sufficiently heavy that they will last through a trip.

Is enough information provided?

This guide provides an overview and can help you decide where you want to go, but I don’t believe it is a sufficient stand-alone resource for most ITN travelers. It is, however, a good “take-along.”

I am going to the Italian Lakes in October 2005. This guidebook will be in my luggage.

— JAMES McGEE, Sun City, CA