An unusual travel guide to Lazio and southern Tuscany: "Etruria: Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy". There are very few guide books to Maremma written in English and so when a new one comes into print I am always keen to delve in and check them out.
This one is written by journalist Mary Jane Cryan who lives in Lazio and, although not a travel guide in the modern sense of the series of pocket handbooks you may be used to, is a treasure trove of information nonetheless and well worth a read.
Mary Jane's research has turned over stones for you and followed stories across countries that bring the history of old fountains, gardens, churches and ruined palaces alive.
The tales of many of which leave you wanting to know more and would readily make the beginnings of epic novels or costume drama films.
This book would make a perfect read whilst on your journey into Maremma and Lazio to help you see things and explore more of the history of this part of Italy than you might otherwise. As a traveller with Mary's book in hand, you will probably find yourself lingering longer than you had intended in order to round another corner and explore a legend or two some more on your own. And that I am sure would please her no end.
Alternatively, if a previous visit to Maremma and northern Lazio has ignited a desire to return, then this book will surprise you with the treasures you didn't know you had missed the first time!
The Etruria that Mary has explored as a local takes you south out of Tuscany and deep into northern Lazio, traversing the southern-most borders of Maremma Laziale into the Province of Roma (Rome).
... in Maremma
And, if you are a lover of frescoes, Mary has spotted them all, including many that still await study and identification of the artist.
Then this book is for you. Read of:
The last two chapters - the tale of an antique chair of hers and the restoration of her home - are oddly out of context from the rest of the book, but make for interesting reading nonetheless. The latter will make you weep and run a mile if you are considering purchasing an old Italian property to live in! Mary's words tell the nightmarish story of her palazzo so calmy, belying an experience that would have driven this woman "pazzo" (mad). I'll leave you to read it for yourself.
Although the index will take you to places (and people) you may be interested in, its isn't a travel guide book in the traditional sense in that it is a collection of Mary's essays and lectures. For suggestions of places to stay or eat, or train or bus schedules etc, you will need a The Rough Guide to Italy or Lonely Planet Italy (Country Travel Guide).
My only critcism of the book - and it is a minor one - is that the small scale of its one map of Lazio and southern Tuscany entitled "castles and towns of Etruria", with all of the places mentioned in its contents clearly marked, is such that the place names are unreadable. My suggested accompanyment would be the Touring Club Italiano Lazio Map or the Michelin Road Map.
Etruria: Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy by Mary Jane Cryan is priced at Euros 12,00 and is available directly from Mary Jane via her website at:
www.elegantetruria.com with discounts for multiple orders for schools, groups and book clubs.
Alternatively, the ebook can be purchased from the publishers www.edizioniarcheoares.it
Postage within Italy is free.
Explore some more...