ROME by Garwood and Hole is a 367-page guidebook from the LONELY PLANET series. The book is printed on dull paper, not glossy paper. There are plenty of decent-sized photographs, most of them 1/3 page size. The rear cover contains a multi-colored fold-out map (gray, green, red, purple, blue, black). The map shows Rome's downtown area, and one can easily detect sites of interest, such as the star-shaped grounds of CASTEL SANT ANGELO, PIAZZA NAVONA, PANTHEON, CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS, COLOSSEUM, BASILICA DEI SANTI APOSTOLI, and SPANISH STEPS. The map shows the location of many piazzas, chiesas (Italian for church), basilicas, and museos. The flip side of the map shows metro lines that lead from the suburbs to central Rome.
The guidebook has nine chapters (pages 56-218): (1) Ancient Rome; (2) CENTRO STORICO; (3) TRIDENTE, TREVI & QUIRINALE; (4) MONTI, ESQUILINO, & SAN LORENZO; (5) SAN GIOVANNI to TESTACCIO; (6) Southern Rome; (7) TRASTEVERE & GIANICOLO; (8) Vatican City; and (9) VILLA BORHESE & Northern Rome. Rather than jump immediately into detailed topics, this guidebook gently introduces the reader to the subject of Rome by way of several introductory sections (pages 1-55), with titles such as, Rome's Top 13; What's New; Need to Know; Top Itineraries; If You Like; Month By Month; With Kids; Eating; Drinking and Night Life; Entertainment; and Shopping.
A small map on page 3 provides a "big picture" of the organization of Rome, and we learn that the districts of Rome are called, CENTRO STORICA (the subject of the large fold-out map); Vatican City; Villa Borghese and northern Rome; Tridente; Ancient Rome; Monti; San Giovanni; and Southern Rome.
Regarding the photographs, we see ancient Colosseum (a time-exposure done at night) (page 6); Palatino (made of tan-colored brick) (pae 7); Museo e Galleria Borghese (a symmetrical white building housing works by Canova, Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian), Pantheon (interior photo of a huge dome with dozens of tourists milling about under the dome); St. Peter's Basilica (resembles Grand Central Station in New York City, except without nervous New Yorkers running to catch their train) (page 10); and a half-dozen other photos showing Capitoline Museums (the world's oldest museum) (page 12); Roman Forum (page 13); a photo of one of Rome's piazzas; Viterbo (a former city center in medieval times); and another piazza (page 14). Later on in the book, we see sculptures of philosophers (page 25), St.Peter's Basilica (page 29); another photo of Colosseum (page 58); another photo of Palatino, showing a crumbling wall that reeals the interior of a dome within the crumbled building (page 60); another photo of Pantheon, where the facade of an ancient building reads: MAGRIPPAIFCOSTERTIVM (page 75).
Further regarding the photographs, we see a large photo of a sculpture of a horse residing in a pond, and a sculpture of a map with a snake twisted about his leg (pages 84-85); and Spanish Steps (at the head of the steps is a building with two towers, each tower capped with a blue dome) (page 105); photo of interior of Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, with its multi-colored dome and multi-colored walls (page 130); Appian Way (cobblestone street built in 312 BC) (page 160); Roman Catacombs (subterranean burial site) (pages 162-163); ceiling of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere (the ceiling has compartments shaped in octagons, plus-signs, L-shaped arrows, and the letter B) (page 171)., St.Peter's Basilica at night, showing a football-shaped dome with an illuminated crown on top of the dome (page 184), interior of Vatican Museum, showing display of sculptures of horses and other animals, and of human figures (page 189), and last but not least, five photographs of the Sistine Chapel (pages 195-199). Also shown, are photos of works by Bernini, Canova, Carravaggio, and Titian, at Musee e Galleria Borghese (pages 210-211). Later on in this book, we see photos of the interior of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, showing a wall with an ornate relief sculpture flanking a large sculpture of a priest (page 285). There are also a couple of photographs of modern buildings (pages 286-287).
EXAMPLE OF ANECDOTES IN THE TEXT. Regarding the text, we read (page 79) about Piazza Pasquino, which is often called the "talking statue," because of the fact that, "in the 16th century, when dissent was forbidden, a tailor named Pasquino began sticking notes to the statue with satirical versus lampooning the church and aristocracy. Others joined in and soon there were talking stones all over town." (page 79) A couple of pages later, we read about another statue (Palazzo Spada) where there are conventional statues, but also a statue of a hedge (a lawn hedge), which was carved because the sculptor (Borromini) "didn't trust the gardeners to clip a real hedge precisely enough so he made one of stone" (page 81). As one can see, this guidebook contains intriguing and relevant anecdotes, which make the book as a whole, a lively read.
RESTAURANTS. In view of the fact that Rome was the center of the power and culture of the Western world, for so long, it is no surprise that this guidebook contains tons of information about palaces, museums, churches, and such, as well as information on the people who held administrative positions. But, as with all guidebooks, there is also info on restaurants, hotels, and transportation. We read, for example, that La Rossetta (phone 06 686 1002) serves, "scallops with cram of artichoke and mint" (page 89) We read that Trattoria Monti (phone 06 446 6573) serves, "sheep's cheese aged in caves, goose, swordfish, sultanas, and truffles" (page 138).
HOTELS. Regarding hotels, we learn that the recommended hotels in the district called, MONTI, ESQUILINO & SAN LORENZO, includes Villa Spalletti Trivelli (the rooms overlook the gardens of Quirinale); Hotel Duca D'Alba (the rooms have walls covered with fabric); Residenza Cellini (decor includes potted palms and oil paintings); and Albergo Giusti (this hotel is run by nuns. I guess that I should not be bringing my girlfriend to THIS PARTICULAR HOTEL!). The chapter on hotels (pages 236-248) contains a paragraph about each of 80 hotels.
WARNINGS. The book is to be commended for its honesty, and there are two pages that warn the tourist about pickpockets and gropers (pages 314-315). The guidebook also contains a chapter on history and demographics (pages 249-283), and we learn about various evil emperors and about recent political scandals.
CONCLUSION. The wealth of detail, intriguing facts, and anecdotes about history, will be an inspiration to all readers. My only complaint is that the photos are not on glossy paper.