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The four tours were terrific. I loaded them into my iPod, and my wife and I each listened through one of the ear buds as we slowly strolled, arm and arm through Florence.
The author sprinkles some interesting history and folklore into each tour. Be sure to take copies of the accompanying maps, to help navigate through some of the trickier routes.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
I've done 3 of the "Walk and Talk" series -- Rome, Venice, and Florence -- and they were my favorite part of my trip to Italy. You get such a great sense of the city and how people lived.
The subject matter emphasizes architecture and location history, which I happen to love. It's not dry; the narrators share tons of interesting details about art, archways, street names, neighborhoods, and awesome miscellanea you'd never otherwise notice
Each title has 4 walks for that city, each with a 45-minute audio track that takes you on a walk they say lasts 2 hours. I found each took me about 75-90 minutes, with the talking speed at 1.5x. But you can also take it slow and hop in and out of shops along the way, too.
If you use these on your trip, here are some tips:
1. You often need to enter buildings, so take the walks between 9am-12pm or 2-5pm. Many churches and museums are closed outside of these hours. (Better yet, check the hours of the main sites ahead of time; some museums are closed on Mondays, for instance.)
2. Print the associated PDF maps, 1 for each person in your group. It's nigh impossible to follow the directions without them.
3. If you have a few days in Rome/Venice/Florence, consider doing the walks first to get a sense of the city and to help you decide which sights you want to see. You get recommendations about special restaurants to check out, local stores, or out-of-the-way museums to visit. However, if you're only in one of these cities for a day or two, you might want to just head right to the main attractions.
4. Be prepared to spend 2 to 8 euros to enter each of the various churches and museums along the walk; these are always worth it, and usually don't take more than 10-to-30 minutes to see each.
5. I found that a familiarity with Italian history -- specifically Florentine, Venetian, and Roman history -- was helpful in putting some of the factoids in context. The Great Courses series "Italians Before Italy" has great lectures about these cities' history.
Though the content is from 2006 or earlier, it was 95% accurate. Occasionally a store or restaurant mentioned wouldn't be there, or a museum has re-arranged its exhibits, but otherwise no issue. No surprise, I guess; these cities have stayed largely the same for 400+ years, so what's an extra decade?
Each walk is about 5,000-10,000 steps (according to my pedometer), so it's a good workout.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful