Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Etruria: the perfect day-trip from Rome, with the perfect guidance

At the 16th-century "monster park" - Bomarzo, near Viterbo, in Etruria
We now have a ready answer to "What's a good day trip from Rome?" - and it's Etruria... so let us explain what that is and why we have picked it.

The day trip question is one we're often asked, and we often have multiple answers, depending... on whether one likes beaches or mountains, small towns or urban museums, a day without tourists or the hottest spot in a large town, etc.

The covers to Mary Jane Cryan's latest book on Etruria in Northern Lazio, for day trips from Rome
Our easy answer now for those who want an authentic Italian experience and no or minimal tourists:  Mary Jane Cryan's Etruria.  Etruria is the area north of Rome once inhabited by Etruscans, and others before them.  Cryan draws a line between the towns of Vetralla, Tarquinia and Tuscania to form what she calls the Etruscan Triangle - a stunning area.  She has done us all a huge favor by covering the area in the kind of detail and enchanting stories one rarely finds in travel guides - no doubt because she has lived in the area for more than 20 years, and in Italy more than 50.
One way to enjoy Tuscania  (and, it's in Lazio, not Tuscany) -
from the patio of a hotel on the "new" side of town, looking over to the old.

Lago (Lake) Bracciano and the eel-dominated (in a good way)
town of Anguillara Sabazia
Her most recent book, hot off the press, is Etruria: Storie e Segreti (Etruria - Stories [Histories] and Secrets), as of now, only in Italian.  For those of you who don't want to slug it out in Italian, she has several other guidebooks.  I hesitate to call them guidebooks, because they are so much more than that.  But guide you they will, through Etruria, and they will lead you to much more than what most people go for - the Etruscan sites.  Most accessible, for those who are looking for a day or two in the region, is Cryan's, Etruria: Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy.  You will find wonderful itinerary chapters, such as "Mysterious Sites of Northern Lazio," or "Connoisseur's Guide to Viterbo," as well as personal stories, such as "An Old Palazzo in Etruria - the sequel." 

Her other books about Northern Lazio are intriguing as well: Travels to Tuscany and Northern Lazio, Vetralla - the English Connection, and Affreschi - Exploring Etruria. All are based on her own, in-depth travels and original scholarship.  At least one of these books is a "must have" if you are traveling in this area - and you should travel in it, imo.

Mary Jane Cryan's info can lead you to Italian spas where
you will find no tourists.  She "takes the spa" at least weekly,
she says.  So she oughtta know!
Check out Cryan's in-depth Web site, for ordering the books if you're not in Rome.  In Rome they are available at the few remaining English language bookstores, including Anglo-American, on via delle Vite, and Almost Corner, in Trastevere.  Or most Feltrinelli's.  


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