THIRD EDITION: 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go (Travelers’ Tales)
“Women love Italy because Italy loves women,” says author Susan Van Allen, who has been traveling there for 40 years. “When you land in a country that’s been adoring the feminine since the earth was cooling, with all those goddesses and Madonnas surrounding you, something wonderful gets unleashed in us. We feel deeply valued for all that we are, and that opens women up to really enjoy the range of pleasures this beautiful country has to offer.”
100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go has inspired travelers since it first hit the stands in 2009. Under the Tuscan Sun author Frances Mayes wrote: “This book makes me want to pack my bag with the lightest of clothing and follow Van Allen’s alluring suggestions. She reveals an intimacy with Italy and a honed sense of adventure.”
The adventure began for Van Allen at a dining room table in Newark, New Jersey. Her maternal grandparents were immigrants from southern Italy, and it was at childhood Sunday dinners where she discovered “Italy’s big, delicious, loving heart.” Decades of Italian travel followed and she became “the girlfriend with the lists”-doling out advice to friends for their trips.
Formerly a writer for the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, Van Allen brings great entertainment to her 100 Places advice. With a wealth of fascinating details, she guides readers to places where women have been worshipped, (Diana’s temple in Sicily or Santa Maria Novella in Florence), and places where women lived and flourished, (Peggy Guggenheim’s museum in Venice, Isabelle d’Este’s Renaissance studiolo in Mantua).
There’s advice for her favorite gardens, beaches, and spas. Her sections on shopping and indulging taste buds come with hidden female backstories, including the rise of women-owned wineries in recent decades.
For those looking for immersion experiences, she offers cooking classes, (such as rolling pasta in Calabria), or hammering mosaics in Rome, as well as hiking and biking adventures and entertainments-from operas to puppet shows. Rounding out the book is delightful practical advice, including the encouragement to “flirt, but don’t take any of it seriously.”
Throughout, Van Allen is a fun-loving, savvy traveler girlfriend, whispering in readers’ ears-a voice that appeals to a range of moods and budgets, first time or twenty-first time visitors-drawing back the curtain to reveal 100-plus ways that Italy opens her heart to us.