Guidebooks are like your wallet, credit cards, or passport – they are essential things that you just should not leave home without!
One of my favorite guidebooks is National Geographic Traveler Rome, a very well laid out guidebook that explores the city not only chronologically but also geographically and presents some beautiful photos of the city as well as generous maps and diagrams of various places in and around Rome. It’s not in its third edition and contains substantial re-writes and updates from the second edition.
If this is a first time visit to Rome, then this is the guide for you – it takes you through Rome piece by piece, page by page, and gives the reader a good layout of the city as well as suggestions for tours and walks. One of the best ways to see Rome is definitely on foot, and I wouldn’t recommend that you see Rome any other way.
The first chapter, entitled Charting Your Rome, has useful information about the book and how you should fashion your trip to Rome with information about the highlights of things to see and do, especially if your stay is a short one. Beyond that, the book carves up Rome in easy to swallow pieces and concludes with a chapter on things to do outside the walls (fuori le mura), excursions outside Rome (this is the weakest and most disappointing section of the book, but I won’t hold it against them) and a Travelwise section full of useful information and phone numbers, lists of national holidays, a small glossary of Italian words and more. If you’ve never been to Italy or Rome before, make sure that you make a pass or two through this final chapter of the book to familiarize yourself with necessary practical information for your trip.
Remember, guidebooks are simply that — guides. They are there to advise and help, but don’t let them make decisions for you and don’t be afraid to disregard their suggestions and advice if you don’t like what they have to tell you. Follow your own judgment, heart and mind as you travel through Rome. Once you reach Rome, you may find that your desire to see and/or do certain things will change. Just be flexible and patient…but most of all — relax and enjoy your trip to the Eternal City!