When planning a trip to Italy,
where do you begin? Maybe with some print articles you’ve been saving for years? Or an online search? A book from a
travel club or an array of popular tourist guides? Advice from someone who has been there, from a travel agency, or a tour
Regardless of how and where you
start to plan your visit to Italy, make 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go part of your resources—even
if you are a man or traveling with the family. This handy guide provides a list of attractions in Italy that focus on a
female association, starting with the country itself. Susan writes, “Two divine females embody the essential spirit
of Italy.” Saint Mary and Venus.
Each place mentioned provides
a bit of behind-the-scenes information that gives the visitor a better understanding of its fascinating history. For instance,
“approximately eighty churches in the Eternal City are dedicated to Mary.” Among them Santa Maria and the Martyrs
church, a Roman Catholic Church since the seventh century that may not be too well known, unless it’s identified as
the Pantheon; and Santa Maria della Pace, built at the end of a cobblestone street. Across the Tiber River is Santa Maria
in Trastevere, “the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, built on a spot where it’s said oil spurted from the
ground and flowed the entire day Jesus was born.”
In the small village of Monterchi
(region of Tuscany), a Renaissance-era fresco of a pregnant Mary—Madonna del Parto—“is displayed
under glass in a sterile modern room in this museum that was once an elementary school.” The museum charges a fee, but
pregnant women are permitted free admission.
As for Venus: At the Museo Archeologico
Nazionale in Naples, the statue of Callipygian Venus (Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks) is “posed lifting up
her robe and turning to peek at her rear end. The statue is a Roman copy of the Greek Callipygian Aphrodite … that was
found in Syracuse, Sicily.” The Uffizi Gallery in Florence exhibits The Birth of Venus, painted by Botticelli
around 1485. The model is Simonetta Vespucci, wife of a relative of Amerigo Vespucci. “Simonetta was Botticelli’s
muse, the most adored woman in Florence, and his neighbor’s wife.” Botticelli died many years after his model,
and, at his request, he was buried near Simonetta in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence.
100 Places in Italy Every
Woman Should Go is divided into 13 sections, with each providing pertinent information and interesting facts relating
women to Italy. Visit the homes—villas and palaces—of noble ladies; tour the gardens, either designed by
or for a woman; stroll the beaches; relax at a spa; bike; hike; ski; eat; drink; cook; shop; learn a craft, or watch a performance.
The information provided in 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go is not exclusively for women. All the activities
can easily be shared with one other person—female or male—or a group. Additionally, tips on the best times to
visit attractions, if reservations are necessary, local eating places, supplementary reading, and websites to visit will enhance
The back pages offer a treat
with travel advice from several of Susan’s favorite writers, some special places to take children, how to attend or
have a wedding in Italy, ways to connect with ancestors, travel and packing tips, a calendar of female saints’ festivals,
resources, and an index.
Susan has been traveling to Italy
since 1976, but was initiated into Italian culture as a child through her maternal grandparents. From her travels throughout
Italy and her love of the Italian lifestyle, she offers a wonderful collection of places that appeal to a wide audience. Those
planning a visit to Italy will be perusing the book, and adding places to their itinerary; but if your trip to Italy is still
in the dreaming phrase, 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go will bring the dream a little closer.
Published: 2009; Travelers' Tales
Susan Van Allen
Review (My Far and Away Itineraries)
Review Posted: January 10, 2012