Posted on November 7, 2011
As a rule of thumb, bubble gum pink and faux ostrich just can’t go wrong and Hg2’s latest Rome guide prescribes to this principle. The 200-page guide book shows off a beautiful aesthetic– gorgeous cover, convenient pocketability and easy-to-follow design/layout. A cursory flip through of Hg2 Rome gives an immediate understanding of its features and use, a fait accompli in the world of guide books where overflow of information often overwhelms understanding and readability.
After working on several guide books, I found the hardest part is not identifying material nor even writing it, but deciding how to share it. Like all cities, Rome has too much information which is then simplified into neighborhoods covering, slightly cumbersome if lost in a different chapter from where one is walking. Similar to its bookshelf counterparts, Hg2 preludes with neighborhood maps and overviews, but then dives into a larger compendium of information divided only by theme~ Sleep, Eat Drink, Snack, Party, Culture Shop, Play. Again, the alphabetical list of aforementioned topics makes Hg2 easy to use– a resource for meandering, instead of a how-to of telling where and how to walk around the city.
Writers Marta Falconi and Catherine McCormack obviously know the Eternal City. Their listings are well-researched– a passionate compilation of the city where they both have lived. Included are home town favorites (Tiepolo, 00100 Pizza and Necci, oh my!), slightly lesser known spots (MACRO– brave, ragazze!) and the usual suspects that charm tourists (Bar del Fico, The Keyhole and ‘Gusto). I happily noticed that they include several restaurants and en vogue spots in the San Lorenzo and Pigneto neighborhoods, which have become more recognized by the non-Italian visitor, but still less so in guide books. The pert descriptions are well written (sometimes with a snarky flair that made me want to thank the writers!) and accompanied by the necessary info– address, location, phone and hours. The double page is split with descriptions and complementing photos– again, easy to navigate.
My main concern was that some locations were too generalized with Centro Storico, Villa Borghese and Monti covering area far out of its true perimeters. Though it would be impossible and most likely confusing to the reader had the writers/editors ascribed each site to its specific neighborhood, it may prove equally confusing when a reader confuses the train station area with Monti or the Aventine with Centro Storico. I may suggest that Hg2 rehashes locations for its reprint.
Note: when buying any guide book/app, the hardest information to keep au courant is restaurant listings. Make sure to contact (phone, internet, concierge) desired restaurant prior to popping by.