Italy from a Backpack
Europe from a Backpack, 2006
Editors: Mark Pearson & Martin Westerman
Travel at Its Best!
Not Your Usual Travel Guide
Travel is something some people do to rest. Some use it as a mere diversion. Others do it to learn. Others do it
as a spiritual thing, a calling if you will. For them travel offers a connection to others like (and unlike) themselves.
Finding those connections - the ones that don't divide us - is an inspiration.
Italy from a Backpack is a book - actually part of a series of books - intended for those who are looking
for more than a great hotel or a fine place to dine or even for some untrodden back roads. It is a book about connecting
with other cultures in special and unusual ways. Because of that, it is also a book for those who don't travel but
would like to make similar connections, however secondhand they might be.
Editors Mark Pearson and Martin Waterman have put together an anthology of travelers' experiences. Their demands
were high. They chose stories beyond the glorious museum moment or the smell of baking scones (however delightful
experiences like these might be).
Many are stories that would be nearly impossible to experience (so they could later be told) by the
ten-cities-in-ten-days crowd. Even these same hurried and harried travelers will love these retold tales for they
recount encounters that they, too, might have had. If only... if only they had the leisure to travel another way.
My favorite contribution is "Between Naples and Memphis" by Abel G. Peņa. The title doesn't begin to do the
story justice. It recounts a deep love between a young man and his Italian host, a woman with expressive eyes who
happens to be three times his age. Those of us well past our 20s have lost our chance to experience anything like
Italy from a Backpack includes stories from Rome, from Florence, from Venice, Napoli. and more. We find
in its pages humor, love, silliness. The titles even call out to readers. Try "Gelato Girls," "Sneaking into St.
Peter's," and "Don't Grope the Pope" on as teasers and graduate to "Mirages," and "Art Appreciation."
I recognized none of these contributors' names. That is another reason I liked this book. It is proof that there
are fine writers (for this is a group that refuses to be defined by the narrow term travel writer) who are
little-known but have entertaining, well-written stories to share.