Another Review at MyShelf.Com

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 this.

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.

The Book

Pearson Venture Group
November 30, 2006
More at
NOTE: Rating 5 of 5

The Reviewer

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Reviewed 2007
NOTE: Reviewer Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the award-winning author of This is the Place, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't -the 2004 winner of USA Book News' Best Professional Book of the Year- and a recently published chapbook of poetry titled Tracings.
© 2006