I'm not a big fan of modern guide books. I usually have a couple with us on our travels, but I much prefer to read older accounts before we go. My favourite author is H.V. Morton. I have just finished reading A Traveller in Rome, first published in 1957. I have a copy of the 1960 printing in good condition, complete with dust jacket.
Here is his description of his co-habitants of the pensione where he lived early in his visit:
"Much the same kind of visitors drifted through my pensione. They were nearly all young and earnest, and few ever stayed more than two days. I would often say good-morning to Swiss, Danes, Germans and French, and good-evening to English, Spanish, Swedes and Americans. The place was in constant movement and in a week or so I was the oldest inhabitant. There were two thin-legged girls in brown shorts, who appeared one day with Australian flags stuck into immense packs whose size and weight would have driven a guardsman to mutiny. Bent double, they were walking through Italy on those thin legs, their vision confined to the earth. In the evening they had changed, most surprisingly, into fresh cotton frocks, and the next morning they had vanished."
I wish I could write that well.
Among many well-written and descriptive insights into Rome a half-century ago, I was thrilled to discover his account a 1950's-era Scavi Tour. We have it booked for September 3. In addition to contributing the historical background for our visit, Morton's description also provides a point of reference for what we can expect to see and experience. I can hardly wait