by Barbara Milo Ohrbach
In shops on 10 October

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I don’t know who this Barbara Milo Ohrbach woman is but I desperately want to be her.  She has written 22 books which basically focus on living it up.  Before this was the book “Dreaming of Tuscany,” which she references so many times in “Florence” that she might as well be directing you to the Amazon link (see above, Barbara, see above).  What she gives us in the new volume is essentially a travel guide that will only fit on your coffee table.  Breaking Florence down into chapters that look at history and art, shopping, gardens, restaurants, crafts and day trips, Ohrbach provides a list of what to do when we visit this remarkable city.  They are LONG lists, and she admits that it is too much to conquer for the casual visitor, but it’s certainly a good primer as long as the information stays fresh (I tried a couple of the websites and ultimately just resorted to Google).  For such a small town, there is lot of culture to conquer, and Ohrbach does a good job of laying it out for us.  In her first chapter, ‘Renaissance Jewel,’ she gives the run-down of all the firsts and remarkable achievements in humanities that have taken place within the walls of the city.  If you see a copy in a bookstore, just read this (page 21) and you’ll want to either hop the next flight to Italy or become an academic to study these wondrous works in-depth. Of course part of the culture is the food and there’s a section on the local flavors with a have-hearted offering of recipes (only four?) but that is forgiven because the publishing house that put this book out has a PHENOMENAL cookbook coming out later this month. “Dreaming of Florence” just skims the surface in terms of the city and its marvels, but really that’s all any book can do.  What comes next is a good dose of museum visits, a reading list (provided herein) and, obviously, just going to soak it all up in person.