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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review - The Espresso Break by Barbara Zaragoza

Paperback:  299 pages
Genre:  Non-fiction, Travel Guide,
Publisher: Merchant's Press 2012
Source: From the author in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentences: Welcome to one of the oldest cities in the Western world - Naples, Italy. This insider's guide is a compilation of three years researching and travelling throughout the Campania region and a little beyond.
My opinion: Travel guide with a difference.

There is so much more within the pages of this travel guide to Naples than you would expect as it has a personal feel to it. I suspect that this is because much of the information contained within the pages, of unusual tours and hidden nooks of Naples appeared originally on the authors blog.  The author is an American Naval wife and freelance travel writer who during a three year posting to Naples explored the city and its environs writing about it on The Espresso Break which led to this book.

This guidebook is perfect for the armchair traveller, or to tuck in your bag on your trip to Naples whether you are a first time visitor or have been there many times before. I think you might find some hidden nooks that you did not know existed! I also agree with the author's own suggestion that this book makes an excellent introduction to the newly arrived ex-pat living in Naples as many of the articles will help one understand the cultural differences. Besides ideas for the tourist Barbara Zaragoza covers topics as diverse as food, shopping and the problems of rubbish and racism. It would also not have been complete without the section on Neapolitan espresso and its history, which gives the book its title. As well as the obvious sights, Vesuvius, Pompei and Herculaneum there are many other places covered. Which in my opinion means you cannot fail to find something of interest, with her tour ideas based on different themes, such as Ancient Rome, Grottoes or Odious Women. This guide will certainly be travelling with us on any future trips to Naples.

In conclusion an unusual travel guide for those of us that like to explore off the beaten track as well as the more obvious places. I personally feel that you learn a lot more about a place and its culture if you turn off the well beaten pathways and explore the nooks and crannies.

Author Profile

Barbara Zaragoza was raised in a small city outside of San Francisco. At eighteen she went to Washington D.C. where she studied International Relations at The American University while interning at Capitol Hill.  During that time, she also did a study abroad in Poland right when Communism was collapsing (1989-1990), which led her to go to Prague and work for the Institute of International Relations while Czechoslovakia was splitting. She then went on to do a graduate degree in Russian and East European Studies at Stanford University., followed by a Master’s degree at Harvard University with a focus on Polish contemporary history. During those same years, she fell in love and married a submariner with whom she has three daughters.  Her husband left submarines for a Navy medical career that has included two deployments (Afghanistan and GITMO). She has travelled to five continents and has studied somewhere around seven languages. In 2007 she moved to Naples, Italy for three years  in 2007. The family now live in San Diego, California, which they consider to be home.  
The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

I have posted this book review on LindyLouMac's Book Reviews but decided it should be shared here as well to reach a wider audience.
Do let me know, what you think of this idea? Last year there was interest in the reviews I posted for the   Italy in Books 2011 Reading Challenge


  1. Sounds like a very interesting book. I would love to see Italy someday in the future. It seems like that every time we have a bit of extra money we have to go to Brazil since that's where my mom is. However to visit Italy is always in my mind and such a book would help a lot. The author is a very accomplished lady. Thank you for the information about this book.

  2. Hi Lindy, what a nice book!
    I'm organizing a SWAP on my blog.
    If you'd like to jump in, just read the instructions...it's easy and funny!
    Buona serata

  3. wha t a beautiful book! I hope you are well, I read all your post but commenting so hard right now, I enjoy each and every word and the photos, well hey are always amazing!!!!

  4. Oh, I'd love this book. Thanks for the review. If the author would like me to review this or any of her other books on my blog as well, have her contact me.

  5. Dearest Lindy,

    Seems an interesting book to guide us to Naples.I have never been to those city. Wondering one day visit the famous city of Naples. Ex Kingdom of 'DUE SICILIE'. The prosperity land of Christianity culture,industry,agriculture,economy,people and so..on..even now days become vise verse..even though we still can see for sure the rest of the beauty.
    For sure this book will help us to find out the richness of NAPLES.

    have a good day

  6. I stayed with my daugher's friends in Aviano when they were stationed there and I saw so much more than if it had been a tour even though I had to share a bedroom with a three year old and five year old!

  7. Excellent, a very interesting travel guide. Greetings.

  8. I love this sort of book, Linda. It's so nice to be led away from the expected delights to the surprising treasures. :-)

  9. This book sounds like a little gem. I hope to visit Italy one day and this book seems like a perfect guide. Thanks for reviewing it, Linda :)

  10. It sounds interesting. I've never been to Naples (shame on me!).

  11. Sounds really intersting Linda

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

  12. This looks like my kind of guide! I love travel guides with a personal touch.

  13. This looks like a fantastic guide book! Thank you for the review LindyLou. I can only dream of going to Naples.


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