Time travel is one of those things in life that sounds better in theory than in reality. Disease, violence, hygiene, human rights—living in another era could be, well, nasty, brutish, and short. A worthier alternative: browsing our latest selection for our Just Booked series (our twice-monthly showcase for travel-related coffee-table books), Italy Around 1900: A Portait in Color by Giovanni Fanelli, Marc Walter, and Sabine Arqué and published by Taschen.
While its cities and villages may have been millenia old, at the turn of the century, Italy was still a new nation. This gigantic book is full of mesmerizing photochromes and prints transporting readers to the streets of the booming cities tourists love so much today. Narrow alleys lined with crumbling buildings are juxtaposed with the fashionable palaces and hotels springing up to service the wealthy of the industrial era. Horses and buggies (and trolley tracks), not cars, crowd the cobblestone streets. Fishermen and families work the banks of the Tiber. Remarkably little has changed in iconic museums like the Bargello, and the impeccably detailed portraits by Bronzino still hang in the Uffizi. But perhaps the most enjoyable are the pictures of Venice with its decaying decadent palaces and labyrinthian streets—free of tourist hordes and cruise ships looming in the horizon.
Italy Around 1900: A Portait in Color by Giovanni Fanelli, Marc Walter, and Sabine Arqué. Published by Taschen. ($200)