Thursday, November 29, 2012

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.

Author's Official Website     Barbara Zaragoza - Amazon Profile     Naples Guide

I will also be sharing this review on  News From Italy


  1. Replies
    1. It was a pleasure to read and will be going on our next trip to Naples with us.

  2. I'll look forward to finding out what sights you saw!! There's a lot I already wish I could add to the book. Saluti, Linda!!!

    1. It may be some time, but the book has a permanent home on our Italy bookshelf.

  3. :) Thank you for this Lindy! :)

    1. I am delighted you found it interesting Divenita.

  4. Hello Lindylou,
    just the title of this book would make me want to buy it. It sounds just up my alley. I have been to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, but we just flew in and out of Naples, and didn't see any of it sadly.Thanks for bringing it to my attention, love Linda x


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