Got back from Italy on Monday - 10 days of holiday split between self-catering in Tuscany (top-left/bottom-right) and a hotel in Bologna (top-right/bottom-left). The countryside reminded me quite a bit of England with rolling hills and a lot of green - we discovered why when we were trapped in the apartment for a couple of days due to massive rainstorms. Well, not exactly trapped but we got a lot of reading done. Finished "The Confusion" by Neal Stephenson which I loved and was one of those books that you really want to finish but don't want to end, at least there's there's another one in the trilogy to go. For those that don't know it's a fantastic mix of history, action, convoluted plotting, fiscal policy (!) and the history of science with a healthy dose of geek. And then read "Eating Up Italy" by Matthew Fort (see next entry).
Tuscany was a bit of a mixed bag - from the amazingly preserved frescoes and renaissance architecture of Siena to the many towers and too many tourists of San Gimignano. Bologna was my favourite - a university city (where Umberto Eco teaches) with a completely medieval centre, colonnaded streets and great food.
The Confusion - Neal Stephenson
Eating Up Italy - Matthew Fort