Another take on Italy

For those searching for an off-the-beaten path experience comes Thames & Hudson’s “New Map” series by “Hip Hotels” series author Herbert Ypma. First up is “New Map Italy” ($39.95, 352 pages), which takes you to the Italia you only thought you knew. 

For example, did you know that Naples — also known as the Greater Greece outpost, Neapolis — was ancient Rome’s favorite Greek city? This crucial port was where the patricians’ summer villas flourished — along with the Greek language long after the Romans assumed power — because it was “chic to be Greek.” You’ll find out more in Naples’ Museo Archeologico Nazionale, which contains the remains of volcano-destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum’s ashen day — frescoed walls, floor mosaics, busts, statues and tableware — along with the fine and decorative arts that defined imperial Rome.

In Matera, Ypma takes you to the city that is often the Hollywood stand-in for ancient Jerusalem, as “King David” (1985), starring Richard Gere, and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) were among the features filmed amid its clustered, teeming hillsides.

Then when in Rome, eat gelato the way the Romans do, at Quinto, on Via di Tor Millina, which has been serving homemade ice cream for a hundred years.

This is a very specific book with a very specific viewpoint. Many of the small photographs are unidentified. But Ypma shows us an Italy we may have overlooked or one we have seen but through fresh eyes.

We can’t wait to see where he takes us next.

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