UNTOURS: EUROPEAN VACATION PACKAGES
Independent Travel With Support Since 1975

The Untours Bookstore

Titles to help you make the most of your Untour, in conjunction with

It's a fact — the well-read traveler is well-prepared. He or she will likely encounter less stress and more fun while traveling when having read up on destinations in advance. Plus, cultural insight is likely to be deeper, since the well-read traveler knows what to look for!

Thus, we present The Untours Bookstore! We are proud to offer titles here which have been recommended by the Untour staff and Untourists. These books can be purchased directly through this website, with shipping and billing handled by Amazon. Just click on the titles which interest you.

We hope you like browsing our shop.

Choose your destination:

General Travel Aids | Austria | Holland| Budapest | Italy: Tuscany & Florence | Italy: Umbria
Italy: Rome | France: Paris | France: Alsace | France: Provence
Prague | Germany | Spain | Switzerland

Don't find what you need? Check back periodically, we will be continually adding new titles to this library.

Looking for novels that take place in the city or country you plan on visiting? Take a look at Packabook for suggestions.

General Travel

Neither Here Nor There; Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

Amazon's blurb is accurate enough: "Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies -- in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe's most diverting and historic locales."

Untours Blog reviews it, and highly recommends it here.

Austria

Blue Guide Vienna by Nicholas T. Parsons
The Blue Guide travel series is highly recommended by Untourists. The Vienna guide will show you why Vienna is a fascinating place to visit for anyone interested in urban history, architecture, and the arts.

Walking Easy in the Swiss and Austrian Alps; A Hiking Guide for Active Adults by Chet Lipton, Carolee Lipton (Contributor)
This is a summer hiking guidebook for recreational walkers and their families. The alpine setting is breathtaking and the book includes the use of cableways in order to reach some of the most fascinating mountain trails. Special base villages are chosen along with recommendations for chalet-hotels. If you love to walk and enjoy the outdoors, Walking Easy in the Swiss and Austrian Alps will provide a great hiking vacation.

Cheap Eats in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest : A Traveler's Guide to the Best-Kept Secrets by Sandra A. Gustafson
Explore the inexpensive places to dine when visiting any one of these three famous and historic European cities. 3 maps. " We used this book in all three cities and found it to be the most useful guide that we had to the cuisines of the regions. As a result we enjoyed many interesting and delicious meals and restaurants. Maps are most useful in locating the places."

Budapest

Budapest : A Critical Guide by Andras Torok
The author, president of Hungary's National Cultural Fund and a former dissident, has spent his life observing the Budapest scene. This book has been praised by the New York Times, and also comes recommended by our Hungarian on-site staff.

Cheap Eats in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest : A Traveler's Guide to the Best-Kept Secrets by Sandra A. Gustafson
Explore the inexpensive places to dine when visiting any one of these three famous and historic European cities. 3 maps. " We used this book in all three cities and found it to be the most useful guide that we had to the cuisines of the regions. As a result we enjoyed many interesting and delicious meals and restaurants. Maps are most useful in locating the places."

France: Paris

Metro Stop Paris: An Underground History of the City of Light by Gregor Dallas
A great guide to the city of Paris through it's history. 12 different stories that are linked by themes of births and deaths.

Writers In Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light by David Burke
David Burke follows the many writers who have called Paris their home.

The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White
First book in the Writer in the City Series, Edmund White observes Paris through the eyes of a flaneur, an aimless wandered or stroller.

Paris: The Biography of a City by Colin Jones
Moving from prehistoric tribal times through World Wards, Colin Jones sheds news light on the history of Paris.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway's vibrant portrait of Paris in the 1920s chronicles the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris in a bygone era, not mention offering readers a view of his life and the people that populated his expatriate world — Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and other literary luminaries.

Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City's 102 Best Restaurants by Alexander Lobrano
Lobrano, the European correspondent for Gourmet Magazine, reviews the restaurants in Paris running the gamut in price.

Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier
The author of one of our favorite Paris food blogs, Chocolate & Zucchini, reviews restaurants and cafes in Paris. Sure to include many off the beaten track recommendations.

France: Alsace

Touring In Wine Country: Alsace by Hubrecht Duijker
An in-depth look at the wines of the region with information on specific villages, giving perspectives on the wines but also the culture and traditions behind the making of the region's wines.

The Pâtissier: Recipes and Conversations from Alsace, France by Susan Lundquist
A book about cooking Alsatian cuisine that is both informative and entertaining.

The Wines of Alsace by Tom Stevenson and Julian Jeffs (Editor)
For Alsace wine enthusiasts this is a wonderful read, and provides all the pertinent facts about the region's copious wine offerings.

France: Provence

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Who hasn't dreamed, on a mundane Monday or frowzy Friday, of chucking it all in and packing off to the south of France? Provençal cookbooks and guidebooks entice with provocatively fresh salads and azure skies, but is it really all Côtes-du-Rhône and fleur-de-lis? Author Peter Mayle answers that question with wit, warmth, and wicked candor in A Year in Provence, the chronicle of his own foray into Provençal domesticity.

Markets of Provence: A Culinary Tour of Southern France by Dixon Long, Ruthanne Long, David Wakely (Photographer), Patricia Wells
Markets of Provence tours the open-air food markets of seven French towns while exploring the role of the market in Provencal life and providing travelers with dozens of insider tips. The authors present information on regional and seasonal specialties, wines, and restaurants and picnic spots.

Tour de Provence by Julian More
A spectacular pictorial journey through one of the most beautiful regions of France, featuring 100 color photos.

Germany

Germany and the Germans: The United Germany in the Mid-1990s by John Ardagh
A fascinating book on German culture. Ideal for those who want to deepen their understanding of the Germans prior to their Untour!

Holland

Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
"This little work aims to combine the instructive features of a book of travels with the interest of a domestic tale." -Mary Mapes Dodge

It’s hard to believe that the author of this children’s classic was an American who never actually set foot in Holland. Nevertheless, her lively imagination and attention to detail enabled her to write a lovely story that capture the feeling of life on the frozen canals, bringing the feeling of long-ago Holland to life. Best of all, it is set right in and around Leiden!

The Undutchables: A Observation of the Netherlands: Its Culture and Its Inhabitants by Colin White and Laurie Boucke
A sometimes cynical, sometimes comical observation of the Netherlands, its culture and its inhabitants, based on the authors’ experience of living there for a combined total of 22 years. We’ve been told that the Dutch not only find this book heartily amusing, but accurate as well!

Holland: The Rough Guide, Second Edition
"Authoritative and opinionated, this series can't be beat," extols the Chicago Tribune of the Rough Guide's lively collection of guidebooks, including their first-edition Holland manual. Looking beyond truckloads of tulips and wistful windmills, these three rough guiders--Dunford, Holland (he should know his stuff) and Lee--take you mucking through the mud to the Frisian Islands, biking to the Biesboschmuseum nature reserve, lurking around the fish houses of Urk, and gulping Gulpener beer in Gulpen.

The Backroads of Holland: Scenic Excursions by Bicycle, Car, Train, or Boat by Helen Colijn
Includes a wealth of general information about bicycling in Holland, as well as descriptions of scenic excursion and route maps.

Italy: Tuscany & Florence

An Italian Affair by Laura Frazier
When the author's husband leaves her, she goes to Ischia to nurse her wounds & discovers a number o wonderful things including, of course, love. Recommended by Untourist Whitmel Swain, and reviewed on the Untours Blog here.

The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings by R.W.B. Lewis
Lewis lived in Florence off and on for twenty years. He relates the stories behind the famous sites of Florence but also the hidden history that make it such a charming place to visit.

Florence: A Portrait by Michael Levey
Starting with the early Renaissance and continuing into the 19th century, the former director of London's National Gallery, focuses on art and architectural history, but with political context for each era he explores.

April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici by Lauro Martines
Florentine life dominated by politics and business rather than by the arts. An historical mystery in which one can follow the Renaissance plot to murder Lorenzo de Medici.

The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone
Irving Stone's classic biographical novel in which both the artist and the man are brought to life. Also a movie.

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
The story of Filippo Brunelleschi's revolutionary design for Florence's famous Duomo and all of the personal intrigue and political drama that went on behind the scenes as this Renaissance masterpiece was built.

Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide by Dario Castagno
Finally an Italian entry into the popular Tuscan memoir genre! A very funny collection of real stories from the front lines of Tuscan tourism.

Bel Vino, A Year of Sundrenched Pleasure among the Vines of Tuscany by Isabella Dusi
The follow-up to Isabella Dusi's popular Vanilla Beans and Brodo.

The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran
This is a wonderful story about Hollywood TV producer falling in love with Tuscany after his wife surprises him by buying a 300 year old farmhouse for them to restore in the region. His funny yet informative narritive tells his story of being seduced by the beauty and culture of Tuscany while simultaneously dealing with bureaucratic headaches and local nuances.

The Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbria by Jonathan Buckly, Tim Jepson and Mark Ellingham
We highly recommend this book which concentrates on the area in which Untours apartments are located.

Insight Compact Guide Tuscany
An in-depth view of the delights and idiosyncracies of the region and its culture.

Food Lover's Comp: Tuscany by Carla Capalbo
Going to Tuscany? Don't leave without Carla Capalbo's 'The Food Lover's Guide to Tuscany,' a 383-page paperback crammed with essential and fascinating information, not only on foods, but on restaurants, food markets, and festivals, artisan shops, and olive oil and wine producers. A chapter is devoted to each of the thirteen distinct sub-regions of Tuscany for which road maps, intended to help you plan your trip, are provided.

The Hill Towns of Italy by Richard Kauffman (Photographer), Carol Field
This classic volume is a glorious tribute to one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The Hill Towns of Italy, capturing in luminous photographs the special feeling of this region, will serve as an evocative memoir for those who have had the good fortune to visit the hill towns and as an irresistible lure for those who have not yet made the pilgrimage. 60+ full-color photos.

The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy
Classic travel narrative.

War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 by Iris Origo
This is an almost-daily record of how WWII affected a small farm in Tuscany, as the owner and tenant farmers watched and waited for the war to arrive at their doors. In the meantime, they coped and dealt with everyone else who arrived at their door--15 orphaned children, Fascist mayors, German troops, British prisoners of war, Italian partisans. All needed help and the Origo family gave what they could.

Within Tuscany: Reflections on a Time and Place by Matthew Spender
A British sculptor reflects on Tuscan culture.

Songbirds, Truffles, and Wolves: An American Naturalist in Italy by Gary Paul Nabhan
An esoteric account of an American naturalist’s walk from Florence to Assisi.

Vanilla Beans & Brodo: Real Life in the Hills of Tuscany by Isabella Dusi
Traditionally, foreign writers describing a country adopt the outsider's point of view and focus on the more quaint and amusing aspects of the locals' lives. This is particularly true of Italy, where the more exotic side of the country is maximised and the lives of people treated as being less important. Not so in Isabella Dusi's fascinating Vanilla Beans and Brodo which takes the radical (and fascinating) approach of dealing with the day-to-day lives of those who live in the beautiful Tuscan Hills. In fact, the book is subtitled Real Life in the Hills of Tuscany, and the author (who sold all she owned to travel halfway around the world and settle in the exquisite mountain eyrie of Montalcino) makes the descriptions of the seasons and countryside as evocative as one could wish, but her real subject is the people. Finding it initially difficult to be accepted into this close-knit wine community, she gradually wins their respect and friendship.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
In this memoir of her buying, renovating, and living in an abandoned villa in Tuscany, Frances Mayes reveals the sensual pleasure she found living in rural Italy, and the generous spirit she brought with her. She revels in the sunlight and the color, the long view of her valley, the warm homey architecture, the languor of the slow paced days, the vigor of working her garden, and the intimacy of her dealings with the locals.

Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes
Work's still not completely finished on Bramasole, the Tuscan house that California-based poet and bestselling author Frances Mayes bought a decade ago and has been fixing up every summer since. Nevertheless, in Bella Tuscany, she goes out--in search of Italy and Italian life. The sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun is awash with sensual discovery, from Sicilian markets with "rainbows of shining fish on ice" to the aqueous dream of Venice "shimmering in the diluted sunlight."

In Tuscany by Frances Mayes
Frances Mayes continues her love letter to Italy in this sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany. The restoration of her home, Bramasole, is complete, but Tuscany keeps unfolding. While the earlier books chronicled her and her husband's first years in Italy, this one is less full of stories than meditations on the elements of Tuscan pleasures, accompanied by photographs that give color to the place Mayes has described so lovingly and well.

Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria by James Ladsun, Pia Davis (Contributor), James Lasdun
Tuscany and Umbria are famous for both their glorious scenery and their superlative cuisines--could there be a more perfect vacation than walking through the countryside, stopping to dine along the way? In this book, the authors offer readers 40 itineraries ranging from half-day walks to routes stretching over several days.

Italy: Umbria

The Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbria by Jonathan Buckly, Tim Jepson and Mark Ellingham
We highly recommend this book which concentrates on the area in which Untours apartments are located.

Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria by James Ladsun, Pia Davis (Contributor), James Lasdun
Tuscany and Umbria are famous for both their glorious scenery and their superlative cuisines--could there be a more perfect vacation than walking through the countryside, stopping to dine along the way? In this book, the authors offer readers 40 itineraries ranging from half-day walks to routes stretching over several days.

Umbria, the Cadogan Guide
A very good basic guide to the region's sights and day trips, including good information on practical matters. This book thoughtfully captures the mood, culture and historical context of Umbria.

Authentic Umbria
Published by the Touring Club Italiano, this is a thorough and practical, straightforward guide to many of the region's best day trips and drives. A wonderful reference for any length of stay!

A Valley in Italy: The Many Seasons of a Villa in Umbria by Lisa St. Aubin De Teran
A novelist and her husband buy and restore an old castle in the Umbrian countryside and settle into the pleasing rhythms of their small Umbrian village.

The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis by Paul Sabatier
A historical retelling of the life of one of Italy's most popular and beloved saints.

My House in Umbria by William Trevor
The story of a mysterious former madam who runs a pensione in the Umbrian countryside, where she nurses the victims of a terrorist attack back to health while confronting her own past. (The HBO movie was based on this novel.)

Umbria: Italy's Timeless Heart by Paul Hoffman
A former chief of the New York Times Rome bureau takes his readers through the smallest villages and most beautiful towns in Umbria, sharing historical anecdotes, scenic description and practical travel information.

Ciao Italia in Umbria: Recipes and Reflections from the Heart of Italy by Mary Ann Esposito
Part cook book, part culinary tour of a region, this book celebrates the food culture of Umbria, exploring its produce markets, hidden truffle fields and vineyards. Full of stories, characters and plenty of recipes

Italy: Rome

Rick Steves' Rome
Steves does a great job of collecting up-to-date prices and details for museums and certain major sites, along with good advice on time budgeting, easy excursions and museums tours. His book is best for shorter stays.

The Rough Guide to Rome
Our favorite guide for its depth of information. If you want to be able to stumble into any church and flip to information about it, this is your book. Thorough, opinionated & full of history & context. Great for longer stays.

Rome (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Full of beautiful photos and illustrations, we love these glossy books for visual learning and trip preparation. But they are heavy to carry with you! A nice keepsake for pretrip planning and post trip sharing.

Rome Condensed, Lonely Planet
Not the most up-to-date edition, but a practical little guide book: compact and easy reference for the major sites, and it includes very good flap maps for the city, metro and bus routes. Great for shorter stays.

The Seasons of Rome by Paul Hoffmann
Former chief of the New York Times Rome Bureau, Paul Hofmann has lived in Rome for over 30 years. This insider's journal is full of history, gossip and humor.

As the Romans Do: An American Family's Italian Odyssey by Alan Epstein
An American reflects on life in modern Rome and the Romans' habits and passion for life.

When in Rome by Robert J. Hutchinson
An American writer goes in search of the the oddball stories of life in and around the Vatican. An irreverent and witty look at the capital of the Roman Catholic faith and all of its lore.

Prague

Cheap Eats in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest : A Traveler's Guide to the Best-Kept Secrets by Sandra A. Gustafson
Explore the inexpensive places to dine when visiting any one of these three famous and historic European cities. 3 maps. " We used this book in all three cities and found it to be the most useful guide that we had to the cuisines of the regions. As a result we enjoyed many interesting and delicious meals and restaurants. Maps are most useful in locating the places."

The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories by Franz Kafka, Joachim Neugroschel (Translator)
Kafka is the most renowned of Czech writers. If you haven't read his short stories (or if you haven't read them in a while), we highly recommend brushing up prior to your visit to Prague. With Kafka's perspective fresh in your mind, you'll find drama lurking in every corner in Prague!

The Good Soldier Svejk: and His Fortunes in the World War by Jaroslav Hasek
If you want to understand the Czech mindset (and especially the mindset of fictional national hero Svejk), read this novel! If Joseph Heller's sarcasm in Catch-22 had you rolling on the floor, and you're ready to do it again, read this novel! Set in Prague during the time of WWI, Svejk sets out to shirk his duties, infuriating everyone he encounters in the process. Hilarious book.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel by Milan Kundera
Renowned novel set in Prague during the Velvet Revolution (and ensuing Soviet crackdown). For many a traveler, this book has been the start of a love affair with Prague. See if you're next!

Spain

Iberia by James A. Michener
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL says: "Massive, beautiful...Unquestionably some of the best writing on Spain...The best that Mr. Michener has ever done on any subject...Stunning...Memorable."

Here, in the fresh, vivid prose that is James Michener's trademark, is the real Spain as he experiences it. He not only reveals the celebrated Spain of bullfights and warror kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards; he also shares the intimate, often hidden Spain he has come to know, where toiling peasants and their honest food, the salt of the shores and the oranges of the inland fields, the congeniality of living souls and the dark weight of history conspire to create a wild, contradictory, passionately beautiful land, the mystery called Iberia.

Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stuart
A witty account of the author's new life in southern Spain after he decides to buy a farmhouse there.

The Shadow of the Wind by Ruiz Zafon
European bestseller set in post-war Barcelona. The book even includes a walk to take following the plot of the story.

Homage to Barcelona by Colm Toibin
Follows the founding of Barcelona, its history and Catalonian nationalism.

The City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza
A bestseller in Spain, which follows the unscrupulous rise of fictional Onofre Bouvila from Catalan farmboy to movie mogul.

The Time of the Doves by Merce Rodoreda
Written by one of the most famous Catalan women writers, this novel explores the life and marriage of a young woman in civil war Barcelona.

Switzerland

Swiss Bernese Oberland : A Summer Guide With Specific Trips to the Mountains, Lakes and Villages by Philip Alspach, Loretta Alspach
A great resource full of suggested trips for the Swiss tourist.

We Borrowed Grandchildren for Swiss Vacation by Zoya B. Schmuter
A wonderful account of the Schmuter family's travels through Switzerland on an Untour.

A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain
In April 1878, Mark Twain and his family entourage sailed to Europe so Twain could write one of six books in his head. The trip turned into a walking tour of Europe, and this wonderful travelog is the result, filled with Twain's usual wit and insight. Recommended by many Untourists in particular due to Twain's comments on Switzerland.

The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer
This "prequel" to the bestselling "Seven Years in Tibet" covers the years immediately leading up to Harrer's Tibetan adventure, recounting the young climber's legendary ascent of the North Face of the Swiss Eiger. Recommended by several Untourists.

Why Switzerland? by Jonathan Steinberg
Why Switzerland?, first published in 1976, offers a unique analysis of the structures that make Switzerland work and provides a short, concise "working model" for the visitor or student.

Culture Smart! Switzerland: A Quick Guide to Customs & Etiquette by Kendall Maycock
Recommended even by the Swiss themselves! An insightful and humorous look at Swiss culture.

The Xenophobe's Guide to the Swiss by Paul Bilton
The Switzerland installment in this British series is a guide to understanding the Swiss that reveals a nation of people who are anything but the cuckoo clock-making, yodelling stereotypes generally portrayed. Billed as funny, insightful and true by Swiss readers and visitors to Switzerland alike.

Living and Working in Switzerland, 11th Edition: A Survival Handbook by David Hampshire
Written in an entertaining style with a touch of humor, Living and Working in Switzerland is designed to provide newcomers with the practical information necessary for a relatively trouble-free life.

Laughing Along with the Swiss by Paul Bilton
Hilarious look at the Swiss and Switzerland.

Switzerland in Its Diversity by Kummerly (editor)

The Surprising Wines of Switzerland by by John C. Sloan
Written for the neophyte and expert alike, John Sloan's comprehensive guide takes you to all corners of the country to discover producers, both large and small, of high quality Swiss wines, bringing a unique perspective to Swiss history, social structure and economic development. Packed with practical information about how and where to find recommended wines and wine makers, the book is a perfect companion for anyone interested in Switzerland, wine or travel.

Walking Easy in the Swiss and Austrian Alps; A Hiking Guide for Active Adults by Chet Lipton, Carolee Lipton (Contributor)
This is a summer hiking guidebook for recreational walkers and their families. The alpine setting is breathtaking and the book includes the use of cableways in order to reach some of the most fascinating mountain trails. Special base villages are chosen along with recommendations for chalet-hotels. If you love to walk and enjoy the outdoors, Walking Easy in the Swiss and Austrian Alps will provide a great hiking vacation.