Despite the attractive promise of its title, this is an episodic--a highly episodic--survey, at almost the young-adult level, of a few events, a few personalities, and a few themes, from the history of Italy in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is hardly, as the publisher claims, ""an account of the Renaissance."" Half of the book is devoted to subjects which are properly of the Middle Ages: Frederick II, Boniface VIII, the Sicilian Vespers, Dante, the Emperor Henry VII, and so forth. The Renaissance is covered only partly, and hurriedly, by brief chapters on Florentine and Medicean glory, on Venice, and on the Ferrara of the Este dynasty. For some reason, Naples, which had no noticeable role to play in the Renaissance, is also treated. Rome is surveyed briefly, but only up to and including the reign of Sixtus IV. In other words, the culmination of the entire Renaissance movement--the so-called High Renaissance--is omitted, and no mention is made of the Rome of Julius II and Leo X, of Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante. It was indeed a ""golden century""; but Gervaso and Montanelli have seen fit to omit the gold.