A travel book very much like its savory subject: ripe and emotional, a feast of scenery and tastes and opinions. Harrison, author of Visions of Glory--an exposâ€š of the Jehovah's Witnesses cult--and Off Center, has a reputation for conducting startling interviews where the subject is cornered into revealing uncomfortable truths. This travel diary across the Italian peninsula has the same confessional quality, with the spotlight this time turned upon herself. Calling her trip a ""journey of reconciliation,"" Harrison seeks to make peace with her memories of an unhappy divorce, middle-age, religion, and to perhaps reestablish connections with long-separated family members; the book is part spiritual pilgrimage, and Italy becomes the place for healing. Personal angst aside, Harrison also knows how to inform the reader about what she loves and abhors in Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and more unfamiliar places like Puglia and Calabria. Her observations are both recondite and gossipy, a many-layered commentary textured with a sense of history, folklore, food, fashion, architecture, literature, and politics. Each place she investigates develops its own personality to be embraced or ultimately rejected--like Venice, that ""mirror of water,"" which at first fascinates in its ""watery emancipations,"" but soon becomes overly theatrical and decadent. Harrison's favorite place? Rome, the city where ""the art of living"" is realized at its highest levels, ""where after six months one wishes never to leave it."" A good travel companion, enhancing even imaginary trips to that golden land.