Renaissance Italy provided some measure of security from wars and the ruling families increasingly built for themselves city palaces and country villas, of a magnificence not known elsewhere. With an informative text and almost 200 stunning photographs, perfectly reproduced, Georgina Masson has presented characteristic examples of architectural achievements of this period, from Luguria, Piedmont and Lombardy to the north, to Naples to the south. Each province is given its own introductory note on the history and leading figures -- the artists and architects and builders, and the great families that made the execution of their plans possible. Then follows notes on the plates. It is inevitable, perhaps, that these notes are separated from the photographs, necessitating shifting back and forth. But at least each group of photographs is kept together as a unit, and the corresponding text, printed on varying colors of paper, make quick reference feasible. Once having compassed the whole, Italian life of the period comes into being, and palaces and gardens, the greatest artists of the day, and perceptive glimpses of the personalities blend in a fascinating portrait of an era. Concise comments on the use to which the palaces are now put- and frequently the continued ownership of great families- brings the record down to the present.