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You've Pushed the Magic Button!

The single kind of e‑mail I enjoy most receiving from total strangers is the request for advice as you plan a trip. Who doesn't love giving advice?

But seriously, I find it very satisfying to help people avoid some horrible pitfall, or find the ideal location suited for their particular wants or needs; and for a few small parts of the world, my advice is usually very good. On the other hand, there are plenty of things I don't know, am not in the least embarrassed to admit it, and more often than not, will send you to someone who does know.

Finally, whatever I tell you, you know you don't have to go along with it: so fire away! I'll be glad to help.

The "maybe"?

Well, if you've poked around even a bit onsite, you'll realize that I'm the wrong person to ask about luxury villas for two couples with a jacuzzi and a butler; but mostly that I don't believe in going to see some big place in a day or two because it's famous, then moving on, having "done" it. What's more, if you're going to do that, you don't need any special advice: you'll be doing what millions of people do, and the obvious things, repeated by endless guidebooks, will be just fine for so very short a visit. So if you tell me you're planning on staying three days in Florence, and using one of them to do Assisi, Spoleto, and Perugia as a day trip, I'll almost certainly suggest you slow down and see where you are; judging from my e‑mail over what is now more than ten years, you in turn won't want to hear that: but it really does spring from a wish to help you maximize your hard-earned vacation trip.

My e‑mail address is
My e‑mail address is given here as an image. It is 'petworth' followed by the 'at'-sign, followed by 'penelope' then by 'uchicago.edu' 

As of February 1, 2013, you must include my name in the e‑mail address. If you do not, your e‑mail will be automatically deleted, and I will not even be aware that you sent it; nor will it be bounced back to you.

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Page updated: 11 Apr 07