Audio art guide for travelers wins Best Books 2006 Award

November 21, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
Jane’s Smart Art Guide to Sta. Maria del Popolo in Rome wins USA Book News' Best Books 2006 Book Award in the Audiobook: Travel Guides category

Jane’s Smart Art Guide to Sta. Maria del Popolo in Rome immerses travelers in the historical context of the art, politics, culture and religion that have intertwined over centuries to create the unique character of this remarkable church. Jane offers insights for the curious of mind who want more than just the highlights about what they’re seeing.

Hidden behind the unassuming façade of this extraordinary art site is a trove of celebrated art treasures, unique architectural features, and layers of history. Sta. Maria del Popolo is packed with noteworthy architecture and art … from the 700-year-old icon adorning the altar … to the first dome of the Roman Renaissance … to the last Baroque tomb.

This fascinating church played a central role in Rome’s history by virtue of its location just inside the city’s principle north gate. Many prominent personalities figured in it’s story and commissioned important works of art to decorate their chapels.

In 1231, Pope Gregory IX installed a 12thC icon above the altar in the church. The same painting is still there today, but on a “new” altar, designed by Bernini 400 years later. Since then, dozens of others — popes and cardinals and prominent citizens – have sponsored restorations and decorations. In addition to numerous unique architectural features, there is a chapel with two Caravaggio paintings, and another with two sculptures by Bernini. There are 15thC frescoes by Pinturicchio and important work by Bregno, Bramante, Raphael and others.

Jane’s Smart Art Guides are for inquiring travelers who want more than just the highlights about what they’re seeing. Sure, you know that’s the Martyrdom of St Peter by Caravaggio, but what was it that made this painting so unique … and so controversial … in the early 17thC? You recognize his use of “chiaroscuro” – sharp light and deep shadow – but did you know that he may have adopted it as a tool to mask a lack of technical skill?

Created and narrated by Jane McIntosh, an experienced tour-guide, art expert and history buff, Jane’s Smart Art Guides include a “Slice of History” background segment to be listened to in advance, in addition to the on-site tour. A companion booklet provides track lists, floor plans, glossary, and tips to tailor the tour to individual interests and schedule.

The only equipment required is a portable audio player (CD, iPod or MP3) and earphones. Two people can share a player, using an “y-adapter” available at any electronics store, or from

The guides are available on CD or downloadable MP3, priced from $13.95 to $24.95, depending on format and tour length.

Jane’s Audio Guide to Sta. Maria del Popolo has also been named Travel Book of the Month by, for three consecutive months!

What People Are Saying

“I was really impressed by the ingenuity and the content of your guide to Santa Maria del Popolo. … an elegant and eloquent guide to a fascinating building.” Caroline P. Murphy, Author, The Pope’s Daughter

“Your guide to Sta. Maria del Popolo is fantastic. I have read everything I could find (in English) about this church, and I learned so much more during your tour. The information is easy to follow and tourist friendly. … such a wonderful resource. Your art guides will be highly recommended!”
Carol Stigger, Travel Journalist

“The Guide is laid out … to facilitate ease of use. It is well-written, very informative, and would be a great aid to the traveler who wants more information and historical background than they can readily find on site. … like bringing your art history professor to Italy with you, but it travels better. ”
Nicholas Wiedenhoeft,