Travel Guides for Europe
Good travel guides help you plan your trip to Europe. I usually get a large travel guide for the whole country and use it to figure out where I want to go, then get guides for the specific areas I am going to.
There are endless online resources - travel websites, travel blogs, apps for your iPhone - but I think a printed guidebook is best for planning and traveling in Europe. They are written and edited by professional travel writers, all the information is in one place, you don't have to spend days organizing and printing out web pages. Supplement your travel knowledge with things you find on the web, but always get a guidebook for the area you are going to. (As a compromise between paper and digital, some printed guides are now available on the Kindle.)
Rick Steves Europe Video Clips (Free Podcast) - Short video clips about various European destinations taken from his Public Television series. They also produce printed guidebooks.
Simon Seeks - New online travel guides written by local experts.
Lonely Planet Europe - Online travel guides for European destinations with links to popular travel blog posts. They also produce printed guidebooks.
Rough Guides - Online travel guides. They also produce printed guidebooks.
My favorite series of guidebooks for Europe was Cadogan. The best authors in this series are Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls who wrote many of the Italy, France and Spain guides. Cadogan ownership has changed recently and future guides may not be as good as the current guides - so keep your old copies! Older guidebooks are fine - only the hotel and restaurant recommendations may have changed.
I also like The Rough Guides and Eyewitness (DK Travel). The Eyewitness guides are glossy with lots of photos, which is great for planning but not as great for carrying around (they are heavy). Cadogan and The Rough Guide books are light and you can easily tear out the pages for the places you plan to visit each day. (At the end of your trip your guidebook is a mess, but it is worth it to have less to carry around during the day.)
I don't like the new Footprint series of travel guides from Globe Pequot. They are a superficial look at a region.
Recommended Guidebooks for Italy
The Rough Guide - Italy, 2011 (available April 2011)
The Rough Guide - Rome, 2010
Cadogan - Rome and Central Italy, Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, 2009
Cadogan - Tuscany, Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, 2010
Cadogan - Umbria, Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, 2009
Eyewitness - Italy, DK Travel, 2011
Italy for the Gourmet Traveler, Fred Plotkin, 2010
Recommended Guidebooks for France
The Rough Guide - France, 2009 (available for the Kindle)
The Rough Guide - Paris, 2010
Cadogan - Provence, Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, 2009
Cadogan - The Dordogne, Lot & Bordeaux, Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, 2007
Cadogan - Gascony, the Pyrenees & Toulouse, Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, 2007
Recommended Guidebooks for the United Kingdom
The Rough Guide - London, 2010 (available for the Kindle)
Recommended Guidebooks for Spain
The Rough Guide - Spain, 2009 (available for the Kindle)
The Rough Guide - Barcelona, 2009 (available for the Kindle)