Lidia Bastianich, the warm, engaging star of her own PBS cooking series, owns many renowned restaurants, has a line of food and kitchen products and leads epicurean tours of Italy. Her ever-popular cookbooks have invited us to her family table and explored the cuisine of Northern Italy and the Italian-American kitchen. Now, in Lidia's Italy, the companion volume to her new PBS series, she takes us to the 10 places in Italy she loves best and lets us sample her food favorites. We start where Lidia started, in Istria, a crossroads of many cultures, now part of Croatia. Lidia grew up here, then spent a few years in Trieste, our next destination. Both places intrigue with their unique blend of Slavic (sauerkraut with pork) and Italian (potato gnocchi) traditions. On to the north to eat fabulous beef in Barolo, radicchio trevisano and risotto with spinach. Heading south, we stop in Maremma, the other Tuscany, with its elegant, unusual dishes like pappardelle with long-cooked duck sugo. Rome shows off its lusty, bold flavors; Naples, its zesty pastas and divine desserts; Sicily, its savory seafood and sun-drenched produce; and Puglia, its faro and focaccia. Lidia's daughter, Tanya, is along, too, not for the ride, but to offer end-of-chapter guides to the cultural treasures and out-of-the-way sights in each area. A must-take trip.

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