December 6, 2023 | Rome, Italy

The Panama Hat Trail

By |2018-03-21T18:29:08+01:00January 1st, 2008|Recent Reviews|

By Tom Miller

Vintage, 1986 (2001). 271 pages.


anama hats come from Ecuador, if you didn’t know. And Tom Miller, a former writer for the New York Times, is primed to tell you more about them and their country, Ecuador, than you ever thought possible. At its core, “The Panama Hat Trail” is a travelogue of Ecuador.

Miller plans his entertaining routes according to the production of a Panama hat. He goes from remote areas of the mountains, where they collect the straw for the hats, to forgotten towns on the coast, where entire generations weave that straw from morning to night. The book is filled with delightful anecdotes and advice: Don’t get on a bus whose windshield is plastered with decals of the Virgin Mary (or otherwise); buses fall off cliffs frequently for a reason. And eating a guinea pig, an Ecuadorian delicacy, is like eating a bony roasted rat pierced stem to sternum. Good stuff, even after all these years.

About the Author:

After graduating from the University of North Carolina with a degree in music composition, Matthew Fiorentino flew to Italy to have a look around. While attending language classes in Sorrento, he fell in love with his Italian teacher. Matt has an unhealthy obsession with Italian volcanoes (Stromboli is sick), late Beethoven, Salman Rushdie, Totó, Dante, and Sicilian cannoli. He now lives in Boston.