I bought Art Towns in California for the purpose of ferreting out an artist-friendly (I am an author) place in which to live that would be new to me. I've oscillated between Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area since 1958. Not surprisingly, I concluded that I am a city kid--not a "colonizer." Although, say, Santa Monica or Santa Barbara could never be construed as small towns, most of the venues discussed in this book are bona fide non-big city.
In Art Towns in California Villani has compiled a well-organized user-friendly, accessible guide for tourists interested in fine art, experimental art, all types of music, performing arts, off-beat bookstores, et al. The locations are organized alphabetically from Arcata to Ventura. Each chapter opens with a capsule local history and succinct presentation of the area's ambiance and art scene.
Next, come the lists: Venues (e.g., galleries, museums, theaters), Events (e.g., festivals, concerts, plays), Slumber (hotels, motels, B&Bs, inns), and Sustenance (restaurants, cafes, coffee houses)--all are identified by name, accompanied by address, phone number, Web site, and a one-sentence description. Villani summarizes each chapter with short quotes from a couple of movers and shakers in the local art world.