#BooksOnItaly: Contemporary and Travel

Italy based books are so popular on my blog that now my reading lists often consist ONLY of them. (no complaints there!) Today, I want to recommend a mixed bunch of books set in Italy from memoirs to coming of age novels.

Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson:

Believe it or not, even after many trips to Italy, I haven’t been to Naples. After reading this book (and the Elena Ferrante series) I realize how much the city has to offer.

Only in Naples is an honest account of the author’s journey and how she embraces life in a new place.

Having a strong connection to Italy like many Italophiles, Ms. Wilson describes her love life and Neopolitan mother in law in a cheeky and fun way that makes it a light beach read.

The author explains small acts of kindness that people do for her to make her settle in the new city and the glorious food she eats which genuinely made me fall in love with the story. The characters, mainly the mother-in-law, are also obvious choices. As in most memoirs, there are some things I didn’t relate to at all, so I’d just suggest to keep an open mind when you read. Let the city of Naples charm you with its people and forgot the author’s constant mention of her upper class status for a while.

Region: Campania

Venetian Blood by Christine Evelyn Volker:

It is very evident from the beginning of this novel how much the author loves Venice. She explains Venice as a historic city close to her heart with a ton of cultural and architectural references. You can almost guess the killer but you’ll have to wait almost at the end to know the hint.

The author uses the Italian language more than moderately in titles and sentences of the book. It is important to read the book at a leisurely pace because the book is unrushed.

The author talks about how small Venice is and how everyone knows everyone else in the city, how food is given paramount importance whether it is a bite of spezzatino or cicchetti or a glass of prosecco…..

Overall, a welcome change from the many romantic titles based in Venice. Personally, it should be read more for the cultural and historic aspects than the story. I really applaud the author for the effort and research gone into this book as she has made Venice seem more alive than ever.

Region: Veneto

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt:

If you are looking to delve into history and read about Italy 100 years back, this is the book to pick. I took ages to finish it (seriously!!) and almost gave up in the middle but kept going for some reason. The writing isn’t easy, well.. because this book was written aeons ago.

The author takes the reader back in time and tells everything possible on the Italian Renaissance in relation to Italian history, culture, art and science. He describes it by understanding the people and political hierarchy during those days.

Although it might sound very historic and boring but once you pick the book, it is interesting especially if you are into art and culture. The only downside is that it is written for his fellows so Burckhardt makes a lot of generalizations in the copy that are not comprehendable.

Region: Italy

I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti:

I am amazed by the different themes in Italian literature and this book speaks immensely of a coming of age theme. Not to give any spoilers, this novel is about the loss of childhood innocence.

With beautiful descriptions of Southern Italy and it’s countryside, the narration of the story is done by a 9 year old child.

This immediately encapsulated me even though the book is set in the year 1978. I love the simple style of writing and applaud the translator for doing such a great job. I watched the movie based of this book and thought they did an excellent job

Region: Southern Italy.

Buy these books here:


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28 thoughts on “#BooksOnItaly: Contemporary and Travel

  1. An interesting selection Ishita. Burckhardt is the father of Renaissance historians in the modern era and although a little wooden these days, and perhaps too reliant on Vasari;s ‘Lives..’ it is still a classic and one that Renaissance scholars still refer to, as the history of Renaissance history writing is a field in itself. I love the more modern approaches to this era which incorporate more sociology into the study, and aren’t so starry eyed about Humanism and Art.
    Must check out the others you have mentioned.

    1. Yep but all of them are diverse topics, Kaitlin. I loved Ammaniti’s book. Did you check my other recommendations I added in the past year? Please do 🙂 I would love to heat back. xx

  2. I like Baudolino by Umberto Eco! Historical but fantasy too. In fact Baudolino’s lies kind of are the truth, and in turn, ironically, that’s just the way the world is has been running all along. I had to laugh about the polenta and unicorn lines in that book, it just hits the nail on the head. I will take a look at your books. I am quite inclined towards historical books. Usualy tend to read about the Borgia the Medici and similar powerful families of the Renaissance. Thanks for sharing this Is guys. 🙂

    1. I haven’t read that one. In fact come to think of it I have only read one of his books (must remedy that) I love books on Medici and history too but there is a certain mood to read those. Do give Ross King’s books a try. Grazie!!

  3. Fantastic list Ishita. I am going to have to read Only in Naples now. One of my favorite (or favourite depending on your country of residence) books on life in Italy and travel is “Italian Neighbours” by Tim Parks.

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