A few years ago when I wrote this post about 10 favorite books on Italy I received a lot of messages about continuing to write more posts about books set in Italy. One thing led to another and now I have a whole category about books set in Italy which I share on my website here and also on my Instagram page. And there are so many books set in Italy that it’s almost impossible to make just one list. (check more here) So here’s another list of five favorite books set in Italy that I hope you love and enjoy!
Five Favorite Books on Italy
1. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster:
A Room with a View is a popular classic set in both Italy and England.
The book is written in the early 20th Century and explores the issues of caste, wealth, war and society.
A Room With A View by E.M. Forster explores the Edwardian society and it’s rigid hierarchy. The problems of the English economic class are thoroughly explained, more so when an English woman travels to Florence, rather restrictively. This is a must read book set in Italy as the author paints a beautiful picture of Florence and the countryside. Although I didn’t quite like the how the book ended, it still has a lot of Italy to offer you.
Watch the Movie on Amazon Prime
2. Venice by Jan Morris:
Venice by Jan Morris is a deep historic and cultural aspect of the floating city.
The author takes the readers to the different calle (streets) of the serene city.
Jan Morris has a knack of bringing cities to life. Even though this book is not nearly a travelogue, it is a superb introduction to Venezia. I almost felt as if I’m walking in the piazze and campi with the author!
If you’re looking for a book set in Venice, pick this delightful read and enjoy the observations and descriptions. This is a another must read book based in Italy.
Also check Venice : Pure City by Peter Ackroyd
3. The Stone Boudoir by Theresa Maggio:
The Stone Boudoir is one of the most underrated books on Italy.
Theresa Maggio writes a biographical account of travels to her ancestral village in Sicily. She takes the readers on a journey to the island amid the setting of the unorganized Mafia, sumptuous Sicilian food and conservative men.
This book will make you yearn to visit Sicily because her descriptions are on spot! Plus there’s so much to explore in Sicily, especially seeing the small provinces in the region.
4. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes:
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a beautiful memoir of life in small town Tuscany.
It is an account of the author’s experience living in Italy that will also make you want to live in Italy. Under the Tuscan Sun was probably one of the first books about living in Italy.
With this novel set in Tuscany, you’ll virtually travel to Italy, longing for the countryside. After all there’s the perfect line of cypress trees and long stretches of vineyards that we all associate Tuscany with. The descriptions of local life coupled with sumptuous helpings of pasta makes it a great read.
PS- Don’t judge this book by the glossier movie of the same name.
5. A Literary Tour of Italy by Tim Parks:
A Literary Tour of Italy by Tim Parks is a unique literature on Italy.
When I ordered this book, I assumed from the title that the author would take me all around Italy to places of literary importance. But it turned out to be quite the contrary!
A Literary Tour of Italy is a collection of 23 essays written by Tim Parks for the New York Review of Books. These essays are written on several Italian intellectuals and authors such as Collodi, Dante, Bassani etc. An unusual book on Italy, A Literary Tour of Italy is a commendable effort by the prolific author Tim Parks.
All in all a wonderful book to own, although I was disappointed not to see a chapter on Italo Calvino!
- Castellammare di Stabia- between Naples and Sorrento
- Sfogliatelle calde Attanasio- a Neapolitan institution
- Ischia and The Story of a New Name
- Day trip to Procida from Naples
- 7 Reasons why you should give Naples a chance
There is no friend as loyal as a book.
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PeppertreechroniclesJuly 25, 2017 at 10:56 pm
Beautiful! Love your recommendations. Personally, I’d add Elena Ferrante’s books and also “Accabadora” by Michela Murgia…
IshitaJuly 26, 2017 at 10:19 am
You have to see my first list on 10 favorite books then 🙂 Because I added Ferrante there. I’ll check the other one
AngelaMay 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm
These are wonderful recommendations! I’ve also enjoyed several of Marlena DiBlasi’s books.
IshitaMay 11, 2017 at 5:38 pm
Thank you Angela..have a great evening xx
AngelaApril 27, 2018 at 11:44 pm
Ishta, add “Women in Sunlight,” Frances Mayes’ new novel, to your list. It is glorious!
IshitaApril 28, 2018 at 7:29 pm
Thank you Angela. I will 🙂 x
Andreas MoserMarch 25, 2017 at 8:26 pm
Here is my Italian reading list: – https://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/italy-reading-list – rather incomplete, but I am hoping to return to Italy and read more in the process.
IshitaMarch 25, 2017 at 8:36 pm
Very different and unique choices!!
YanaMarch 17, 2017 at 10:59 pm
Good recommendations! Thank you
IshitaMarch 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm
I’m glad you enjoyed 🙂
Brad NixonMarch 12, 2017 at 9:06 pm
I’ve read several of Tim Parks’ books, but I didn’t know about “A Literary Tour.” I’ll look it up. Grazie.
IshitaMarch 13, 2017 at 9:02 pm
Always welcome Brad. It came only about 2 yrs ago
Lora by LoraMarch 11, 2017 at 3:09 am
Can’t wait to get my hands on The Stone Boudoir. Definitely my cup of tea. Plus I have never been to Sicily, so that might be a good start.
Thanks for sharing. xx
IshitaMarch 13, 2017 at 9:01 pm
I think her descriptions are very powerful. gave me a strong pulll to return.
france55March 10, 2017 at 12:34 am
After visiting Italy, last fall, I just felt like reading about stories from Italy. I have read many books. I enjoy very much Bella Tuscany ( Frances Mayes). I read other books from Ferenc Mate and they were all good. I found the books at my public library. I will note the books you are mentioning here. Grazie
IshitaMarch 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
That is wonderful. It is a lot of fun to read about the country you are traveling in. Glad I could help. xo
jtaylor395March 4, 2017 at 12:51 am
I need to re-read A room with a view, I love that book. Great post!
IshitaMarch 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm
Thanks so much 🙂 yes it must be re read every few yrs
kindredsoulsinFebruary 23, 2017 at 3:48 pm
Whoa! This is a great resource, I am in love with Italy as a country. Looking forward to fall in love through these books, all over again!
IshitaFebruary 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm
Thank you so much, it really pumps me when I get appreciation. Happy reading!
Resh Susan @ The Book SatchelFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:30 pm
I have not read any of these. A room with a view is on my TBR though
IshitaFebruary 15, 2017 at 3:28 pm
I hope you watch and enjoy the movie too. Florence is gorgeous
Christina's CucinaFebruary 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm
Love the Beppe Severgini series! Thanks for the recommendation The Secrets of Rome. I’ll look forward to reading it.
fkasaraFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm
I’m glad I was useful ❤
IshitaFebruary 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm
🙂 fun exchanging titles
fkasaraFebruary 14, 2017 at 6:13 pm
A Room with a View ❤💕 A classic! ❤
I must confess I’ve never had the guts to read Under the Tuscan Sun, as the movie looked like it was full of cliches…for a native it’s not easy to accept a shallow depiction, you know :/ I hope the book is better than that movie.
If you are interested in non-fiction books by Italian authors, I would recommend “The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City” by Corrado Augias, which is like an historical walking tour in Rome. Every chapter is focused on a specific topic. Corrado Augias is a beloved Italian journalist, writer and host and he has a TV programme which is actually about books! He has written a lot of books about “the secrets” of various cities if you are interested (The secrets of Paris, Instanbul etc.)
If you want to read something about Italians and our paradoxes, I would definitely recommend Beppe Severgnini’s books: they give a witty, hilarious and (painfully) honest depiction of our behaviour. I think the most famous one is called “La Bella Figura”.
IshitaFebruary 15, 2017 at 3:29 pm
I have both of them in my TBR cara and thanks to you now I might buy them too. I understand about the shallow descriptions though. Trust me the book is so much better and nicer. the movie was so different and a bit cheap
Rotwein WandererFebruary 14, 2017 at 11:09 am
A Room with a View is beautiful….. Your passion to Italy reminded me of “In Other Words”, which I like a lot, but you had already mentioned!
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm
Thank you for stopping by. In Other Words seems to me like my story
FrancescaFebruary 14, 2017 at 4:02 am
A few old classics here. I might head straight to booko.com.au and order a copy of that Tim Parks book. Sounds like my cup of tea. Thanks Ishita.
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:39 am
I think it tottaly is. It took me a while to finish that book though. Cheers Francesca!
TanjaFebruary 13, 2017 at 11:50 pm
i only read Under the Tuscan sun and its sequel.
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:39 am
Nice. How was it?
TanjaFebruary 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm
derricodeniseFebruary 13, 2017 at 10:52 pm
My favorite Italy read is The Miracles of Santo Fico by D.L. Smith. I reread it every year! It is really special to me. I often stay up too late reading it so I can get to my favorite laugh out loud parts! I also love A Room with a View. Someone else mentioned In Other Words to me, too.
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:40 am
I am going to check this one out 🙂 In Other Words is for the people who are learning a new language and if its Italian then its a cherry on the cake.
Richard WillmsenFebruary 13, 2017 at 10:35 pm
Excellent selection! And thanks for reminding me to read the Lahiri book.
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:40 am
Thanks as always Richard. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Manja Mexi MovieFebruary 13, 2017 at 9:18 pm
I haven’t read any of these (only saw the film on Slovenian TV one night before moving to Tuscany), but I love it that you are doing these lists and I’ll be on the lookout for any of these. Let me add two books that are far from travel books but parts of them take place in Italy: there is a memorable scene with calcio and Madonna, I think in Anacapri, in “The PowerBook” by Jeanette Winterson. Oh, and there is magnificent “The Story of San Michele”, the memoir of the Swedish doctor Axel Munthe who built himself a villa in Capri.
IshitaFebruary 13, 2017 at 9:43 pm
Thanks for the recos 🙂 Winterson had come to Festivaletteratura last year. I will check her book and also the second one which sounds very interesting.
Manja Mexi MovieFebruary 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm
Ooooo. She is my favourite. I wrote her an open letter a while ago and tried sending it to her but never got any proof that she read it. It’s here if you are interested:
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:41 am
Wonderful and I am heading to the post now. Secretly hoping for you she read it 😉
DarleneFebruary 13, 2017 at 8:41 pm
A great selection. Love A Room With A View for all the reasons you do.
IshitaFebruary 13, 2017 at 8:45 pm
Thank you 🙂
Michelle WilliamsFebruary 13, 2017 at 8:08 pm
I enjoyed Under the Tuscan Sun for its amusement and escape, but A Room with a View is a truly beautiful piece of literature. I will have to check out the other three. Thanks.
IshitaFebruary 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm
True I also enjoyed the movie. Loive that era. Most welcome 🙂
Christina's CucinaFebruary 13, 2017 at 10:26 pm
I read the same two from this list. My sentiments exactly! I love reading books about Italy. So much so, I have a page on my website with a list of books I’ve read relating to Italy. If interested, you can check it out here: http://christinascucina.blog/services/.
Michelle WilliamsFebruary 14, 2017 at 12:15 am
IshitaFebruary 14, 2017 at 8:41 am
Oh that is lovely Christina 🙂 I am going to check it out right now. Cheers!
Stacy di Anna PollardFebruary 13, 2017 at 7:52 pm
I still haven’t read “In Other Words”, and I think it’s high time! Tim Parks’ book will go on my list too, loved his others. I think I need to re-visit The Stone Boudoir. Just finished Four Seasons in Rome and I’m still thinking about it!! As always, great recommendations. 🙂
IshitaFebruary 13, 2017 at 7:54 pm
Thanks a lot Stacy. You will LOVE In Other Words. I hope you can read it soon.