Five Favorite Books on Italy

I wrote this post about 10 favorite books on Italy and whether it was Four Seasons in Rome for the love of Rome or Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, each one was a unique pick. Today I’m adding a few more books based in Italy for your Italian wanderlust. Let’s make that list of pile never ending!!

Five Favorite Books on Italy

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster:

A Room with a View is a popular classic with a setup of two differently cultured countries – Italy and England.

The book is written in the early 20th century and explores the issues of caste, wealth, war and society.

It has a fun Edwardian backdrop and takes place mostly in the charming town of Florence. I don’t like the end as much but I still love it for everything related to Italy.

Venice by Jan Morris: 

I love Jan Morris and her style of writing. In Venice, she goes very deeply in the history of the city and takes the reader to the different calle (streets) of the serene city.

Even though it is not nearly a travel book, it is a superb introduction to the floating city. It almost makes you feel as if you are traveling with the author in the piazze and campi.

Venice ends in delight and is a great book based in Italy.

The Stone Boudoir by Theresa Maggio:

Anyone who is fascinated with Sicily like I am, will enjoy this book. I was quite surprised by my lack of knowledge of small provinces and towns of Sicily.

The Stone Boudoir is a biographical account of the author’s travels to her ancestors’ village in Sicily.

Maggio takes you to her Sicilian family in the backdrop of the Mafia, Sicilian food and conservative men. This book will make you yearn to visit Sicily because her descriptions are on spot.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes:

Don’t judge this book by the glossier version movie of the same name. Under the Tuscan Sun is an account of Mayes’ experience with life in Tuscany and I have a soft corner for it. Once you pick it up, you will find yourself longing to visit the Tuscan region lined with perfect cypress trees and long stretches of vineyards.

The descriptions of local life coupled with sumptuous plates of pasta make it a great read for books based in Italy.

It will remind you of summer and wine and Tuscany- all those things we travelers associate Italy with!

A Literary Tour of Italy by Tim Parks:

When I ordered this book, I assumed from the title that the author would take me all around Italy in places of literary importance. Quite the contrary in fact.

This book includs 23 essays written by Parks for the New York Review of Books. These essays are written on various Italian intellects from Collodi to Dante to Bassani to Tabucchi and Tim Parks gives his insights on them.

It turned out to be a unique approach to include his own essays and make it in a book. But I was expecting one on Italo Calvino! Nevertheless, bravo to Parks on all the research gone for the book.

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52 thoughts on “Five Favorite Books on Italy

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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”.

    1. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

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