Five Favorite Books on Italy

In November I wrote this post about 10 favorite books on Italy. Whether it was Four Seasons in Rome for the love of Caput Mundi or Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words for the love of Italian language, each one was different. Today I’m adding a few more to the list of books based in Italy for your never ending to be read pile:

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

I think this is a novel loved by many with a setup of two differently cultured countries – Italy and England. The book is written in early 20th century and explores the issues of caste, wealth, war and society with a fun Edwardian backdrop in the charming town of Florence. I don’t like the end as much but I still love it for everything related to Italy that has been described.

Buy the book here:

Region: Tuscany
Venice by Jan Morris: 
I love Jan Morris and her style of writing. In this book Venice, she goes very deeply in the history of the city and there is a certain melancholy as she takes the reader to different calle or streets of Venice. Even though it is not nearly a travel book, it is not boring and it also makes you feel you are traveling with her in the piazze and campi. It is a little bit of a chaotic trip through the city’s past but one that ends in delight and a great book based in Italy.

Region: Veneto
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The Stone Boudoir by Theresa Maggio:

Anyone who is fascinated with Sicily and it’s small towns will enjoy this book. I was quite surprised by my lack of knowledge of small provinces and towns of this part of Italy. 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, food and men. This book will make you yearn to visit Sicily.!! Her descriptions of the Sicilian people are on spot. What a fantastic book on Italy.

Region: Sicily
Buy the book here:

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. I have a soft corner for it. Once you pick it up, you will find yourself longing to visit the Tuscan region lined with perfectl 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……!

Region: Tuscany

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A Literary Tour of Italy by Tim Parks:

When I pre-ordered this book, I assumed from the title that the author would take me to various places of literary importance in Italy. From the South to the North maybe??However, it turned out to be quite different. This book includes 23 essays written by Parks for the New York Review of Books. These essays are written on Italian intellects from Collodi to Dante to Bassani to Tabucchi. Parks gives his insights on them and it is an interesting approach to include his own essays. But I was expecting one on Italo Calvino, a pity he missed him! All in all, a great collection and bravo to Parks on all the research gone for the book.
Region: Italy
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Have you read any of these??  Subscribe to my Newsletter to know more recommendations.

Related Reading:

Books on Italy: Contemporary and Travel
5 Books on Italy to Read this Spring
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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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