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Some More Favorite Books on Italy

Books are a wonderful way to know a country’s culture, habits and traditions. And what’s even better when its books about the Italian culture! The thirst to read books based in Italy doesn’t satiate, so continuing the trend is another list of some more favorite books on Italy. These fall under the “essential reading” category. Enjoy 🙂

Some More Favorite Books on Italy

1. Il Bel Centro by Michelle Damiani:

Michelle Damiani’s Il Bel Centro was the first memoir on Italy that I ever read.

I remember writing a long email to the author later, thanking her for beautifully capturing Italy. (I even cried when the book came to an end)

Il Bel Centro is the story of Michelle and her family spending a year in the town of Spello, Umbria. It is a glimpse of small town Italy. The book is a joy to read and is written in a way that one feels part of the author’s struggles, frustrations and victories. I was totally invested about the time Michelle and her family spent in Italy. 

Il Bel Centro is a great way understand life in a small town! It is a fantastic book on Italy, especially for those who are planning to move there. Travel enthusiasts in general will love this delightful escape to the hill town of Spello.

Buy the book here

2. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon:

It is impossible to mention books set in Venice and not think of Donna Leon. An American author in love with Venice, Donna Leon is globally known for her crime series starring Commissario Brunetti.

The author, having spent a considerable part of her life in the floating city, is head over heels in love with Venice. And that is quite evident from the first page of her describing the serene city. Donna Leon takes her readers to the back alleys of Venice with the empathetic Police Inspector- Brunetti.

Her books are filled with love for the most serene city in the world. Needless to say there is copious amount of Venetian food and prosecco along with interesting locals. 

Donna Leon always keeps her readers on toes with brunetti’s tumultuous Venetian life! After having read more than 15 novels from the Brunetti series, I can safely say that the very first book Death at La Fenice is by far my favorite book.

Donna Leon books are also a popular German TV series which you can check here.

Buy the books here

3. The Stones of Florence and Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy:

The Stones of Florence and Venice by Mary McCarthy is yet another unique book Italy and that too on two of the most wonderful Italian cities – Florence & Venice.

Mary McCarthy shares about her intense travels in the Italian cities and expresses about the people and art in both these cities. Her descriptions are amazing, one can feel the intensity and crowd of a piazza or the quietness of a small cold alley.

If you are acquainted with the two Italian cities, this book is an icing on the cake as you’re almost walking along with the author as she meanders through the cities. A well written and poignant piece, McCarthy’s views are a commemoration to the two cities.

This book was a thrift store find for me and I’m so glad to have found another gem on Italy.

Buy the book here

Read Next: Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd

4. Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best by Louise Fili & Lise Apatoff:

Anyone looking to know more about the Italian culture should get their hands on Italianissimo.

This handy 6 inch of a book covers topics on Italian culture. One can find everything from Italian art, architecture, ceramics, soccer, food, fashion, family, aperitivo, bars and festivals!

This handy book on La Bella Figura gives you a good enough understanding of the Italian way of life toppled with a little fun on the side. The co-author, Louise Fili, a popular graphic media designer shows visual essays on Italy in this tiny volume. Highly recommend! Also check Fili’s caligraphy and designs.

Buy the book here

5. Times New Roman by Martha Miller

Another fantastic memoir set in Italy is Times New Roman by Martha Miller. The book is the story of how the author and her husband move to Italy for 2 years.

Times New Roman is well-written and poignant.

It is a very unique story of two Americans living in Italy during the time of 9/11. This memoir is set in much simpler times (there was no Instagram or WhatsApp!) and is written with an authenticity that is hard to find. It is yet another book set in Italy that I highly recommend you to pick today.

Buy the book here

The Doors of Rome

Further Reading:

You may have the universe if I may have Italy.

giuseppe verdi

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47 Comments

  • Kaitlin McKenzie
    October 5, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    More great recommendations!!

    Reply
    • Ishita
      October 5, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      thank you! 🙂

      Reply
  • godwinsongs
    September 4, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks for tipping me off about some good books. My book about my year in Florence is now out. It’s called “Florence, Dante and Me.” See
    http://www.godwinbooks.com

    Reply
    • Ishita
      September 5, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Thanks for sharing..I’ll check it out

      Reply
  • apollard
    August 9, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I do read lots of Donna Leon but I am always quite shocked at how sexist they can be, the women are always beautiful before they are professionals or police or dead bodies…a bit like Camilleri!

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 9, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Yeah I noticed that too..Sigh!!

      Reply
  • gregsitaly
    August 7, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    You will keep me busy reading. I found Il Bel Centro is available as one of the Kindle Unlimited read for free books. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 8, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Yes it has been on the free list ever since I saw. I bought it though the year it came. Great choice and cheers!

      Reply
  • Scarlett | Petite Suitcase
    August 4, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    I like the sound of Il Bel Centro! I’d like to hear more about small town living. Have you read Beautiful Ruins? Someone recommended it to me this weekend, so I might pick up that one too!

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 5, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Its a good pick from the lot 🙂 I haven’t read that one but I don’t hear great reviews either. Let me know how you like it..xx

      Reply
  • shineabhi
    August 2, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    In my opinion we are born on this earth as a human, to learn every aspect of universe…. And literature (I mean books) are source of knowledge…. As more as, we will read we will be closer to our target or life goal..I loves book too….

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 2, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts. Books are life!

      Reply
  • Francesca
    August 2, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Hi Ishita, I always love your book posts. I have read all of Donna Leon’s books- the moment they come out every April. Her earlier works are much more enthralling than her later ones. I have also read Bel Centro as I stayed In Spello, Umbria for a time and was keen to read about someone who had stayed there longer. I finished the book, but at some point found it became quite annoying, as the author changed and became quite negative and self focused and dare I say, american centric. This annoyed me and spoiled what was otherwise a good book.
    I must look into Mary McCarthy’s book.

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 2, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Thank you dear Francesca. I need to read more of Donna Leon then 🙂 agree about the negativity to some extent but that’s what makes it very honest too. American centric is the case of all the books written by the American authors. And it’s hard to understand some things if you are not from there. Btw you must be excited for your upcoming trip!!

      Reply
      • Francesca
        August 2, 2017 at 12:49 pm

        I have read a vast amount of ‘traveller goes to Italy, buys a house and settles there’ literature. I have a library full of it and so when I say ‘American centric’, I do mean that this fact stands out in this particular book, and a feature that grates a little. Donna Leon, is also American, though a resident of Venice and a supporter of the arts there, mostly small ensembles. A discussion of literature involves a discussion of these ideas, the pros and cons of books, and so you must excuse me if I feel the need to debate these points you have raised.

        Reply
        • Ishita
          August 2, 2017 at 2:58 pm

          I have read those too and I know what you mean. Of course I have no problem if you stand to give out your opinion. I merely meant I can’t understand half the problems mentioned in these books as I myself am not from America. I am open to discussion always so you must not justify yourself.

          Reply
  • Francis
    August 2, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Thanks for this amazing reading list Ishita. Have already started it !

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 2, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Most welcome. I enjoy making these lists. More to come!!

      Reply
    • Ishita
      August 2, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Which one did you start??

      Reply
  • Angela
    August 1, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    This inspired me to go back and check your previous recommendations as well. I love the Brunetti and Montalbano series (book and TV), Frances Mayes’ first book, and almost anything Jan Morris has written. As an Italian-American, I adored Barbara Grizzutti-Harrison’s “Italian Days” and also some of Marlena DiBiasi’s books, particularly “That Summer in Sicily.” Thanks so much for the great recommendations!

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 2, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Thanks for reading the older recommendations too 🙂 so cool how many people love Jan Morris! I’ll check Italian days too. I couldn’t connect with Marlena’s writing in The Umbrian Supper club (I think that’s the name) I had to leave the book after 30-40 odd pages. Will check the one you mentioned

      Reply
      • Angela
        August 2, 2017 at 5:19 pm

        I agree on most of her other books!

        Reply
    • Francesca
      August 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Marlena de Blasi’s books, all of them are fabulous. A great writer.

      Reply
      • Ishita
        August 2, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        Never liked her Umbrian Supper Club and don’t know if I would venture to read her other novels yet

        Reply
        • Francesca
          August 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm

          Yes, the Umbrian Supper Club was a bit overworked and not as good as her others.

          Reply
          • Ishita
            August 2, 2017 at 6:56 pm

            Have you done book posts on your blog?? I don’t remember but maybe I missed.

            Reply
            • Francesca
              August 2, 2017 at 8:22 pm

              No Ishita, not for a while. I have so many to catch up on, but am now travelling.

              Reply
              • Ishita
                August 2, 2017 at 10:40 pm

                Buon viaggio cara..

  • amindfultravellerblog
    August 1, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I have never heard of these books Ishita. But I will look into the Venetian one. Sounds intriguing. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks I hope you enjoy it.

      Reply
  • jazzulka
    August 1, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I won this one- Italianissimo by Louise Fili and Lise Apatoff- fun read. Thank you for the list.

    Reply
    • jazzulka
      August 1, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      I own this one- Italianissimo by Louise Fili and Lise Apatoff- fun read. Thank you for the list.

      Reply
      • Ishita
        August 1, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        I love making these lists. It is a good way to get more recommendations too

        Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      How cool!

      Reply
  • Kelly
    August 1, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I can’t wait to get my hands on these books! Especially Death at La Fenice since I’ve spent so much time in Venice 😉

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this the most. Also Il bel centro because of Italian language and small town life

      Reply
  • Questa Dolce Vita (@questadolcevita)
    August 1, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Haven’t read Il Bel Centro but it sounds really good! I know it’s not about Italy or Italian but I just ordered “When in French: Love in a Second Language”, I’ve heard good things about it and I’m always interested in how languages interact with each other and how it enriches or changes relationships 🙂

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      You will love it. I emailed the author later and we became Twitter pals 🙂 checking your book now. I’m in awe of your Italian language skills.

      Reply
  • Lisa
    August 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Have not read any of these but am glad to know of them.

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Happy reading Lisa

      Reply
  • discovermarche
    August 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I was looking for a very original gift to get for my American friend. Now I know what to buy. Thank you mia cara!

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Aww most welcome. Hope she likes the books

      Reply
  • Sudhir Chauhan
    August 1, 2017 at 11:25 am

    good selection……. nice review…..

    Reply
  • sunnydaysinseattle
    August 1, 2017 at 10:26 am

    This is an outstanding reading list. I’m checking my local library for each and every one of them now. Thank you so much!!!

    Reply
    • Ishita
      August 1, 2017 at 11:21 am

      So happy!! 🙂 Buon lettura 😍

      Reply

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