Top Three Books Set in Italy

There’s always a lot to read on Italy, books on Italy travel, art, food and culture. Last year I read 17 books based in Italy, 3 of which totally stood out for me. These top three books set in Italy are Cucina Tipica by Andrew Cotto, The Other Side of the Tiber by Wallis Menozzi and Fleeting Rome by Carlo Levi. 

Top Three Books Set in Italy

1. Cucina Tipica by Andrew Cotto

Cucina Tipica is a fast paced story set in Italy and centers on the tumultuous life of protagonist Jacoby. Finding his roots among a plethora of olives and vastness of cypresses, Jacoby’s stay in a Tuscan barn pushes him to seek more. Cucina Tipica is Jacoby’s story of self discovery and the unexpected friends he makes along the way. The book is predictable in parts but lovable with the looming beauty of Italy. The author makes two female characters stand out despite having very tiny roles in the book. Thanks to the book, I’m now getting back to listening to Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam and want to also explore more of Tuscany, especially towns like Panzano, Volpaia and Cortona.

The book includes a fair share of the Italian language that will transport you to the real Italy. There were many passages where I got excited and felt, “oh that happens to me too!”


Cucina Tipica

I should add that there is a sufficient amount of sexuality and swearing in the book. The author constantly ponders over life’s questionable relationships along with ridiculous work systems and arrogant bosses.

Buy Cucina Tipica – Amazon India

Buy Cucina Tipica- Amazon Global

2. The Other Side of the Tiber: Reflections on Time in Italy by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi

The Other Side of the Tiber, written by Wallis Wilde Menozzi, is a beautiful memoir set in Rome. The book focuses on Wallis’s chaotic time introspecting life in the city after a failed marriage. The author’s incredible story telling and unique observations of the Eternal City are absolutely on point. Even though there are times when the passages are wordy and complicated, her complex attention to Italy’s many layers will make you think. The author has done a great job in capturing memories of Rome from a time long gone.

Although Wallis’s words give itchy feet, they also show Italy with its flaws. The memoir covers a range of subjects namely- politics, religion, art (specifically lengthy prose on Caravaggio and Bernini), fascism and lack of feminism coupled with reflections near the river Tiber. So you can imagine, this book is seeing Rome through rose tinted glasses yet quite the opposite! Highly recommend it to anyone wanting to read a more honest account of Italy’s past.


The Other Side of the Tiber

I found this book in Parma’s Feltrinelli bookstore and later found out that the author lives in the city 🙂

Buy The Other Side of the Tiber- Amazon India

Buy The Other Side of the Tiber- Amazon Global

3. Fleeting Rome by Carlo Levi

When it comes to Carlo Levi, his book “Christ Stopped at Eboli” bags most of the credit. Fleeting Rome is an underrated memoir by the author. It is raw and magnificent and almost feels as if you’re walking in Rome with the author! Written immediately after the Second World War, the book captures rare and vivid observations of the city, from it’s piazze and fontane to its small vicoli and big markets. Don’t be put off by the subtitle “In Search of La Dolce Vita” because Levi’s evocative prose will do the right justice to the Eternal City! That being said, Fleeting Rome will resonate more with those who have either lived in Rome or traveled at some point.


Fleeting Rome

Buy Fleeting Rome- Amazon India

Buy Fleeting Rome- Amazon Global

Over to you.. Have you read any of these??


Read Next:

“On the other side of the lot, beyond the corroding replica of “David” that fronted the piazza named after his creator, lay the city of Florence, a spooned circle of terra cotta and stone and pastel, split horizontally by the nearby River Arno and surrounded by verdant hills like a lush hood framing the face of a movie star”.

andrew cotto in cucina tipica
Credits: Jeff Ackley


  • […] Italophiles have with each othe, one that stems from a common yet exceedingly high love for Italy. This friendship now extends to Cucina Romana: Andrew Cotto’s newest Italian adventure. Another […]

  • Miguel Pérez Martínez
    December 14, 2020 at 4:46 am

    Thanks for all the recommendations, very interesting list. I did not know Fleeting Rome by Carlo Levi and it is a book that I will surely enjoy a lot. I’m both interested in the city and in that historical period.

    Thanks again, I love your blog 🙂


    • Italophilia
      December 15, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      So pleased that you love the blog, Miguel! Hope you enjoy the books too. Happy reading and Merry X’mas.

  • Elyssa Bernard
    August 18, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, Ishita, you’ve done it again! I am thrilled with these suggestions and will check them all out. I love getting real, first-hand recommendations from another Italophile like you! And your descriptions are so fresh and clearly your own that it makes me trust your advice. Thank you again for all your hard work and for always keeping it real!

    • Italophilia
      August 18, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      Thank you, Elyssa! So kind of you to say that. I think you’ll LOVE The Other Side of the Tiber. It’s so real and so Rome! And yes, just trying to brighten the Italophile universe 😉 So pleased you love this list!

  • […] 3 Books On Italy You Should Be Reading […]

  • Manja Mexi
    January 31, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Ohh, Ishita, thank you so much for these three titles, I wish to read them all immediately! Especially the first one: Italy, Tuscany, to be precise, and Pearl Jam in the same novel and I haven’t even heard of it!! Neither of the towns Panzano or Volpaia. Is the author the fan of Pearl Jam and writes about them a lot? I’m sure going to get it soon one way or another. Thank you again!

    • Italophilia
      February 1, 2020 at 9:23 am

      I’m so happy you like this post. Most welcome 🙂 I think the author is a huge fan because Pearl Jam’s music is mentioned quite a few times in the book. Its wonderful!

  • Ted R. Uva
    January 9, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    I suggest my book, “A Small Town in Irpinia”. It can be purchased on

    • Italophilia
      January 10, 2020 at 10:49 am

      It’s unavailable on Amazon India. I live in Delhi. Anyway thanks for sharing!

  • toothpicktales
    January 9, 2020 at 2:22 am

    Cucina Tipica sounds interesting. I might have to check it out. Thanks.

  • Bryan Murphy
    January 7, 2020 at 11:43 pm

    Hello, Ishita. I think you’d also enjoy “Goodbye, Padania”. It starts In Turin and ends in Varkala:

    • Italophilia
      January 10, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Hi Bryan! Thanks for reading the post. Sure I’ll check it out 🙂

  • KareninCalabria
    January 6, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Interesting list. And you’ve enticed me particularly with the Levi book. I’ve read Christ Stopped at Eboli in both Italian and English. It’s such a wonderful book and now I’m asking myself why I hadn’t ever read anything else by him.

    • Italophilia
      January 6, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      🙂 Thanks for reading, Karen. I really think these books be read.Buona lettura!


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