Books,  Italy

15 Books to Read While Visiting Italy

Italy. It’s the place of pasta and Puccini, and hundreds of stories. If you’re visiting Italy, you should be reading books about Italy and books set in Italy! Here are a few to consider:

Non-Fiction Books About Italy

  • The House of Medici: It’s Rise and Fall

    If you want to understand modern Italy, start understanding the Medici family. The great patrons of many of the arts, this book brings much of Tuscany to life. You’ll look at Florence with new eyes, and see Siena anew, not to mention Milan! If you’re headed to Rome, you’re also going to be surrounded by the papacy – and understanding the Medicis is great for seeing the art in Rome too!

  • Leonardo da Vinci

    A new biography by Walter Isaacson, he looks at the life of Leonardo da Vinci. If you want to understand Italy, look at one of its most favorite sons. This is also a great book to read alongside the Medicis – da Vinci was able to share his genius with the world because of the support of the Medicis.

  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas

    Before Italy unified, it was a collection of city-states, with Venice as one of the most dominant. This is a great survey of history and how one, small, island city came to rule much of the seas, and thus, the world.

  • The Hills of Tuscany

    A first-person memoir set in Tuscany, this is a fun walk through Italy – not just as a tourist!

Fiction Books About Italy

    The Enchanted April

  • If you’re headed to Cinque Terre or especially Portofino, this is a fun read. It’s an old book (quite the classic), but it sets the stage of Portofino just magically. If you want to appreciate what you’re looking at along the coast, this book puts words to it!
  • The Birth of Venus

  • Read this one with The Medicis and Leonardo da Vinci listed above. This is a fictional take on the Florence of the Medicis. The town is richly illustrated, and the storyline is gripping. If you want a tour of Florence but don’t like non-fiction, this will give you a great sense of the place.
  • Catch-22

  • This is a different take on Italy, that’s for sure! But if you haven’t read this funny classic about an American military man stationed in southern Italy, you’ll be laughing for quite some time.
  • The Shoemaker’s Wife

  • This is an incredible, sweeping, and gorgeous tale. It’s partly set in the US,
    and partly set in the Italian Alps. It was one of my absolute favorite books of 2016.
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky

  • If you like WWII fiction but you want a change from the usual set in Germany or France, this is a unique book about the Italian side of the war.

Beach Reads Set In Italy

    Angels and Demons

  • If you haven’t read Angels and Demons, do so before you go to Italy! If nothing else, you’ll look at the art in a whole new light.
  • The Venetian Mask

  • Perfect for a glimpse into the old world of Venice, told through two girls who wed into warring families.
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad

  • A fun book set across continents (but with many scenes in Naples!), you’ll find fun, love and redemption inside!
  • My Brilliant Friend

  • If you’re a fast reader, you’re in luck – there are three more in this series. Set in Naples and along the Amalfi coast, these are fun reads that are great for setting the scene!
  • The Wedding Officer

  • Set in Naples, get ready to get hungry. Lots of romance and food are featured in this novel. Warning: You’re going to want to cook!
  • The Madonna of the Almonds

  • More food! This is a fun take on how Amaretto di Saronna came to be. So if you love a good stiff drink, enjoy this romantic ride set in the hills of the Italian Alps.

Want more books about Italy? You can find books set in Florence or books set in Amalfi, Capri and Naples!

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Great book ideas for when you're visiting Italy

Fantastic books to read when you're going to or dreaming about Italy

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