Whether you’re all booked or just beginning to plan your trip to Italy, reading the right books before you go is a great way to begin discovering Italy long before you board your flight.
We recommend you go beyond reading an Italy guide book, and take in a variety of different books that can help you better understand and anticipate your journey. Read on for six books about Italy that will get you primed for your journey.
Fiction: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
My Brilliant Friend is the first book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan trilogy — a series of novels set in Naples that has exploded in popularity in recent years. An ongoing story of intense female friendship throughout the years. It also explores the gritty day-to-day experience of living in Naples. A great way to get a taste of a city that’s less represented in literature than some of its more famous cousins.
Non-Fiction: Rome by Robert Hughes
You can’t discuss Italy without speaking about Rome, the Eternal City. Robert Hughes, one of the sharpest arts and culture critics, take an eye to Rome as a city, as an empire, and as the cornerstone of Western Civilization. Robert Hughes has spent a lot of time in the city, giving the history a personal angle.
Food: Pasta Pane Vino by Matt Goulding
An Italy travel book with a cuisine-oriented lens, Pasta Pane Vino is a deeply personal take on Italy’s food culture. Goulding’s book comes from the Roads & Kingdoms publishing house that was co-founded with Anthony Bourdain. Beautifully written with a lot of specific local examples, this book will help you fall in love with Italian cuisine from afar.
Non Fiction: Venice by Jan Morris
If you like books set in Italy that give you a full immersion experience, Jan Morris’s book is a must read. Widely considered one of the greatest English-language travel books, Venice covers Venetian temperament, tradition, architecture, as well as its colorful and impressive history. No corner of Venice is left untouched by Morris’s extremely sharp eye.
Fiction: The Italians by Luigi Barzini
A book of Italy travel tips might give you a window into Italian etiquette, but it likely won’t provide a picture of the Italian soul. Barzini, a politician, author, and journalist does just that by digging into every corner of Italian life. Written in 1964 by a native Italian, The Italians gives us a peek into the national character of Italy from an insider’s point of view.
Non-Fiction: Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes
The book that launched thousands of Tuscan-bound holidays, Under the Tuscan Sun remains a cherished classic of the travel writing genre. Mayes eyes the Tuscan countryside with the eyes of a poet, the palate of a gourmet chef, and the sense of an experienced traveller. Discover the joys of Tuscany through her eyes, and her recipes, that will give you a little taste of what’s to come.
Start planning and dreaming...
The more you know about where you’re visiting, the richer your experience will be. Works of fiction, non-fiction and history can be the best travel guides you could ask for, enabling you to imagine, dream, and start to understand the culture you are experiencing.