Books Set in Italy
Last month I started my online book club and asked for your recommendations for books set in Italy. I want to get your input on your favorite reads set in places we are visiting. I am mostly looking for fiction or creative nonfiction. While I love travelogues, I don’t need guidebooks. I want to be entertained while getting a broader picture of the place we staying.
Reading these books set in Italy while in Italy both enriched my time there and made the stories more meaningful.
There are a ton of books set in Italy, of course. Some of your suggestions for fiction set in Italy (The Da Vinci Code; Eat, Pray, Love, Under the Tuscan Sun) I have already read. And there is only so much time – four weeks!
I bought this book on the recommendation of my friend, Mariann. In addition to having articles, interviews, recipes, and quotes from writers, visitors, residents, and experts on the region…recommendations for books, restaurants, wineries, and other suggestions were listed. This is where I got the idea to visit Fiesole and read Birth of Venus. The book recommends novels set in Tuscany, novels set in Florence, and other books based in Italy.
This may be one of my favorite travel books. I stuck to the sections on Florence and Siena since those are the places we stayed, but would dive back in if we went other places in Tuscany and Umbria. There are similar books for Paris and Istanbul and I’ll definitely be getting it when we get to one of those places.
Buy Tuscany and Umbria on Amazon here.
This is such a classic, I felt I had to reread it. And I am glad I did. Of the books I read, the ones set in Florence, Italy were my favorite, because we spent most of our time there. Seeing Florence through early 20th century British eyes while in Florence, was a great perspective. And it was a pretty cute tale.
Buy A Room with a View on Amazon here (it’s free on Kindle!)
I haven’t read any other books by Scottish thriller writer, Sarah Dunant, and might not be drawn to this normally, but when in Florence…. I am glad I gave it a chance because I really enjoyed it. It’s not a thriller, but Italian historical fiction.
It’s the 15th century and Alessandra Cecchi is almost 15-years-old. She grew up in the Renaissance, appreciating luxury, art, and poetry – all the things Florence is so famous for. Her father brings a painter to live with them and paint a fresco on their family chapel. Of course, Alessandra falls for him before being whisked into an arranged marriage with an older man.
The story is entertaining as is getting a picture of Florence at the time the Renaissance was coming up against religious zeal. It was an interesting look into the everyday life of a wealthy family during changing times.
Buy The Birth of Venus on Amazon here.
This is a comedy that takes place in the 1970s in a villa on Lake Nemi. I did not find it as darkly comedic as the reviewers on Amazon, but it was entertaining.
“The Takeover is a suspenseful, acidic comedy about the clash between the conventions of old wealth and the inevitable tide of modernity. It is a testament to the mind and work of ‘The most sharply original fictional imagination of our time.’” So says the Sunday Times.
I don’t know if it was the way it was written or that I didn’t know what time period it was taking place in until I went back to the copyright, but this book was a little confusing for me at first. Read the book flap before the story.
Buy The Takeover on Amazon here.
While the story is not Pulitzer material, it was fun to read a book set in Florence. It’s book four in the Robert Langdon series—you remember The Da Vinci Code. This time Robert Langdon ends up in Florence, though he doesn’t remember why. He has to follow clues left by a mad villain in time to save the world.
Henry and I both read it. We rarely read the same book, so it was nice to have someone to talk to about the story, the places in the book, and what we thought about it. Henry and I agreed that learning about Dante and Florence history was a highlight. We even took an Inferno Tour at the Palazzo Vecchio, which was super interesting because we got to go into the roof, through secret passageways, and visit other places not open to the general public. Henry is working on a video of Inferno locations in Florence, so keep an eye on our YouTube channel for that. Apparently, there is a movie with Tom Hanks, too, but I think the storyline is different than the book. Or the ending is different, anyway.
We are now in Croatia and I’d love to hear your recommendations for novels or essays set in Croatia in the comments. I’ve read Girl at War and The Tiger’s Wife with my IRL book club and LOVED them both, but don’t want anything too war-torn or distressing, if possible.
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