I think the best way to prepare for a trip is to read about where I am going. Or, when I’m home, I can relive my travel experiences while the words come alive on the page. And there is no better place to return than Italy! I have 16 of the best books published in Italy to moisten your appetite in the countryside.
You will find a mix of both fiction and non-fiction, whether you want to feel dreamy, paint a picture of the warm terracotta roofs, or you want to learn some history.
1. “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter
In 1962, on a rocky outcrop on the sunny Italian coast, a young innkeeper sees the glorious waters of the Ligurian Sea from below and sees an apparent: a tall, thin woman in white approaching him on a boat. She is an actress from America, he learns, and she is dying.
History changes between 1962 and the present. Now we are in the United States, where an elderly Italian man shows up at the back of a film studio looking for the enigmatic woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. It is a story of love, dreams and leading with your heart.
I drool over this book! It is so good and beautiful reading. The kind one can read over and over again.
2. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Venice, Rome and Florence
This bestseller tells about Gilbert’s years of traveling around the world after her divorce and what she discovers about herself. From Italy, where she eats and learns to love again; to India, where she finds spirituality; to Bali, where she learns to balance joy and devotion – this is a woman on a mission to heal herself.
One cannot help but fall in love with Italy through Gilbert’s writing. She brings each city’s sights, smells and tastes to life. And who wouldn’t want to read about someone who travels the world and finds himself ?!
Theme: Self-discovery, Romance
3. “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes
In “Under the Tuscan Sun”, Frances Mayes tells the story of her purchase, renovation and life in a ruined villa in Tuscany. The memoir is full of recipes, anecdotes and observations about Italian culture. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years.
If you want to feel swept away in Tuscany, this is the perfect getaway.
4. “Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown
When a Harvard symbolologist is sent to assess a strange symbol burned into the chest of a murdered physicist, he reveals the Machiavellian deep organization known as the Illuminati, which is preparing to wreak havoc on the Catholic Church.
After learning about a bomb placed in the Vatican, he hurries to Rome and follows a trail of ancient signs around the city in an attempt to prevent the explosion.
Theme: Action, Adventure, Thriller
5. “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway
Milan, Italian Alps
A Farewell to Arms is a novel by Ernest Hemingway that takes place during the First World War. The story follows Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American officer who serves as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, and his love affair with Catherine Barkley, an English nurse. When Henry is injured and sent to a hospital in Milan, Barkley visits him regularly and their love affair deepens.
This novel is a great read for history buffs from World War I, as well as those who enjoy a good love story.
Theme: Historical fiction, romance, war
6. “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo
Sicily (and New York City)
The Godfather is a crime novel by Mario Puzo, originally published in 1969. The story follows the lives of the members of an Italian-American crime family based in New York City in the years 1945-1955.
The Godfather is a must-read for fans of mafia stories. It’s a classic for a reason! Many people think of the movie, but the book is just as good.
Theme: Crime, Drama
7. “The Angel of Rome” by Jess Walter
A young American college student moves to Rome to study and is captivated by the glamorous film industry as he meets a beautiful Italian actress near the end of his career, as well as an indomitable American TV star who wants to relive his glory days.
I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s very short, only 2 hours, and it’s free on Audible. *
Theme: Short Stories, Romance, Comedy
8. “One Italian Summer” by Rebecca Serle
In “One Italian Summer”, a young woman named Emma travels to the beautiful Amalfi Coast to live with her aunt after the death of her mother. Emma mourns and does not want to be with anyone, but she slowly begins to open up and enjoy her time in Italy. She meets a handsome local man named Luca and they start falling for each other.
This is a beautiful, heartwarming read that will make you long for the Amalfi Coast. T
9. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith
In “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Tom Ripley is a swindler (and sociopath) who is hired by a wealthy businessman to bring his son, Dickie Greenleaf, home from Italy.Ripley begins to become obsessed with Greenleaf’s life.
It’s a dark and twisted novel, set in Venice’s scenery, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
10. “The House at the Edge of Night” by Catherine Banner
Fictional Italian island
The small island of Castellamare is a peaceful paradise too far to be forgotten, yet not isolated enough to avoid the worries of the world. In the middle of the island’s activity is a café known as the House at the Edge of Night, where residents gather to gossip and talk.
Amedeo Esposito, an orphan from Florence, comes to the island as a doctor and meets his wife, Pina. The characters in the story’s entrance and intrigue: the priest who has a penchant for scandal, the evil count and his intriguing wife, and many more who show a variety of lives in miniatures on the island.
This is easy, beautiful reading. I have also shown this book in my “what to read in 2022 ″ books.
11. “Room with a View” by EM Forster
In “Room with a View”, a young English woman named Lucy is on holiday in Italy with her parents and sister. She meets a young man, George, and falls in love with him. However, her family does not support the relationship and wants her to marry the acceptable suitor.
I love books that look at class systems, and this one is a classic.
Theme: Classic, Romance
12. “Romeo & Juliet” by William Shakespeare
This Shakespeare play is worth reading. The story tells the story of two young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, who are from two different families who quarrel with each other. When their families find out about the relationship, they are forced to divorce. Juliet fakes her death, Romeo finds her. When he thinks she is dead, he decides to take his own life. When Juliet finds him, she does the same.
Theme: Classics, Romance
13. “Love and Gelato” by Jenna Evan Welch
A young American girl travels across Italy on a road trip filled with love, intrigue and adventure in Love and Gelato. Lina spends the summer in Tuscany, as it was her mother’s dying wish that she learn more about her father. She learns the enchantment of Italy as she reads her mother’s diary, which contains a life – changing secret.
This is the perfect summer read.
Theme: Romance, Chick Lit, Young Adult
14. “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje
The English Patient is a beautiful, tragic love story set in World War II. The story follows a burnt man being cared for by a nurse in an abandoned Italian villa. The man, known only as the English patient, begins to tell his story of love and loss during the war.
This is a timeless novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
Theme: War, Romance, Tragedy
15. “Call Me By Your Name” by Andre Aciman
“Call Me By Your Name” tells the story of a summer romance between a 17-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man. The novel takes place in the beautiful city of Crema in northern Italy and follows the two men as they explore their relationship.
Theme: Coming-of-Age, Romance
16. “Midnight in Sicily” by Peter Robb
In “Midnight in Sicily”, Peter Robb takes us on a journey through the Sicilian landscape and culture. He explores Sicily’s mafia, religion, food and politics, while also telling the story of his own family’s history.
This is a fascinating read that will give you a new perspective on Italy.
Theme: Memories, History
Whatever type of book you are looking for, there is definitely a great reading set in Italy. From romance to war, these books will transport you to the beautiful country and make you want more. Have you read any of these books? What did you think?