I find the best way to prepare for a trip is to read about where I’m going. Or after I get home, I can relive my travel experiences as the words come to life on the page, and there is no better place to come back to than Italy! I have 16 of the best books made in Italy to satiate your appetite for the country.
You’ll find a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, whether you want to feel dreamy, paint a picture of cozy rooftops, or want to learn some history.
1. “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter
In 1962, on a rocky outcrop on the sunny Italian coast, the owner of a small motel watched from below the gleaming waters of the Ligurian Sea and saw a ghost: a tall, slender woman in white heading towards him on a boat. She’s an actress from America, and he’s learning, and she’s dying.
The story travels from 1962 to the present. Now, we’re in the States, as an elderly Italian man appears in the back of a movie studio looking for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades ago. It is a story about love, dreams and leadership with your heart.
My saliva on this book! It is very good and a beautiful read. The kind that you can read over and over.
2. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Venice, Rome and Florence
This bestselling book chronicles Gilbert’s year-long journey around the world after her divorce and what she discovers about herself. From Italy, where you eat and learn to love again; to India where you find spirituality; To Bali, where she learns to balance pleasure and fidelity – this is a woman on a mission to heal herself.
You can’t help but fall in love with Italy through Gilbert’s writings. It brings the sights, smells, and tastes of every city vividly. And who wouldn’t want to read about someone who travels the world and finds themselves?!
Theme: Self-discovery, Romance
3. “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes
In “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Frances Mays tells the story of her purchase, renovation, and life in a ruined villa in Tuscany. The diary is full of recipes, anecdotes and notes about Italian culture. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years.
If you want to feel like drifting away in Tuscany, this is the perfect escape.
4. “Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown
When a Harvard symbolist is sent to evaluate a strange symbol burned in the chest of a murdered physicist, he discovers a deep Machiavellian organization known as the Illuminati, which is preparing to wreak havoc in the Catholic Church.
After learning of a bomb in the Vatican, he rushes to Rome and follows a path of ancient signs around the city in an effort 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 written by Ernest Hemingway during World War I. The story follows Lieutenant Frederick Henry, an American officer working as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, and his love affair with English nurse Catherine Barclay. When Henry is wounded and sent to a hospital in Milan, Barclay visits him regularly, and their love affair deepens.
This novel is a great read for history buffs in 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 members of an Italian-American crime family based in New York City during the years 1945-1955.
The Godfather is a must for fans of mafia tales. It’s a classic for a reason! Many think of the movie, but the book is just as good.
Theme: Crime, Drama
7. “Angel of Rome” by Jess Walter
A young American college student moves to Rome to study and becomes fascinated by the glamorous film industry when he meets a beautiful Italian actress towards the end of her career, as well as an irrepressible American TV star looking to recapture his glory days.
I absolutely love this book. It’s very short, only 2 hours and it’s free on Audible. *
Theme: short story, romance, comedy
8. “One Italian Summer” by Rebecca Searle
In One Italian Summer, a young woman named Emma travels to the beautiful Amalfi Coast to stay with her aunt after her mother’s death. Emma is sad and doesn’t want to be around anyone, but she is slowly starting to open up and enjoy her time in Italy. She meets a handsome local man named Luca and they begin to fall in love with each other.
This is a beautiful and heart-warming read that will leave you yearning for the Amalfi Coast. T
9. “The Gifted Mr. Ripley” Patricia Highsmith
In “The Gifted Mr. Ripley,” Tom Ripley is a con artist (and sociopath) hired by a wealthy businessman to bring his son, Dickie Greenleaf, from Italy. Ripley begins to obsess over Greenleaf’s life.
It’s a dark and twisted novel, set in the backdrop of Venice, that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
10. “House on the Edge of Night” by Kathryn Banner
fantasy italian island
The tiny island of Castellamare is a peaceful paradise far from forgotten, yet not isolated enough to avoid the fears of the world. In the center of the island’s activity is a café known as The House at the Edge of Night, where residents gather together to talk and gossip.
Amedeo Esposito, an orphan from Florence, comes to the island as a doctor and meets his wife Pina. Characters in the entry to the story and the thriller: the scandal-inclined priest, the evil count and his interesting wife, and many others who show off a raft of life in miniature, on the island.
This is a beautiful and easy read. I also featured this book atWhat do you read in books 2022.
11. “Room with a View” by E.M. Forster
In “Room with a View”, a young Englishwoman named Lucy is vacationing in Italy with her parents and sister. She meets a young man named George and falls in love with him. However, her family does not support the relationship and wants her to marry the accepted suitor.
I love books that look at class systems and this book is a classic.
Theme: Classic, Romance
12. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s play is worth reading. The story tells the story of two young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, who belong to two different families who quarrel with each other. When their family finds out about the relationship, they are forced to separate. Juliet fakes her own death, and Romeo finds her. Thinking she is dead, he decides to take his life. Once Juliet finds him, she does the same.
Theme: Classics, Romance
13. “Love and Gelato” by Jenna Evan Welch
A young American girl travels through Italy on a wild ride full of love, intrigue and adventure in Love and Gelato. Lina spends the summer in Tuscany, where her mother hopes to learn more about her father. She learns the magic of Italy while reading her mother’s diary, which contains a life-changing secret.
This is the perfect summer reading.
Theme: Romantic, lit chick, young man
14. “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje
The English Patient is a beautiful and tragic love story set in World War II. The story revolves around a burnt man who is cared for by a nurse in an abandoned Italian villa. The man, known only as the English Patient, begins a tale 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. Set in the beautiful town of Crema in northern Italy, the novel 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 landscape and culture of Sicily. He explores the Mafia, religion, food and politics in Sicily while also telling the story of his family’s history.
This is a great read that will give you a new perspective on Italy.
Subject: Memoirs, History
No matter what type of book you are looking for, there is sure to be a great reading group in Italy. From romance to war, these books will transport you to the beautiful country and leave you wanting for more. Have you read any of these books? What do you think?