La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.
The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls “a partial biography of Florence,” beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical.
Italy in Mind
A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.
Eyewitness Guide Italy
Another gem in the Eyewitness series, this superb guide is handsome, convenient and up-to-date. Featuring color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country’s attractions.
National Geographic Maps
Italy Adventure Map
A shaded, color map of Italy, at a scale of 1:1,000,000.
Berndtson & Berndtson
A detailed, plastic-covered city map of Florence at a scale of 1:7,000.
Berndtson & Berndtson
A colorful, detailed city map of Venice, perfect for finding your way around the famously labyrinthine streets and canals.
The Food of Italy
Evocative of Italy and its diverse cuisine, this classic book, organized geographically, offers a cook’s tour of the country. It’s a well-informed and wonderful culinary guide.
The Pursuit of Italy
From Cicero to Dante, Giuseppe Verdi and 20th-century Italian politicians, Gilmour traces the history of Italian life and culture.
City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas
Roger Crowley spins tales of three centuries of plunder and plague, imperial conquest and piracy in this riveting new history, chronicling the transformation of a tiny city of lagoon dwellers into the richest place on earth.
My Two Italies
Award-winning author and scholar Luzzi presents Italy in all its glory and squalor – its artistic magnificence, north-south disunity and its dirty politics and corruption – in this highly personal portrait.
Siena, City of the Virgin
Burckhardt’s classic portrait includes dozens of illustrations, maps and photographs of architecture and early Renaissance art of Siena.
Italy correspondent for The Economist Hooper explores Italy – its baffling contradictions, unique character and contemporary culture – in this illuminating portrait.
Thomas F. Madden
Venice, A New History
With authority, Madden tackles the history of the celebrated city from Roman times onward.
The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall
A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.
A. Richard Turner
Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art
A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.
The Genius of Venice, Piazza San Marco and the Making of the Republic
With 112 color illustrations and four maps, the Genius of Venice presents the magnificent buildings of the celebrated piazza as, in the words of John Ruskin, the “living books of history” in this handsome cultural history.
D.H. Lawrence and Italy
This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence’s three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence’s memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places, his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia.
Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life
Twenty years later, Mayes is still besotted by Italy – her house, the tumbling geraniums, the people and the food – all lovingly documented in her best memoir yet. With interludes in Portofino, Assisi and Rome and a focus on Renaissance master artist Luca Signorelli.
The World of Venice
Morris displays her talent for research, telling anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited portrait of a beloved city, its history and inhabitants. If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite.
Portofino, A Novel
Set in the 1960s, this coming-of-age tale follows a young boy’s encounters with the sights and people of the seaside town of Portofino, while he avoids his missionary parents’ constant bickering and their attempts to convert the locals.
Death at La Fenice
The first of the tremendously good Guido Brunetti mysteries, all set in the author’s beloved Venice, in which a famous conductor is found dead at the celebrated La Fenice theater.