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Books about Italy

Ronald W. Del Sesto, Sr., who inspired the founding of, loved to read. He spent days, nights, and weekends plowing through books. At any given time dozens of “active” books piled up next to his Poltona Frau reading chair. Overstuffed book shelves lined his home. Among the many genres he enjoyed was books about Italy. On this page is his Italy “starters” reading list. Enjoy the Books about ItalyBooks about Rome, Books about Venice and Books about Florence.

Rome From Its Founding to the Present Day: a Quartet

Editor’s comment: Do read the following books on Rome in the order presented. Enjoy them as you would a good grappa, slowly. Warning: once you start reading you will be unable to stop. And you will be unable to control the urge to go to Rome and wander about Ancient-Christian-Renaissance Rome as the Romans do.

  1. Roma, the Novel of Ancient Rome by Steven Saylor (2007) – Tells the story of Rome’s first thousand years, 1000 BC to 1BC, from the salt gatherers at the mouth of the Tiber to Caesar Augustus.
  2. Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin (2008) – Simply a masterpiece. Tells the story of Lavinia, princess of Latium, who, with pious Aeneas, is destined to found Rome. Their descendants ruled for 15 generations.
  3. The Aeneid by Virgil (29-19 BC), Translation, Robert Fagles; Introduction, Bernard Knox (2006) – Modern verse translation of the ancient Roman epic of goddess-born Aeneas, who, following his fate, fled from the burning Troy and founded Rome.
  4. The Secrets of Rome, Love and Death in the Eternal City by Corrado Augias (2007) – The 15 chapters cover 2700 years of Roman life. Fascinating tales presented in an interesting fashion: “The Most Beautiful Lady of Rome” tells the story of Lucretia Borgia; “The Other Michelangelo,” of Caravaggio.

Books about Italy: Contemporary Italian Politics

  • The World From Italy, Football, Food and Politics by George Negus (2002)
  • A History of Contemporary Italy, Society and Politics 1943-1988 by Paul Ginsborg (2003)
  • Italy and Its Discontents, Family, Civil Society, State: 1980-2001 by Paul Ginsborg (2003)
  • The View From Vesuvius, Italian Culture and the Southern Question by Nelson Moe (2002)
  • An Italian in America by Beppe Severgnini (1995)
  • The Italian Way, Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes and Customs of the Italians by Mario Costantino Lawrence Gambella (1996)
  • The Crisis of the Italian State: From the Origins of the Cold War to the Fall of Berlusconi and Beyond by Patrick McCarthy (1997)
  • The New Italians by Charles Richards (1994, 1995)
  • The Italians, A Full-Length Portrait Featuring their Manners and Morals by Luigi Barzini (1964)

Books about Rome

  • The Smiles of Rome by Susan Cahill (2005)
  • Cafe Life Rome by Joe Wolff (2002)
  • A Thousand Bells at Noon-A Roman’s Guide to the Streets and Pleasures of His Native City by Franco Romagnoli (2002)
  • Roma-The Smart Travelers Guide to the Eternal City by Paul Hofmann (1993)
  • The Seasons of Rome-A Journal by Paul Hofmann (1997)
  • City of the Soul-A Walk in Rome by William Murray (2002)
  • As The Romans Do-The Delights, Drama, and Daily Diversions of Life in the Eternal City by Alan Epstein (2000)
  • Playing Away-Roman Holidays by Michael Mewshaw (1988)
  • The Vatican’s Women, Female Influence at the Holy See by Paul Hofmann (2000)
  • Rome Antics by David Maculay
  • Notes From A Roman Terrace by Joan Marble (2003)
  • Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King (2003)
  • Basilica, the Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter’s by R. A. Scotti (2006)
  • Cicero-The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt (2001)

Rome Guides

  • Top 10 Guide to Rome by Sharri Whiting
  • Rome City Map by Dorling Kindersley Travel Guides
  • Trattorias of Rome, Florence and Venice by Maureen B Fant
  • Rome Insideout by The Map Group
  • Great Sleeps Italy, Florence, Rome, Venice by Sandra Gustafson (2002)
  • Access Rome by Richard Saul Wurman

Books about Venice

  • Harry’s Bar, The Life and Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark by Arrigo Cipriani (1996)
  • A Thousand Days in Venice, an Unexpected Romance by Marlena De Blasi (2002)
  • Venice Lion City,The Religion of Empire by Garry Wilis (2001)
  • The Perfect House, A Journey with the Renaissance Master Andrea Palladio by Witold Rybczynski (2003)
  • Palladian Days, Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House by Sally Gable with Carl I. Gable (2005)
  • Venetian Dreaming by Paula Weideger (2002)
  • Vaporetto 13 by Robert Girardi (novel 1997)
  • Venetian Stories by Jane Turner Rylands (2003)
  • My Venice by Harold Brodkey (1998)
  • Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy (1963)
  • A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant (2003)
  • Venetian Stories by Jane Turner Rylands (2003)

Books about Florence

  • The Monster of Florence, a True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi (2008)
  • Heat…apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford (2006)
  • Cafe Life Florence: A Guidebook to The Cafes & Bars Of The Renaissance Treasure by Joe Wolff (2005)
  • The Food Lover’s Guide to Florence: With Culinary Excursions in Tuscany by Emily Wise Miller (2007)
  • The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Florence by Louise Fili (2007)
  • The Renaissance by Paul Johnson (2000)
  • Florence, A Delicate Case by David Leavitt (2002)
  • Brunelleschi’s Dome, How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King (2000)
  • Leon Battista Alberti, Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance by Anthony Grafton (2000)
  • Il Gigante, Michelangelo, Florence and the David by Anton Gill (2002)
  • Dante by RWB Lewis (2001)
  • Dante In Love, The World’s Greatest Poem and How It Made History by Harriet Rubin (2004)
  • Giovanni Boccaccio Famous Women edited and translated by Virginia Brown (2001)
  • Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel (1999)
  • Niccolo’s Smile, A biography of Machiavelli by Maurizio Viroli (1998)
  • A Room With a View by EM Forster (1908)

For more Italian culture check out Ron’s list of must-see Italian films.