“I love places that have an incredible history. I love the Italian way of life. I love the food. I love the people. I love the attitudes of Italians.” – Elton John
Italy is one of those countries I could never get bored with. I love returning to explore new areas, as well as revisiting favourite areas. Italy has everything you could want. Beautiful countrysides, bustling cities, history, art, good food and delicious wines.
If, like me, you love Italy and want to transport yourself there from your living room then here are 50 amazing books set in Italy. No matter if you like romance, comedy, thrillers or nonfiction, there’s a book for you in this list!
- 1 50 Incredible Books Set in Italy
- 1.1 Romeo & Juliet
- 1.2 The Monster of Florence
- 1.3 Angels & Demons
- 1.4 The Villa in Italy
- 1.5 Eat, Pray, Love
- 1.6 A Postcard From Italy
- 1.7 Summer at the Lake
- 1.8 Italian Folktales
- 1.9 The Poison Keeper
- 1.10 Italy for The Gourmet Traveler
- 1.11 Catch 22
- 1.12 Rome is Where The Heart Is
- 1.13 The Thousand Lights Hotel
- 1.14 Being Scottish in Italy
- 1.15 Under A Dancing Star
- 1.16 Our Italian Journey
- 1.17 Call Me By Your Name
- 1.18 Four Seasons in Rome
- 1.19 The Venice Sketchbook
- 1.20 Love and Gelato
- 1.21 Murder in Matera
- 1.22 Agostino
- 1.23 You, Me and Italy
- 1.24 I’m Not Scared
- 1.25 Eating My Way Through Italy
- 1.26 Living in a Foreign Language
- 1.27 That Month in Tuscany
- 1.28 Gomorrah
- 1.29 An Italian Holiday
- 1.30 Into The Burning Dawn
- 1.31 Three Days in Florence
- 1.32 Letters from Calabria
- 1.33 A Florentine Death
- 1.34 Pasta, Pane, Vino
- 1.35 Italy Ever After
- 1.36 Beneath a Scarlet Sky
- 1.37 Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy
- 1.38 Almost Blue
- 1.39 My Italian Bulldozer
- 1.40 Rita’s War
- 1.41 Under the Tuscan Sun
- 1.42 The Secrets of Villa Rosso
- 1.43 Midnight in Sicily
- 1.44 Eternal
- 1.45 A Small Place in Italy
- 1.46 The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club
- 1.47 A Quiet Death in Italy
- 1.48 The Birth of Venus
- 1.49 Living in Italy: The Real Deal
- 1.50 The Things We Cherished
- 2 Italy Inspiration
- 3 Travel Books
50 Incredible Books Set in Italy
Romeo & Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Arguably the most famous book set in Italy is the tragedy by William Shakespeare. Two star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet meet and fall passionately in love. Unfortunately for them, their families are bitter enemies. Defying their parents, the couple secretly marry but this love story has a tragic ending.
The Monster of Florence
By Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi
The Monster of Florence is a true account of a brutal serial murder in idyllic Florence. After settling in Italy in 2000, Douglas Preston discovered that his family’s new home had been the scene of one of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history. The killer has never been found and was only known as the Monster of Florence. Intrigued, Preston met with Italian journalist Mario Spezi, who had followed the case since the first murders in 1974. This is the true story of their search for the identification of the man they believe committed the crimes. Including their chilling interview with the man!
Angels & Demons
By Dan Brown
Angels and Demons is the first of the Robert Langdon books by Dan Brown. Professor Robert Langdon is a world renowned Harvard symbologist who is summoned to analyse a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. In a race to save the Vatican from a bomb, Langdon heads to Rome on a cryptic hunt through crypts, dangerous catacombs and abandoned cathedrals.
The Villa in Italy
By Elizabeth Edmondson
Four very different people have been named in the will of Beatrice Malaspina and summoned to her home, Villa Dante. But they don’t know who she is. While they wait to find out, the villa begins to work its seductive magic on them. All four of them have gone to great lengths to hide their troubles but soon realise hope is possible after all. However, the mysterious Beatrice has a devastating secret to reveal that will affect them all.
Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Made popular by the film, Eat, Pray, Love is a great story of one woman’s search for happiness. After a bitter divorce, Elizabeth realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of what she believes is missing; pleasure, devotion and balance. She travels to Rome and India and then Bali. Here a toothless medicine man offers her a new path to peace and slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.
A Postcard From Italy
By Alex Brown
Grace Quinn works at a storage company and loves her job. Occasionally she’ll find ‘treasure’ in the forgotten units that have been abandoned by customers. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when she finds a valuable art collection, a bundle of letters and diaries that date back to the 1930s. Grace delves deeper and uncovers the story of a young English woman who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World War. Grace’s search takes her to a villa overlooking the Italian Riviera but will her quest unravel family secrets and betrayals?
Summer at the Lake
By Erica James
Lake Como is beautiful, enchanting and romantic but has a different meaning to different people. For Floriana, it’s the place where the love of her life is getting married to another woman. A wedding that Floriana has been invited to! For Esme, Lake Como is where she fell in love for the first time over sixty years ago. For Adam, Lake Como could be the distraction he needs after his girlfriend left him.
By Italo Calvino
Two hundred traditional stories of Italy have been retold to share with a new generation. Filled with stories of kings and peasants, saints and ogres, these tales bring to life Italy’s folklore. Tales of humour, mystery and playful nonsense, they are sure to entertain all who read them.
The Poison Keeper
By Deborah Swift
Based on the legendary life of Giulia Tofana, this is the story of hidden secrets and how courage and love can overcome vengeance. Giulia longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business but her mother has always been secretive about her success. One day her mother is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi and Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade. She runs for her life and escapes to her aunts in Naples. But when she learns her mother has been cruelly executed, Giulia swears she will get revenge on the Duke de Verdi.
Italy for The Gourmet Traveler
By Fred Plotkin
Probably the most complete gastronomic guide to Italy ever published. Fred Plotkin takes you beyond the traditional tourist experience, revealing the true richness of his nation’s cuisine and the lifestyle that surrounds it. From country markets and wineries, to city restaurants and cooking schools, this book has everything. Plotkin has selected a ‘classic town’ in each Italian region that best embodies the region’s cuisine. Plotkin has also selected 42 outstanding recipes for gourmet dining at home.
By Joseph Heller
Catch 22 is a hilarious and tragic satire on military madness and the tale of one man’s efforts to survive. World War II is almost over but Yossarian has never been closer to death. Stationed in an American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, each flight mission introduces him to thousands of people determined to kill him. But it’s not the enemy that is Yossarian’s problem. His own army is intent on keeping him airborne and the maddening ‘Catch-22’ that allows for no possibility of escape.
Rome is Where The Heart Is
By Tilly Tennant
Thirty-year-old Kate almost hits rock bottom when her childhood sweetheart dumps her without a goodbye. Determined for a fresh start, Kate heads to stunning Rome in search of healing. After a night of several glasses of wine, she finds herself questioned by a concerned policeman. Alessandro is tall with wavy black hair and cheekbones to die for so Kate knows she’s in trouble. The spark is undeniable but with five meddling sisters, a fearsome mama and a very beautiful ex, they are certain Kate is not the girl for him. Kate knows it’s more than just a holiday fling but is there too much against them?
The Thousand Lights Hotel
By Emylia Hall
Kit loses her mother who she is very close to and on her deathbed reveals that her father is actually still alive. Kit feels drawn to finally connect with her father and the search for him brings Kit to The Thousand Lights Hotel, perched upon the cliff of the island Elba. Once there, she gets to know her father and discover more about her mother’s early life in Italy. This is a beautifully emotional story of loss, betrayal and love.
Being Scottish in Italy
By Fraser Lauchlan
After 12 years of living in Scotland, Fraser’s Italian wife announced that she wanted to move back home to the beautiful island of Sardinia. Having lived in Scotland almost his whole life, Fraser found himself moving to a different country with a different language and a very different climate. Being Scottish in Italy is the entertaining story of a Scot coping in Italy, through the good and the not so good.
Under A Dancing Star
By Laura Wood
It’s 1930 in England and Bea has grown up knowing one day she will have to marry someone her parents choose. Someone not to her tastes but rich to keep the family estate alive. But Bea longs for more. She wants excitement, adventure, romance and travel. She gets the opportunity to spend the summer in Italy with her bohemian uncle and a whole new world opens up to her. When she meets cocky young artist Ben, sparks fly between them and they try to have the perfect summer romance without falling in love.
Our Italian Journey
By Ilene and Gary Modica
Ilene and Gary sold almost everything they owned so they could spend a year in Italy, the home of Gary’s grandparents. Our Italian Journey is their travel memoir of an adventure that changed their lives. Through humour they share their experiences of how this Arizona couple explored quaint villages to eat and drink their way around Italy.
Call Me By Your Name
By Andre Aciman
A book so good it’s now a major Motion Picture, Call Me By Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a male guest at his parent’s cliffside mansion in the Italian Riviera. Both are unprepared for the consequences of their attraction but during the summer weeks their desire and passion increases. While this book is a beautiful story of passion and obsession, it can be a little graphic in parts.
Four Seasons in Rome
By Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr was excited to win an award that gave him the opportunity to spend a year in Rome. It’s just a shame that it happened on the same day his wife gave birth to twins. Four Seasons in Rome is a wonderful recollection of Doerr’s adventures not only in one of the most enchanting cities in the world, but also his first year of parenthood.
The Venice Sketchbook
By Rhys Bowen
Set in Venice during WWII, Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage. But after her great-aunt dies she leaves her a sketchbook, three keys and a request for her ashes to be scattered in Venice. Caroline heads to Venice to scatter her aunt Lettie’s ashes in the city she loved and to unlock the mysteries that have been stored away for more than sixty years. Caroline begins a journey to unlock Lettie’s life while her own self-discovery begins.
Love and Gelato
By Jenna Evans Welch
Lina’s mother is dying and it is her dying wish for her 16 year-old daughter to live in Tuscany to get to know the father she never met. Lina has a good life in Seattle and can’t help but wonder why her mother waited so long to tell her about her father. When she arrives at her fathers, she is given a diary that once belonged to her mother. With the help of Ren, her handsome neighbour, Lina follows the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her like never bother. Not only that, she finds out the truth about her father, while also finding out about herself.
Murder in Matera
By Helene Stapinski
Since she was a child, Helene Stapinski had heard lurid tales about her great-great-grandmother Vita who had murdered someone. As a writer, Helene gets more obsessed with the story and heads to Italy determined to set the record straight. Finding answers took Helene ten years and numerous trips but the identities of the killer and victim weren’t who she thought they were. And in revisiting the events of more than a century before, Helen came to realise she is not who she thought she was either.
By Alberto Moravia
Agostino is 13-years-old and spending the summer in Tuscany with his widowed mother. When she takes up a new companion, Agostino begins to feel ignored and unloved which leads him to hang around with a group of local young toughs. Even though the group tease him about his ignorance of women and sex, Agostino is drawn to the gang and its rough games. He hopes they will help him sever the thread that binds him to his mother, no matter the cost.
You, Me and Italy
By Sue Roberts
Maisie Knight had the dream life. A gorgeous husband, successful business and a beautiful home. Then one day she catches her husband cheating and her perfect life is shattered. Luckily she wins a holiday to Italy when she needs it most and brings along her besties, Cheryl and Emma. Maisie enjoys the Tuscan sun, Italian food and gorgeous scenery and feels like maybe she can forget her troubles after all. That is until her past catches up with her, reopening old wounds. Maisie has a life-changing choice to make but what will she choose?
I’m Not Scared
By Niccolo Ammaniti
It’s 1978 in southern Italy and the summer has been relentlessly hot. While the adults stay inside, six children explore the scorched wheat fields in their tiny village and come across a dilapidated farmhouse. However, nine-year-old Michele makes a discovery so momentous, he doesn’t dare tell a soul. A secret poor Michele doesn’t fully understand but yet makes him question everything around him and brings his whole world toppling down.
Eating My Way Through Italy
By Elizabeth Minchilli
Elizabeth has spent a lifetime living and eating in Rome and is somewhat of an expert on the city’s cuisine. And while she’s proud to share everything about Rome, she now wants to show her readers what each region of Italy has to offer. Eating My Way Through Italy celebrates the gastronomic differences in the world’s favourite cuisine. With personal anecdotes and stories, as well as recipes, this is a great book for food lovers.
Living in a Foreign Language
By Michael Tucker
Michael Tucker is an American actor most known for his role in LA Law. Living in a Foreign Language tells the story of how he and his wife, actress Jill Eikenberry, purchased a small cottage and found a home in rural Umbria. He shares the struggles to understand the nuances of Italian culture and how the couple built a new life for themselves in the Italian countryside.
That Month in Tuscany
By Inglath Cooper
Ren Sawyer and Lizzy Harper couldn’t be more different. He’s a rock star with a secret he can no longer live with and she’s just a regular person whose husband stood her up for a long planned anniversary trip. During a flight to Italy, untimely turbulence literally drops Lizzy into Ren’s lap. The pair soon realise that while they may seem different, they actually have an undeniable pull between them. A pull that leads them to remember who they once were before letting themselves be changed.
By Roberto Saviano
Gomorrah is a bold investigative writing about the true story of the renowned crime organisation in Camorra. Known by the insiders as ‘the System’, they have a large global reach and large stakes in construction, high fashion, illegal drugs and toxic waste disposal. Robert Saviano worked in a Chinese textile manufacturer and construction site owned by ‘the System’ and recalls seeing his first murder at the age of fourteen. Gomorrah reveals the dark, hidden secrets of this crime organisation.
An Italian Holiday
By Maeve Heran
An entertaining read about four very different women find themselves thrown together in a villa in southern Spain. The ladies have escaped England for different reasons. To escape an overbearing husband, an embarrassingly public loss of a company, a controlling mother and a husband’s affair with a young girl. Through ups and downs they begin to discover things about themselves that they never would have done if they stayed in England.
Into The Burning Dawn
By Natalie Meg Evans
It’s 1940 and twenty-one-year-old Imogen Fitzgerald is a nanny working for a grand family home in Naples when World War Two breaks out. As an Englishwoman she seems to have become an enemy of Italy overnight. She should escape but with her employer away, she refuses to leave the two innocent children in her care. Hopefully her dark hair and perfect Italian can protect her true identity.
Three Days in Florence
By Chrissie Manby
Kathy has never been to Florence when she is invited there for a wedding with her boyfriend Neil, she is ecstatic at the chance to visit with him. However, the romantic break is not quite what she envisioned, what with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow. But a mix-up with the flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city and she decides to embrace it and stay on alone. The next few days are life-changing for Kathy as she begins to question the choices that led her here. Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness or is she destined to return to her old life?
Letters from Calabria
By Marty Sturino
Not your traditional tourist guide, Letters from Calabria is designed for those interested in visiting or learning more about Calabria. Consisting of twenty letters with twenty stories, they describe life in Calabria. A light hearted read, the stories describe the people, customs, climate and cuisine for friends, relatives and travelers who have yet to visit Calabria.
A Florentine Death
By Michele Giuttari
The first book in the Michele Ferrara Series, and Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara fears that behind the beautiful surface of his adopted city, Florence, there hides a dark side. When he is called to investigate a series of brutal and apparently random murders, his suspicions are confirmed. Distrusted by his superiors, time is running out for Ferrara. Is there a connection between the murders and the threatening letters he has received? Ferrara confronts the underbelly of Florence in an investigation that will put not only his career on the line but also his life.
Pasta, Pane, Vino
By Matt Goulding
More than just a cookbook, Matt Goulding has investigated Italian cuisine. Town by town, bite by bite, he brings Italy to life through intimate portraits of its food culture. Pasta, Pane, Vino captures the breathtaking diversity of Italian food. With incredible stories like the three globe-trotting brothers who became the mozzarella kings of Puglia and the Barolo boys who turned the hilly Piedmont into one of the world’s greatest wine regions.
Italy Ever After
By Leonie Mack
After her divorce, Lou feels battered and bruised. Her confidence and sense of fun have slowly been draining away and she isn’t sure who she is anymore. When there’s an opportunity to accompany her daughter Edie on a music camp to Italy for a month, Lou jumps at the chance. A new adventure in the summer sun is exactly what she needs. Edie’s music teacher Nick loves being home in Italy and coaching his students but returning is bringing back difficult memories. Thankfully his blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction. But can a summer romance last a lifetime?
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
By Mark Sullivan
Pino Lella is just a normal Italian teenager so wants nothing to do with the war on the Nazis. But when his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps. This is how he meets Anna and falls in love with the beautiful widow six years his senior. In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier. But after Pino is injured he is recruited to become the personal driver for Adolf Hiter’s left hand in Italy. With an opportunity to spy for the Allies, Pino endures the horrors of the war by fighting against them in secret. His courage is bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy
By Chris Harrison
When Christ travelled from Sydney to Dublin, he never imagined his life was about to change. In Dublin he meets Daniela and it’s love at first sight. He happily follows her to her hometown of Andorano, Pulglia in southern Italy. With the whitewashed houses, olive groves and cobblestoned lanes it seems perfect but Chris must get to grips with everyday Italian life. He learns to deal with the infuriating bureaucracy, an anarchic road system and Daniela’s mother, who is determined to convert him to the Catholic faith.
By Carlo Lucarelli
There is a serial killer terrorising the people of Bologna and rookie Detective Inspector Grazia Negro is determined to solve the case. She has a witness who can identify the killer but the witness is blind. With Simone’s acute hearing it’s up to the pair to stop the killer before he closes in on Simone.
My Italian Bulldozer
By Alexander McCall Smith
Writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to escape the stressful city life so he can finish his already late book. However, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his rental car is nowhere to be found and there is no record of any reservation. With no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is until a stranger offers him an unexpected alternative; a bulldozer. Paul accepts the bulldozer and heads for a hilarious adventure around the Italian countryside.
By Richard Hough
Rita’s War tells the incredible true story of one woman coming of age against the backdrop of the Second World War. From her sheltered upbringing as a young Jew in the cosmopolitan seaport of Trieste, to her first tentative encounters with the Jewish underground movement. Rita’s War is a story of migration and hope, persecution and despair, courage, heroism and betrayal.
Under the Tuscan Sun
By Frances Mayes
Frances Mayes is a poet, gourmet cook and travel writer. When she buys an abandoned villa in Tuscany, she has no idea of the scale of the project she is embarking on. In this enchanting memoir she shares her journey to restore a crumbling villa and build a new life for herself in the Italian countryside. With hilarious cultural misunderstandings, legal frustrations and the challenges of renovating a house that seems determined to remain a ruin, Frances’ story will have you smiling and laughing.
The Secrets of Villa Rosso
By Linn B. Halton
When Ellie Maddison gets sent on a business trip to southern Italy, she’s reminded of why she loves her job. Set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But Ellie is not prepared for the instant connection she feels with the estate’s director Max Jackson. It’s not long before she finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie’s life forever.
Midnight in Sicily
By Peter Robb
Sicily is home to ancient cultures, gorgeous landscapes and coastlines that has been seducing travellers for centuries. But at the heart of this beauty is a network of violence and corruption. Peter Robb is a writer who lived in southern Italy for fourteen years who sets out to shed light on southern Italy’s legacy of political corruption and violent crime.
By Lisa Scottoline
Elisabetta, Marco and Sandro grew up as the best of friends, despite their differences. Over time their friendship blossoms to love with both Sandro and Marco hoping to win Elisabetta’s heart. But everything begins to change with the War and everything the three hold dear is tested in ways they never could have imagined. Against the backdrop of World War II, the intertwined fates of Elisabetta, Marco, Sandro and their families will be decided in this heartbreaking story of loyalty and loss.
A Small Place in Italy
By Eric Newby
In 1967, travel writer Eric Newby and his wife Wanda fulfilled their dream of returning to a life in the Italian hills where they first met. However, this dream would not come easy for the couple. With a decrepit farmhouse with no roof, an abandoned septic tank and wildlife reluctant to give up their home, they had their challenges to face. But with laughs and tears along the way this ramshackle would soon become a hub of love, friendship and activity.
The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club
By Marlena de Blasi
Every Thursday evening a group of four rural Italian women gather in an old stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. With Marlena, they’ll cook together, sit down with a delicious meal and drink their beloved local wines. Surrounded by candle light, they will tell Marlena their stories of love and loss, of aging and abandonment. They will share cherished recipes that have been passed down through generations. Around this table these five women share their food and all that life has to offer them. The good and the bad.
A Quiet Death in Italy
By Tom Benjamin
After the body of a radical protester is found dead, floating in one of Bologna’s underground canals, it seems most of the city is ready to blame the police. But when Daniel Leicester, private investigator and son-in-law to a former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man’s lover he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the present day political establishment. The beautiful city of Bologna has a dark underside and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption.
The Birth of Venus
By Sarah Dunant
It’s the 1400s and Alessandra is fourteen when her father brings a young painter back from Holland to adorn the walls of the new family chapel. She is fascinated by his talents and envious of his opportunity to paint to the glory of God. Soon her love of art and her lively independence lures her closer into the taboo areas of life. In Florence she witnesses the rise of the fiery young priest, Savanarola, who has set out to rid the city of vice, including art.
Living in Italy: The Real Deal
By Stef Smulders
In 2008 Stef Smulder, his partner Nico and their dog Saar emigrated to Italy to start a new life. They sold their home, left their friends and family and took a leap into the unknown to set up their own B&B in Italy. In this hilarious memoir, Stef shares their experience in a collection of witty short stories showing the trials and tribulations of emigration.
The Things We Cherished
By Pam Jenoff
Roger Dykmns is a university student living with his brother Hans, an international emissary who’s secretly working against the Nazis. As time goes by, Rogers finds himself increasingly drawn to Magda, Hans’ Jewish wife and the pair are soon involved in a passionate love affair. However, their secret world is turned upside down when Madga and her young daughter Anna are arrested by the Nazis. The Gestapo make a deal with Roger. If he hands over information about Hans’ operation, they’ll set Magda and Anna free. He is faced with a huge dilemma. Should he betray his brother to save the woman they both love?
There you have it, 50 of the best books set in Italy to help inspire your next trip. Which will you read first? Any books not on the list that you love? Let me know in the comments below…
Do these books make you want to plan a trip to Italy? These posts may help
Do you enjoy reading location specific books? Why not check out these post:
- 40 Books Set in New York
- 40 Books Set in Spain
- 35 Books Set in France
- 35 Books Set in London
- 25 Books Set in Bali
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