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Some suggested Holiday reading

Here are some books we’ve enjoyed, if you’re looking for some Italian-themed holiday reading.  You could also try contacting this excellent bookshop, which arranges its stock by country, for their suggestions:


Iris Origo, The Merchant of Prato – a very readable account of the daily life of a 14th century Tuscan merchant, based on the letters and documents in his archive.

Tom Holland, Rubicon – popular history recounting the end of the Roman Republic.

Rudolph M. Bell, How to do it – Italian social history based on Renaissance self help guides.

Matt Frei, Italy. The Unfinished Revolution – a series of essays taking an unsentimental look at modern Italy, by the BBC’s Rome correspondent of the mid 1990s.

Tobias Jones, The Dark Heart of Italy – a provocative and unashamedly polemical look at the darker aspects of modern Italy, centring on the figure of Berlusconi.

Ross King, Brunelleschi’s Dome - popular history of how the cupola of the Duomo in Florence was built.

Janet Kinrade Dethick, The Trasimene Line – how the allies fought their way up through Central Italy in the summer of 1944.


Umberto Eco, Baudolino – tall tales from the Middle Ages as recounted by a mendacious peasant.

Iain Pears, The Raphael Affair - novel about an art detective and the discovery of an unknown Raphael.

Barry Unsworth, Stone Virgin - an English art restorer in Venice is transported back to the world of the statue he is restoring.

Janice Elliott, The Italian Lesson - the English in Tuscany.

Anthony Capella, The Food of Love - a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, cast as a chef in modern-day Rome in which mouth-watering Roman cuisine, rather than poetry, is the food of love.

Niccolo Ammaniti, I’m not scared – young lad discovers a frightening secret in an abandoned Italian farmhouse.


Joan Marble, Notes from an Italian Garden - restoring a house and garden North of Rome.

Frances Mayes, Under The Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany – both books mix accounts of local life and food with the author’s experiences restoring a house in Cortona (also a film).


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