Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Eleven Books Set in Italy I Hope to Read This Spring

See what they all have in common?

Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year by Carlo Levi
It was to Lucania, a desolate land in southern Italy, that Carlo Levi—a doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of letters—was confined as a political prisoner because of his opposition to Italy's Fascist government at the start of the Ethiopian war in 1935. While there, Levi reflected on the harsh landscape and its inhabitants, peasants who lived the same lives their ancestors had, constantly fearing black magic and the near presence of death. In so doing, Levi offered a starkly beautiful and moving account of a place and a people living outside the boundaries of progress and time.

The Seasons of Rome: A Journal by Paul Hofmann
Delving into the daily life of a city that is in so many ways larger than life, Paul Hofmann steers us beyond the tourist board, revealing a fetish for Vatican gossip, the idiosyncrasies of the gattare (cat women who care for the city's stray cats), and the vagaries of the ever-volatile Roman government. As he winds through Rome's ancient streets, we listen with him to the voices of the city, past and present, and we discover with him the intricacies and the beauty of Italy's finest city.

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
Brunelleschi's Dome is the story of how a Renaissance man bent men, materials, and the very forces of nature to build an architectural wonder. Not a master mason or carpenter, Filippo Brunelleschi was a goldsmith and clock maker. Over twenty-eight years, he would dedicate himself to solving puzzles of the dome's construction. In the process, he did nothing less than reinvent the field of architecture. He engineered the perfect placement of brick and stone (some among the most renowned machines of the Renaissance) to carry an estimated seventy million pounds hundreds of feet into the air, and designed the workers' platforms and routines so carefully that only one man died during the decades of construction. This drama was played out amid plagues, wars, political feuds, and the intellectual ferments of Renaissance Florence - events Ross King weaves into a story to great effect.

A Traveller in Italy by H. V. Morton
The Tuscan landscape, writes H. V. Morton, "is embroidered everywhere by human living, and there is scarcely a hill, a stream, a grove of trees, without its story of God, of love or death." Morton's stories and observations of Tuscany, Lombardy, Emilia, and Veneto, whether relating to the fantastic reconstruction of the La Scala opera house or the superstitious lovers at Juliet's Tomb, make his style as engaging as the landscape and people he evokes.

Aldabra, the Tortoise Who Loved Shakespeare by Silvana Gandolfi
"The way to outsmart death, Elisa dear, is to turn into something else," says Elisa's grandmother, an actress with a flair for the dramatic. But when it seems as if Nonna might actually be changing literally, Elisa must uncover a series of mysteries: why is it that her mother and her grandmother don't talk? Where is the exotic island of Aldabra - and how can it help her grandmother? Who is the man on the internet so eager to know the details of Nonna's transformation? And how will it all work out? Find out in Gandolfi's sparkling tale of love, magic, and moxie on the canals of Venice.

One Summer Day in Rome: A Novel by Mark Lamprell
Mark Lamprell's One Summer Day in Rome is an enchanting novel about three couples drawn irresistibly to Rome, narrated by the city itself. Alice, an art student in New York City, has come to Rome in search of adventure and inspiration before settling down with her steady, safe fiancé. Meg and Alec, busy parents and successful business people from LA, are on a mission to find the holy grail, a certain blue tile that will make their home renovation complete—but soon it becomes clear that their marriage needs a makeover as well. Connie and Lizzie are women of a certain age—“Sometimes I look at my laughter lines and wonder what on earth could have been that funny”—who come from London to scatter the ashes of their beloved husband and brother. Both women are seemingly done with romance, but Rome has other ideas.

The Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari
Emilio Salgari’s masterpiece, a swashbuckling revenge novel set in the Caribbean; one of the world’s first pirate classics. An Italian nobleman turns pirate to avenge the murder of his brothers. His foe: an old Flemish army officer named Van Guld, now the Governor of Maracaibo. The Corsair is relentless, vowing never to rest until he has killed the traitor and all those that bear his name. To help him in his quest, the Black Corsair enlists the greatest pirates of his time: L'Ollonais, Michael the Basque, and a young Welshman named Henry Morgan...

Marcovaldo/The Seasons in the City by Italo Calvino
Marcovaldo is an unskilled worker in a drab industrial city in northern Italy. He is an irrepressible dreamer and an inveterate schemer. Much to the puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbors, he chases his dreams-but the results are never the expected ones.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives.

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

Answer: All of these books are set in Italy.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


  1. Nice! All totally new to me ones! I hope you get to read them all this Spring!

    Here's my Tuesday Post

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

  2. Well you'll certainly be ready for your trip if you get through all these! Good luck.

  3. What fun! I hope you get to many, if not all of these. I can see why you chose them. :-) I would love to travel to Italy someday. Beautiful Ruins is one I have heard great things about as well as Elena Ferrante's work. Enjoy, Deb! Have a great week.

  4. I really got into BEAUTIFUL RUINS...I kept thinking of the theme of ruins as I read it, too.

  5. This is great list - and just looking at the covers the book make me wanna travel! I want to read Elena Ferrante this year too.

  6. I hope you enjoy all the books on your list.

  7. Haha yes I'm sensing a theme with all these books. But what better theme than Rome and Italy?? None, I think. Great list! I hope you enjoy them all.

    My TTT: https://tsundokubooks.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/top-ten-books-on-my-spring-tbr.html

  8. You are really immersing yourself in Italy! Good for you! Bet it makes your trip so much more enjoyable. I'll watch for your thoughts on these books!

  9. Have you just been or are you planning a trip to Italy?
    It's a great reading list for the literate traveller :-)

  10. You are so in "Italy" mode! I can't wait to see photos from your vacation!

  11. I love the Italian theme! One Summer Day in Rome sounds especially good to me, but I'll read pretty much anything that is set in Italy.

  12. This is a bunch of books. I hope, you enjoy them.
    Best, Synnöve
    P.S. Yes, I was at the book fair in my hometown.

  13. This puts a whole new spin on "preparing for a trip."


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