Italian Folktales collected by Italo Calvino (Folktales)
Filled with kings and peasants, saints and ogres—as well as some quite extraordinary plants and animals—these two hundred tales bring to life Italy’s folklore, sometimes with earthy humor, sometimes with noble mystery, and sometimes with the playfulness of sheer nonsense.
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino (Fantasy)
Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian nobleman of the eighteenth century, rebels against his parents by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. He adapts efficiently to an existence in the forest canopy—he hunts, sows crops, plays games with earth-bound friends, fights forest fires, solves engineering problems, and even manages to have love affairs. From his perch in the trees, Cosimo sees the Age of Enlightenment pass by and a new century dawn.
Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino (Fiction)
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 neighbours, he chases his dreams - but the results are never the ones he had expected.
Italian Days by Barbara Grizutti Harrison (Travel)
Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, noted essayist, journalist, and fiction writer, brings us a fascinating mixture of history, politics, folklore, food, architecture, arts, and literature, studded with local anecdotes and personal reflections. From modern, fashionable Milan; to beautiful, historic Rome with its modern traffic and, even today, its sudden displays of faith; to primitive, brooding Calabria, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison reveals in all its glory and confusion her Italy, the country of her origins, where the keys to her past are held by those who never left.
That Fine Italian Hand by Paul Hofmann (Nonfiction)
No other people over so long a history have shown a greater knack for survival than the Italians. In this wryly affectionate book, Hofmann reveals his adopted countrymen in all their glorious paradoxes, capturing their national essence as no other book has done since Luigi Barzini's classic, The Italians . The national art of "arrangement"-- dodging taxes, double-dealing, working only as hard as one must-- is counteracted by Italian inventive genius, gusto for life, fierce individuality, deep family bonds (as well as animosities), and a marvelously hedonistic sophistication.
A Thousand Bells at Noon by G. Franco Romagnoli (Foodie Memoir)
G. Franco Romagnoli was a mere youth when he left Rome for America, where he made a name for himself as a cookbook author, television personality, and restaurateur. But the love of his native city brought him back to Rome for an extended stay, allowing him to rediscover the sights, smells, and sounds of this urban paradise. In A Thousand Bells at Noon , Romagnoli shares with readers his visceral and emotional experiences in its ancient streets and modern shops; it parks; cafés, and hidden gardens; its grand public squares and sacred spaces. As he relives moments from his childhood, reconnects with old friends, and sees through new eyes a modern city steeped in history, you will fall in love with Romagnoli's Rome -- a wondrous place like no other on earth.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (Classic Fiction)
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. A huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s, Dumas was inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment when writing his epic tale of suffering and retribution.
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell (Historical Fiction)
Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.
Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now enter an unfamiliar court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?
Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Biography)
Michaelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King (History)
In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel in Rome. Despite having completed his masterful statue David four years earlier, he had little experience as a painter, even less working in the delicate medium of fresco, and none with challenging curved surfaces such as the Sistine ceiling's vaults. The temperamental Michelangelo was himself He stormed away from Rome, incurring Julius's wrath, before he was eventually persuaded to begin.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling recounts the fascinating story of the four extraordinary years he spent laboring over the twelve thousand square feet of the vast ceiling, while war and the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him.
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (Classic Fiction)
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her, until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?
The Italians by John Hooper (Nonfiction)
A vivid and surprising portrait of the Italian people from an admired foreign correspondent.
Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (Classic)
To escape the outbreak of the plague that ravished Europe in the 1340s, ten friends enclosed themselves in a castle outside Florence. To pass the time, they entertained one another with a series of stories: Ten stories over a period of ten days...
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (Classic)
The Divine Comedy is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise—the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation.
I'm eager to hear your recommendations
for my upcoming trip.
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.