Suggested Reading List
A Traveller's History of Italy
Author: Valerio Lintner
Description: A brief history of Italy through the 1990s -- wide-ranging, accessible and necessarily condensed. With a useful chronology and historical gazetteer, this book marches confidently through the centuries.
A Valley in Italy, The Many Seasons of a Villa in Umbria
Author: Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Description: This short memoir chronicles a year in the small Umbrian village of San Orsola--especially the delights and frustrations of renovating a decayed villa. Taking in food, wine, local customs and landscapes, the book is an excellent introduction to the region
Author: Barry Unsworth
Description: Unsworth's vivid novel takes in the history, landscape, pleasures and the other Americans and Europeans, like himself, who live in Umbria.
D.H. Lawrence and Italy
Author: D.H. Lawrence
Description: This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence's three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence's memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia.
Every Pilgrim's Guide to Assissi
Author: Judith Dean
Description: With travel tips and an introduction for those wishing to discover more about Frances and Clare, this handy pocket guide covers not just Assisi and the Basilica of St. Francis but also easy excursions father afield, including The Hermitage (Carceri), Rivotorto, the sanctuaries of the Rieti Valley, Gubbio, Perugia and Cortona.
Eyewitness Guide Umbria
Author: Eyewitness Guides
Description: A marvelously illustrated, compact guide to the culture, history and attractions of Umbria, organized geographically and especially helpful for its innovative site plans, building diagrams and local maps.
Italy in Mind
Author: Alice Powers
Description: A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
Author: Beppe Severgnini
Description: Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.
Mysteries of the Middle Ages, And the Beginning of the Modern World
Author: Thomas Cahill
Description: Cahill deftly evokes the historic glories of the major medieval figures (and the places they frequented) in this illuminating overview of philosophy, art and literature.
On The Road with Francis of Assisi
Author: Linda Bird Francke
Description: Assisi wandered for 20 years, affording Newsweek editor Francke and her patient husband plenty to see and do in the piazzas, sanctuaries and chapels of Assisi, Siena, Bologna, Venice, Gubbio, Rome and other choice spots.
Author: Michael Dibdin
Description: Venetian crime investigator Aurelio Zen goes after the kidnappers of a Perugian industrialist in this enjoyable thriller, winner of the Gold Dagger Award (and first book in the series).
Reluctant Saint, The Life of Francis of Assisi
Author: Donald Spoto
Description: Spoto draws on fascinating new research to explore the travels, spirit and work of the beloved saint. This engaging portrait provides an excellent overview of the life of St. Francis.
Rick Steves' Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary
Author: Rick Steves
Description: This compact phrase book, organized thematically and with a brief dictionary, also includes Steves' insight into how to break the ice and make friends around the world.
Songbirds, Truffles and Wolves, An American Naturalist in Italy
Author: Gary Paul Nabhan
Description: The author, a poet and naturalist, heads along the Franciscan Way from Florence to Assisi. This most unusual travelogue combines natural history, spirituality and a lively appreciation of local food and food traditions. A print-on-demand paperback.
The Art of the Renaissance
Author: Peter Murray
Description: A classic, illustrated survey of the world of the Renaissance and its art. With chapters on Florence and its artists, the Netherlands, early illustrated books and many individual artists.
The Italian Renaissance
Author: J. H. Plumb
Description: A well-written history of the Renaissance, its artists and thinkers, with chapters on Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Women of the Renaissance.
Umbria Regional Map
Author: Touring Club Italiano
Description: A detailed map at a scale of 1:200,000.