Suggested Reading List
A Room with a View
Author: E.M. Forster
Description: E.M. Forster's classic tale of love among the middle classes, set largely in Florence.
Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History
Author: Ada Gabucci (Editor)
Description: This lively, illustrated survey of Ancient Rome's monuments, history and art is a terrific introduction.
Author: Robert Hughes
Description: A Longitude favorite, this big, thoroughly enjoyable cultural history of the city touches on architecture, art, religion and literature from Roman outpost to the present.
Blue Guide Concise Italy
Author: Paul Blanchard
Description: The first ever guide to all of Italy by the venerable Blue Guides (which publishes individual guides to Northern, Southern, Central, Rome, Tuscany, Sicily et al), this lavishly illustrated, handy and compact guide covers key sights, museums, churches, art, dining and accommodations throughout Italy.
Colomba, A Corsican Story
Author: Prosper Merimee
Description: A powerful French novel, first published in 1840, by Merimee, best known as the author of Carmen.
Eyewitness Guide Provence & the Cote D'Azur
Author: Roger Williams
Description: This is an illustrated, colorful guide to the art and architecture, literature, history and attractions of Provence. With photographs and site plans, maps and sections on the Riviera, the Var, Bouches-du-Rhones, Vaucluse and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
Author: Berndtson & Berndtson
Description: A detailed, plastic-covered city map of Florence at a scale of 1:7,000.
Fodor's Barcelona's 25 Best
Description: This handy pocket guide includes an excellent map and essential information for a making the most of a short visit.
Fodor's Rome's 25 Best
Description: This shirt-pocket guide includes a map of the city and essential information on its highlights.
Homage to Catalonia
Author: George Orwell
Description: Orwell's portrait of the Barcelona uprising and the spirit of a city at war is a classic, an observant and heartfelt report from the streets.
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.
Author: Ocean Explorer Maps
Description: This handy color map of the Mediterranean from Spain to the Black Sea and the Levant puts ancient sites and historic ports into context. With notable people, a timeline and descriptions of dozens of places across the classical world, this map serves equally well for Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises.
Mediterranean by Cruise Ship
Author: Anne Vipond
Description: The best-selling, compact guide, featuring excellent local maps, hundreds of color photographs, concise background information and recommended excursions for ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean.
Author: Paul Johnson
Description: In just over 200 blistering pages, British historian Johnson not only traces the major events of the emperor's life, from his birth on Corsica to his death on St. Helena, but also exposes Napoleon's ruthless appetite for power and his naked opportunism.
Olive, A Global History
Author: Fabrizia Lanza
Description: Lanza provides an engaging, potted history of the modest fruit. The author explains the olive's use in cooking and ritual and its appearance in art, from Greek myth to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Also includes a selection of recipes.
Pillars of Hercules
Author: Paul Theroux
Description: Theroux seems to have had an exceptionally good time on his tour of the Mediterranean, circling the celebrated sea on foot, horseback, train and boat from Gibraltar to North Africa.
Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art
Author: A. Richard Turner
Description: A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.
The Ancient Mediterranean
Author: Michael Grant
Description: Grant explores the realms of archaeology, geography, art and economics to sketch this classic portrait of the ancient world, from prehistory through the Roman Imperium, and the influence on western civilization.
Author: Keith Hopkins, Mary Beard
Description: This engaging overview of the history of the Colosseum deconstructs Hollywood-perpetrated misconceptions of gladiator-eating lions, Nero fiddling and other myths.
The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall
Author: Christopher Hibbert
Description: A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.
The Middle Sea
Author: John Julius Norwich
Description: A marvelous writer who has already tackled Byzantium, the Normans in Sicily and Venice, Norwich spins his magic in this story of culture, trade and politics, royalty and rulers, wars and religion in the Mediterranean.
The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Description: Set in the brooding atmosphere of post-WW II Barcelona, this gripping story-within-a-story has it all: murder, doomed love and a mysterious book which draws the young hero, Daniel Sempere, into the city's dangerous underworld.
Two Towns in Provence
Author: M. F. K. Fisher
Description: Celebrated food writer M.F.K. Fisher contrasts village life in Aix-en-Provence with bustling Marseilles, evoking these two favorite places with anecdote and loving description.