Suggested Reading List
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.
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.
Author: Ross King
Description: The story of the design and construction of the dome in the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a tale rife with politics, cut-throat competition and mighty inspiration.
Eyewitness Guide Italy
Author: Eyewitness Guides
Description: Another gem in the Eyewitness series, this superb guide is handsome, convenient and up-to-date. Featuring color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions.
Author: Borch Maps
Description: A convenient laminated map of Italy at a scale of 1:800,000 with excellent topographic detail, an index and large maps of Sicily and Sardinia.
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.
La Bella Lingua
Author: Dianne Hales
Description: Inebriated with the sounds of Italian, lovesick for its phrases and enamored of its earthy idioms, Hales, "a sensible woman of sturdy Polish stock," dives into the Italian of the piazza, literature, movies and streets in this charming memoir.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
Author: Ross King
Description: Presented with flair and backed by a wealth of research, King's captivating chronicle of Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel tells the story of its conception and creation.
Midnight in Sicily, On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra
Author: Peter Robb
Description: Combining interviews, research and essays on Sicilian history and culture, this vivid report by journalist Robb is a superb introduction to Italy's glorious, corrupt and troubled south.
On Persephone's Island
Author: Mary Taylor Simeti
Description: Strong on the delights of rural life, Simeti's portrait of Sicily takes the form of a year-long journal, capturing the spirit of the people, daily life, traditions and the land.
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 City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
Author: R.W.B. Lewis
Description: A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls "a partial biography of Florence," beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical.
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 Raphael Affair
Author: Iain Pears
Description: In the first of the popular Jonathan Argyll art mysteries, Argyll sneaks into a small church near Campo dei Fiori identify an undiscovered Raphael -- unfortunately for him, the painting has disappeared.
The World of Venice
Author: Jan Morris
Description: Morris displays her talent for research, telling anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited portrait of a beloved city, its history and inhabitants. If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite.