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by Keith Hopkins, Mary Beard
This engaging overview of the history of the Colosseum deconstructs Hollywood-perpetrated misconceptions of gladiator-eating lions, Nero fiddling and other myths.
Venice: An Illustrated Miscellany
by Philippe Sollers
An illustrated literary stroll through the cultural heritage of Italy’s most romantic city that leads from Shakespeare through Henry James, Simone de Beauvoir and Antonio Vivaldi.
Venice from the Ground Up
by James H. S. McGregor
A walking tour, history and celebration, this masterly, personal guide to Venice includes a short account of McGregor's favorite sites, 10 maps and suggested walks (and boat rides).
Eyewitness Guide Italy
by Eyewitness Guides
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.
by Borch Maps
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.
The World of Venice
by Jan Morris
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.
An Artist in Venice
by Adam Van Doren
In this informative and charming memoir, Adam Van Doren, grandson of the Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Mark Van Doren, provides a personal and detailed account of his love affair with Venice. With 21 full-color drawings by the author, this is a must-have for anyone interested in Venice's rich aesthetic heritage.
Italy in Mind
by Alice Powers
A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.
Not Built in a Day, Exploring Rome and its Architecture
by George H. Sullivan
These 12 detailed walking tours celebrate Rome's buildings, fountains, piazzas, streets and archaeology with insight and enthusiasm.
Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History
by Ada Gabucci (Editor)
This lively, illustrated survey of Ancient Rome's monuments, history and art is a terrific introduction.
by Michael Dibdin
Zen is called to the Vatican to investigate the death of Prince Ludovico Ruspanti, who plunged from the roof of St. Peter's Basilica.
Four Seasons in Rome
by Anthony Doerr
Doerr captures the romance and challenge of living abroad in this lyrical memoir, invitingly subtitled "On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World."
The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall
by Christopher Hibbert
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.
Rome from the Ground Up
by James H. S. McGregor
A wonderfully erudite, in-depth guide to the architecture and history of Rome. With 88 color and 34 black-and-white photographs and 20 maps.
The Art of the Renaissance
by Peter Murray
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.
La Bella Lingua
by Dianne Hales
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.
The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
by R.W.B. Lewis
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.
Italian Venice, A History
by R. J. B. Bosworth
An elegant history of Venice after the loss of its statehood in 1789 at the hands of Napoleon. Bosworth introduces Venice's political unrests since that time, how Venice has modernized and the mal-effects of Global Climate Change and "Disneylandification."
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
by Beppe Severgnini
Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. The book opens with a snapshot of Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
by Ross King
King's colorful chronicle of the world's most famous ceiling paints a maniacal pope, a budding artist and a "who's who" of other 16th-century Italians (Raphael, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci). Presented with flair and backed by a wealth of research.
Frommer's EasyGuide to Rome, Florence and Venice
EasyGuides are full of practical, easy-to-absorb information and emphasize authentic experiences. This lightweight guide highlights important attractions with expert advice on accommodations and meals.
by Ross King
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.