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The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall
From Amazon: At its height Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family's huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de' Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florence's slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line.
The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian
From Amazon: After years of working on a string of sitcoms, Phil Doran found himself on the outside looking in. Just as he and his peers had replaced the older guys when he was coming up the ranks, it was now happening to him. And it was freaking him out. He came home every night angry, burned-out, and exhausted. After twenty-five years of losing her husband to Hollywood, Doran’s wife decided it was finally time for a change—so on one of her many solo trips to Italy she surprised her husband by purchasing a broken-down 300-year-old farmhouse for them to restore. The Reluctant Tuscan is about the author’s transition from being a successful but overworked writer-producer in Hollywood to rediscovering himself and his wife while in Italy, and finding happiness in the last place he expected. In the witty tone that made him a success as a writer in Hollywood, The Reluctant Tuscan captivates those who simply love a good travel narrative as well as anyone who loves the quirky humor of Bill Bryson, Dave Barry, and Jerry Seinfeld.
Tea with Mussolini
From Google: In 1930s fascist Italy, adolescent Luca (Charlie Lucas) just lost his mother. His father, a callous businessman, sends him to be taken care of by British expatriate Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright). Mary and her cultured friends -- including artist Arabella (Judi Dench), young widow Elsa (Cher), and archaeologist Georgie (Lily Tomlin) -- keep a watchful eye over the boy. But the women's cultivated lives take a dramatic turn when Allied forces declare war on Mussolini.
The Stones of Florence
From Amazon: Renowned for her sharp literary style, essayist and fiction writer Mary McCarthy offers a unique history of Florence, from its inception to the dominant role it came to play in the world of art, architecture, and Italian culture, that captures the brilliant Florentine spirit and revisits the legendary figures—Dante, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and others—who exemplify it so iconically. Her most cherished sights and experiences color this timeless, graceful portrait of a city that's as famous as it is alluring.
Insight Guide Tuscany
An illustrated guide in the popular series, noteworthy for its maps and illuminating essays on history, art, food and culture.
Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella)
From Google: A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with his charm and humor. Eventually they marry and have a son, Giosuè (Giorgio Cantarini). Their happiness is abruptly halted, however, when Guido and Giosuè are separated from Dora and taken to a concentration camp. Determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings, Guido convinces Giosuè that their time in the camp is merely a game.
Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743
From Amazon: A magnificent, never-before-published collection of every painting and fresco on display in the Uffizi, the Galleria Palatina of the Pitti Palace, the Accademia, and the Duomo, and more -- nearly 2,000 works of art -- all presented in a beautiful slipcased package.
A Room with a View
From Amazon: Helena Bonham Carter plays a young, independent-minded, upper-class woman who is trying to sort out her feelings, divided between a free spirit (Julian Sands) she meets on vacation and the bookworm (Daniel Day-Lewis) to whom she becomes engaged back home. Funny, sexy, and sophisticated, this art-house hit features a sublime supporting cast and remains a touchstone of intelligent romantic cinema.
The Scribe of Siena: A Novel
From Amazon: Equal parts transporting love story and gripping historical conspiracy, debut author Melodie Winawer takes readers deep into medieval Italy, where the past and present blur and a twenty-first century woman will discover a plot to destroy Siena. Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
From Amazon: On August 19, 1418, a competition concerning Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore--already under construction for more than a century--was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome....shall do so before the end of the month of September." The proposed dome was regarded far and wide as all but impossible to build: not only would it be enormous, but its original and sacrosanct design shunned the flying buttresses that supported cathedrals all over Europe. The dome would literally need to be erected over thin air.
The Renaissance: A Short History
From Amazon: The Renaissance holds an undying place in our imagination, its great heroes still our own, from Michelangelo and Leonardo to Dante and Chaucer. This period of profound evolution in European thought is credited with transforming the West from medieval to modern and producing the most astonishing outpouring of artistic creation the world has ever known. But what was it? In this masterly work, the incomparable Paul Johnson tells us. He explains the economic, technological, and social developments that provide a backdrop to the age’s achievements and focuses closely on the lives and works of its most important figures. A commanding short narrative of this vital period, The Renaissance is also a universally profound meditation on the wellsprings of innovation.
Siena: City of Secrets
From Amazon: Jane Tylus’s Siena is a compelling and intimate portrait of this most secretive of cities, often overlooked by travelers to Italy. Cultural history, intellectual memoir, travelogue, and guidebook, it takes the reader on a quest of discovery through the well- and not-so-well-traveled roads and alleys of a town both medieval and modern.
A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany
A Tuscany resident for 30 years, Elon presents 100 recipes from a hand-picked selection of favorite restaurants in this charming cookbook and travel guide. With 10 itineraries highlighting largely undiscovered regions of Tuscany, restaurants, trattorie, shops, wineries, olive oil producers, markets and food festivals.
Fodor's Florence 25 Best
From Amazon: Compact and affordable, Fodor's Florence's 25 Best is a great travel companion for travelers who want a light, easy-to-pack guidebook to one of Europe's most exciting cities. Recommendations, pull-out map, practical tips and phrases, gorgeous photos and maps, and trip-planning tools.
The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance
From Amazon: A dazzling history of the modest family that rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money, and ambition. Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning, Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence as well as the Italian Renaissance, which they did so much to sponsor and encourage. Interwoven into the narrative are the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola. In his enthralling study, Strathern also follows the fortunes of those members of the Medici family who achieved success away from Florence, including the two Medici popes and Catherine de' Medici, who became queen of France and played a major role in that country through three turbulent reigns.
The Most Beautiful Villages of Tuscany
From Amazon: A celebration of one of the most rich and varied landscapes in Europe, here are thirty-six villages and towns from all over Tuscany chosen both for their intrinsic beauty and for the part they have played in Tuscan history. Stand at the edge of a Tuscan hill village and gaze across one of the most extraordinarily rich and varied landscapes in Europe. There are vineyards producing the finest wine, and miles of wild mountain scenery; almost any view will take in other villages, clustering around the upper reaches of some hill, or the russet roofs of a fortified town deep in a valley.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
From Amazon: Irving Stone’s classic biographical novel of Michelangelo—the #1 New York Times bestseller in which both the artist and the man are brought to vivid, captivating life. His time—the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring Popes, and the all-powerful de' Medici family… His loves—the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi, and his last love, his greatest love—the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna... His genius—a God-driven fury from which he wrested brilliant work that made a grasp for heaven unmatched in half a millennium... His name—Michelangelo Buonarroti. Creator of the David, painter of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, architect of the dome of St. Peter's, Michelangelo lives once more in the tempestuous, powerful pages of Irving Stone's towering triumph. A masterpiece in its own right, this biographical novel offers a compelling portrait of one of the greatest artists the world has ever known.
Light in the Piazza
From Amazon: Meg Johnson (Olivia de Havilland) is eager to discover the glories of Italy with her beautiful daughter Clara (Yvette Mimieux), who was mentally impaired in a childhood accident.
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
From Amazon: You won’t need luggage for this hypothetical and hilarious trip into the hearts and minds of Beppe Severgnini’s fellow Italians. In fact, Beppe would prefer if you left behind the baggage his crafty and elegant countrymen have smuggled into your subconscious. To get to his Italia, you’ll need to forget about your idealized notions of Italy. Although La Bella Figura will take you to legendary cities and scenic regions, your real destinations are the places where Italians are at their best, worst, and most authentic: the highway, the airport, and the small town.
Tuscany in Mind: From Byron and the Brownings to Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Lowell, and Penelope Fitzgerald--Two Centuries of Great Writers Seduced by Tuscany
From Amazon: Tuscany in Mind assembles a glittering mosaic portrait of an unforgettable place: Kinta Beevor • James Boswell • Elizabeth Barrett Browning • Robert Browning • Lord Byron • Bruce Chatwin • Ann Cornelisen • Charles Dickens • Sarah Dunant • Lawrence Ferlinghetti • Penelope Fitzgerald • E. M. Forster • Laura Fraser • Paul Gervais • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison • Robert Hellenga • William Dean Howells • Henry James • Erica Jong • D. H. Lawrence • David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell • Robert Lowell • Frances Mayes • Mary McCarthy • H. V. Morton • Eric Newby • Iris Origo • John Ormond • Elizabeth Romer • John Ruskin • Mary Shelley • Percy Bysshe Shelley • Kate Simon • Tobias Smollett • Matthew Spender • Stephen Spender • Mark Twain • Edith Wharton