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You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org
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Survival Kit for Overseas Living
With chapters on cultural baggage, stereotypes and common complaints of American expats, this intercultural classic is perfect for study abroad.
The Renaissance, A Short History
The history, background, literature, sculpture, paintings and architecture of the Renaissance in just over 200 lively, thought-provoking pages.
The Art of the Renaissance
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.
Saving Italy, The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis
In this intense history, Edsel brings readers into WWII-era Milan, the Vatican and beyond, discussing the near destruction of The Last Supper and other timeless works at the hands of the fascists.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
An overheated, page-turning fictionalized account of the life of master painter and sculptor Michelangelo -- and a good introduction to Renaissance Florence and Rome.
The Food Lover's Guide to Florence, With Culinary Excursions in Tuscany
Miller polled neighbors, friends, cooks and ordinary folk for this delectable guide to 125 eateries, organized by neighborhood.
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
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.
Fodor's Florence's 25 Best
This shirt-pocket guide includes an excellent map and essential information on the city's highlights, including sightseeing, restaurants and shopping.
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.
The Art of Travel
A digressive riff on desire, happiness and how best to experience travel by the Proust scholar and philosopher Alain de Botton who asks: "What is the point of traveling?"
A detailed, plastic-covered city map of Florence at a scale of 1:7,000.
The Great Beauty
After his 65th birthday, witty and arrogant novelist Jep Gambardella is blindsided by an ex-lover’s secret. He begins re-examining his lavish lifestyle (nightclubs, parties and cafes) and looking for a different side of Rome. Originally released in 2013.
In Other Words
In this complex memoir, award-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri moves to Rome and immerses herself in Italian. Her dual-language book chronicles her courtship with the language, the Italian culture and the difficulties of linguistic exile.
Architecture of the Renaissance, From Brunelleschi to Palladio
Originating in Florence, the flowering of architecture in 15th-century Italy revolutionized the look of European cities and the mindsets of their citizens. This lavishly illustrated pocket book presents the people, the time and its monuments in hundreds of color photographs and engravings.
Compact Oxford Italian Dictionary
This hefty companion covers more than 90,000 words and phrases with helpful sections on grammar and culture to better prepare the traveler for a visit to Italy.
D.H. Lawrence and Italy
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.
The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
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.
Wilde-Menozzi’s critically acclaimed novel explores traditional themes of expatriation, immigration and evil within the microcosm of late-20th century Florence and within the span of 15 hours.
La Bella Lingua
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.
Eyewitness Guide Florence & Tuscany
Superbly illustrated, this compact guide shows the neighborhoods, museums, shops and sites of Florence and surroundings in full color.
When Antonio Ricci is unable to find work and his bicycle is stolen, the man becomes desperate to support himself and his son. Set in Rome. Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall
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.
Widely believed to be his finest work, Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical look at a director who's lost his inspiration is a gorgeous and surrealistic masterpiece that dreamily blurs the line between reality and fantasy. Blu-ray edition.
Italy correspondent for The Economist Hooper explores Italy -- its baffling contradictions, unique character and contemporary culture -- in this illuminating portrait.
Tea With Mussolini
Zeffirelli's enchanting autobiographical film about a boy in Florence in the years before World War II, with a cast of great English and American actresses.
The Birth of Venus, A Novel
A rich novel of art, passion and patronage, memorably set in late 15th-century Florence and prominently featuring the famously pious reformer Savonarola.
La Dolce Vita
As his distraught girlfriend commits suicide and he becomes enamored with a film star (played by the beautiful Anita Ekberg), columnist-playboy Marcello searches for meaning. An enduring classic, set in Rome. Originally released in 1960.