If you are planning on a trip to Italy, this is the season to read up on numerous great books about the culture, history and la vita Italiano.
The reference I most strongly recommend is Christopher Hibbert’s definitive The House of Medici-Its Rise and Fall. Hibbert deftly guides the reader through the intricacies of everything from the Medici family tree, political intrigue and ‘the end of the line’ in easy to read prose. Truly a must for those who plan on spending time in bella Firenze.
Inferno: Dan Brown’s most recent book, this one does describe various parts of the city in very vivid detail.
The Stones of Florence: Mary McCarthy’s landmark 1956 book is still a wonderful read to get a great perspective on the city, its sites and history.
Heading south – Naples or Sicily
Elena Ferrante, The Neapolitan Quartet. In this day and age, no one beats Elena’s ability to capture Neapolitan life so vividly and in such lucid style.
The Ancient Shore. Shirley Hazzard’s lifelong love with Naples comes through in a unique framework of the ancients who established colonies here in the era’s past. A very good read with an unusual perspective.
Sicily, 3o00 Years of Human History: Sandra Benjamin’s ability to translate the complex story of Sicily’s tumultuous existence, from the indigenous cultures of the Sicanians and others through multiple occupations by other nations brings the island’s complex story to life. A great read if you are planning time on Sicily.
Venice in your plans?
Paradise of Cities: Venice in the Nineteenth Century. John Norwich’s remarkable book shares observations about the city as it began to attract visitors on the “Grand Tour”. My love of this book is that the author shares what Venice was and what it was destined to be, well in advance of the tourist hoards that arrive today. A very interesting perspective on the City in the Sea.
If Venice Dies: Salvatore Settis’s searing look at the terrible effects of cruise ships and tourists crowds descending on the city. Even if you are a cruise passenger, this book deserves your attention to a city in peril. I highly recommend. The book was released in Italian and an English translation by Andre Naffis-Sahely has brought the book to a whole new audience.
There are hundreds more. This will get you started!
Join us in Italy on one of our small group excursions across Italy. Four itineraries. Your own villa. Daily multi-lingual tour lead and support. Relax. Unwind. Come home again to Italy.