A Room With a View, E.M. Forster, 1908
A young, repressed Edwardian pianist, Lucy Honeychurch, unlaces her corset once she travels to Florence chaperoned by her cousin, and falls in love with George Emerson, with whom she eventually elopes.
The Birth of Venus, Sarah Dunant, 2003
Dunant’s intoxicating historical novel of fifteenth-century Florence captures the sweep of the Medici’s decadent rule, and the individual coming-of-age of a fourteen-year-old girl, Alessandra Cecchi.
Death of an Englishman: A Marshal Guarnaccia Investigation, Magdalen Nabb, 2001
An elegant, stylish, character-driven police procedural from the series that makes the city of Florence come alive with Nabb’s description of this Tuscan Maigret.
Bella Tuscany, Frances Mayes, 2000
A California poet does the Tuscan fixer-upper narrative with great charm and grace–and tucks in to such repasts as pasta with wild boar sauce–in her follow-up to Under the Tuscan Sun.
Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture, Ross King, 2000
Exceeding London’s St. Paul’s and Rome’s St. Peter’s, Brunelleschi’s Florentine dome, with its 140-foot span at the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori, is an architectural achievement, and the story of its fifteenth-century creation is equally fascinating.
Oriana Fallaci: The Woman and the Myth, Santo L’Arico, 1998
A biography of the famed anti-fascist Florentine journalist.
The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli, 1513
The essential political treatise by Florence’s native son (and early international pundit), which he wrote after Lorenzo de’ Medici fired him from government service.
The Stones of Florence, Mary McCarthy, 1954
American prose stylist McCarthy’s affectionate tribute to one of her favorite cities includes descriptions of art, famous locals from Dante to Donatello and historical background.
Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, 1996
A woman’s enchanting account of her love affair with Italy and the home that changes her life.
Architect Robert Kahn’s City Secrets: Rome and City Secrets: Florence, Venice and the Towns of Italy.
Italian Hours, Henry James, 1909
Spanning nearly forty years, these charming and insightful collected essays contain the noted author’s views on Italy, with two other essays and an introduction added to this anthology.
Italian Journey, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1786-1788
The famed German writer’s letters and journals from his thirty-seventh year, spent in Italy, a period abroad that saw him writing about literature and art and turning down classicism in his own artistic development.
Desiring Italy, edited by Susan Cahill, 1997
Twenty-eight women writers’ anthology (such as Kate Simon, Elizabeth Spencer, Shirley Hazzard, etc.) about their stories in Italy, and what makes the country so seductive to women. The stories (some are fiction, others memoirs, and others essays) are organized geographically –from northern Italy to Rome and on to the south.
The Italians, Luigi Barzini, 1964
Called an “invaluable and astringent guidebook,” by The New Yorker, this book by the bestselling Italian author, publisher and politician tries to get a handle on the national character and dissect the myths of Italian charm and living la dolce vita.
Italian Days, Barbara Grizutti Harrison, 1985
Divided into 8 chapters, covering Milan to Sicily, the essayist’s critical, detailed, richly observed travel book is comprehensive, revealing and lyrical.
The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain, 1869
A satiric look at a citizen of the New World encountering the old, this travel journal — originally published as newspaper dispatches — documents Twain’s cruise on the Quaker City to Europe and the Holy Land among religious pilgrims.
La Bella Figure: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind, Beppe Severgnini, 2006
The Italian newspaper columnist presents an episodic, often hilarious, look at his fellow countrymen – including a chapter on entire chapter on car sex in Naples!
A Room with a View, James Ivory, 1985
A favorite, and among the most delicious of the Merchant Ivory films, the romance starring Julian Sands, Daniel Day Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith captures E.M. Forster’s infatuation with the sun-drenched city on the Arno.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, Carol Reed, 1965
Charlton Heston takes artistic license in this historical biography of Florentine artist Michelangelo’s struggles to paint the Sistine Chapel, urged on by Pope Julius.
Tea with Mussolini, Franco Zefferelli, 1999
A semi-autobiographical movie about an Italian businessmen’s illegitimate son, Luca, raised by an Englishwoman (Joan Plowright) and her ex-pat circle.
Under the Tuscan Sun, Audrey Wells, 2003
In this gooey yet irresistible chick-flick, Diane Lane glows as a heartsick, recently-divorced writer who gets her groove back in Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
The Daughter of Siena, Marina Fiorato, 2011 — Set in the 18th century at the Palio, the infamous horse race between different neighborhoods in Siena, The Daughter of Siena follows a forbidden romance between a jockey and a duchess of opposing regions.
Where Angels Fear to Tread, E.M. Forster, 1905 — An insightful tale into human behavior, Where Angels Fear to Tread follows the wealthy Herriton family. Horrified by their daughter’s relationship with a poor Italian, they decide to send their son to Tuscany to stop the marriage.
Up at the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham, 1941 — A short and quickly moving novella, Up at the Villa tells the story of a wealthy British woman and the twists her life takes once she meets a dashing stranger on her drive home in Tuscany.
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje, 1992 — Set during World War II, this novel brings together four people, including a badly burned man, presumed to be English, at an Italian villa.
A Small Place in Italy, Eric Newby, 1998 — Eric Newby’s memoir reflects on his life moving with his wife to a Tuscan farmhouse and the delights and quirks of rural Tuscan life.
Seven Seasons in Siena, Robert Rodi, 2011 — This insightful and humorous memoir follows Robert Rodi, an American writer, who falls in love with and moves to Siena—and his subsequent challenge to be accepted by the Sienese.
Images and Shadows: Part of a Life, Iris Origo, 2015 — In her autobiography Images & Shadows, Iris Origo tells the story of her privileged transnational childhood – growing up between Long Island, Ireland, and Tuscany – and her purchase and work on La Foce, a valley in rural Tuscany, where she improved the land and changed the lives of many of those less fortunate.
Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, 1996 — A woman’s enchanting account of her love affair with Italy and the home that changes her life
Under the Tuscan Sun, 2003 — In this gooey yet irresistible chick flick, Diane Lane glows as a heartsick, recently-divorced writer who gets her groove back in Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
Up at the Villa, 2000 — This suspenseful movie set in the Tuscan countryside follows a young British woman who, after being proposed to by an older aristocrat, becomes embroiled in a crime with a dashing and wealthy stranger. The film stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Sean Penn.
The English Patient, 1996 — Starring Ralph Fiennes, this movie version of the book of the same name won nine Oscars, including Best Picture.