books about/inspired by Italy

Jul 30th, 2002, 02:38 PM
  #1  
Keri
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books about/inspired by Italy

taking my first trip to italy in about a month and i'd love suggestions for books that people found enhanced their experience of the country (nonfiction, travel journal/memoir, cultural commentary, histroy). not necessarily guide books or art books, as i have plenty. thanks!
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 02:48 PM
  #2  
Grasshopper
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To start with, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Wallace. The book that started my love affair with Italy. Then "A World Lit Only by Fire" by William Manchester for a good understanding of the Renaissance and the development of modern man and thinking. For fun "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Francis Mayes and "Extra Virgin" by Annie Hawes to understand what it's like to move to Italy as an outsider. Last of all "As the Romans Do" by Alan Epstein for a reasonable view of some of the differences in the way Italians do things and the way Americans do.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:21 PM
  #3  
Emily
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I'm leaving for a first time trip to Italy in Sept. Have been reading the Travelers' Tales Series "Tuscany". Many different authors writing of their experience in Tuscany. Includes one of Frances Mayes chapters from Under the Tuscan Sun. I'm enjoying it. Also reading, Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 06:11 PM
  #4  
claire
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Images and Shadows and/or War in Val d'Orcia by Iris Origo, born in England and brought up there, in American and in Italy. She married an Italian and settled in Italy. Both of these books are autobiographical & she is a fine writer. The second one is a diary she kept during the harrowing war years. She decided not to annotate it after the fact, and it is a fascinating read. Her daughter, Benedetta, is the editor of a new garden book about Origo's home, La Foce. If you do an amazon search on Origo, you'll find she also has written some biographies, including one on Leopardi.

For the detective/murder mystery with a Venetian setting, try Donna Leon and/or Edward Sklepowich. You'll feel like you are in Venice!

Have a terrific time!
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 11:32 PM
  #5  
Jo
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I am reading the Colleen McCullough series on ancient Rome during the Republican era - an enthralling and fascinating read!
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 03:31 AM
  #6  
Alice Twain
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A few suggestions from an Italian bookseller.

Tim Parks, "A season vith Verona". Tim Parks is an expatriate who lives in Verona and has been following for one year the Verona Ac team supporters. Get in touch with main Italian fever: soccer!

Carlo Levi, "Christ stopped at Eboli". The author was a militant in one antifascist organization, and he was forced by the regime to live for one year at a small village in Lucania, once one of the poorest areas of Italy.

Grazia Deledda, "Reeds in the wind". Deledda was born in Sardinia and she wrote this novel about her own land. The histry might be compared to "Wuthering heights".

Luigi Barzini, "Italians". A self-portait of Italian people by an Italian famous ournalist.

Italo Calvino, "If on a winter's Night a Traveller...". Italo Calvino was one of the gratest Italian witers of the last century, with a strong drive towards fantastic novels. This is the adventure of two readers and a book.

Marco Paolini and Gabriele Vacis, "The history of Vajont". Marco Paolini is an actor, with Vacis he wrote a long monologue about one of the great catastrophes of XX century's Italy. The Vajont dam was bound to be the tallest dam in the world. The dam is still there, unused, but thousands people died and several villages were distroyed.

Mario Rigoni Stern, "The sergeant in the snow". At the age of 21 Mario Rigoni Ster was sent to Russia for the most distrous campaign of the fascist regime. Thiese are his memories.

Primo Levi, "If this is a Man" and " The Truce". Primo Levi spent several years in nazi lagers as a jew. this is the story of how he survived and how he managed to return home. you might have watched the movie outtaken from "The Truce" and starring John Turturro.

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: "The Leopard". A novel about Sicily becoming part of the Italian reign at the middle of the XIX century, of the new times against the old and of how everything must change in order for everything to remain the same.

Andrea Camilleri: "The terra-cotta doc" and "The Shape of Water". Two of the novels of the most acclaimed Italian mistery writer. A travel through modern Sicily.

Carlo Lucarelli, "Lamost blue". Another Italian mistery writer, a serial killer and a female detective in Bologna.

All these books are available in English.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 03:32 AM
  #7  
Alice Twain
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A few suggestions from an Italian bookseller.

Tim Parks, "A season vith Verona". Tim Parks is an expatriate who lives in Verona and has been following for one year the Verona Ac team supporters. Get in touch with main Italian fever: soccer!

Carlo Levi, "Christ stopped at Eboli". The author was a militant in one antifascist organization, and he was forced by the regime to live for one year at a small village in Lucania, once one of the poorest areas of Italy.

Grazia Deledda, "Reeds in the wind". Deledda was born in Sardinia and she wrote this novel about her own land. The histry might be compared to "Wuthering heights".

Luigi Barzini, "Italians". A self-portait of Italian people by an Italian famous ournalist.

Italo Calvino, "If on a winter's Night a Traveller...". Italo Calvino was one of the gratest Italian witers of the last century, with a strong drive towards fantastic novels. This is the adventure of two readers and a book.

Marco Paolini and Gabriele Vacis, "The history of Vajont". Marco Paolini is an actor, with Vacis he wrote a long monologue about one of the great catastrophes of XX century's Italy. The Vajont dam was bound to be the tallest dam in the world. The dam is still there, unused, but thousands people died and several villages were distroyed.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 04:40 AM
  #8  
Robert
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I highly recommend these 2 books:
"As The Romans Do: An American Family's Italian Odyssey" by Alan Epstein, and "Dances with Luigi: A Grandson's Determined Quest to Comprehend Italy and the Italians" by Paul Paolicelli.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 05:14 AM
  #9  
claire
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I strongly second that recommendation above of Dances with Luigi. Just finished it & wish it could have gone on & on! While I didn't like it as much, Pasquale's Nose was interesting as the author is a fine observer and writes anecdotes well. But, I certainly didn't care much for him as a "character" in his own book. Both of these books are fairly new and available in paperback.

There is a terrific book I can't recall the name of....something like Travels in Italy or Reflections on Italy...perhaps someone else here can recall the name, but I'm not sure....It is an anthology of excerpts from some of the best writing on Italy and it whets your appetite for more of each individual author's works. Excerpts from Origo's diary from the war years is included. The writers included are first rate. It is available in paperback.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 09:30 AM
  #10  
Ali
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The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe is an extraordinary book. You may especially enjoy it if you're headed to Capri.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 09:35 AM
  #11  
Jackie
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Claire:

Is it "Italy in Mind"? Another one, all women writers, is "Desiring Italy." both are great and filled with short enticing reads about Italy.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 11:18 AM
  #12  
Keri
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Thanks everyone for these great suggestions. I just checked a few of them out at the library. Now I'll just have to force myself to work instead of reading them all day!
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 12:17 PM
  #13  
claire
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Jackie,
That's it! Desiring Italy. Thanks!
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 01:41 PM
  #14  
Tony
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Seasons of Rome by Paul Hoffman. Mr Hoffman is a former Rome bureau chief of the New York Times and a long time Rome resident.
The book is kind of a one year journal, what goes on each month in Rome. I liked it very much. Read it before our trip in 1999.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 07:23 PM
  #15  
JohN G
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THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI-CONTINI'S by Georgio Bassani. It is the story of an aristocratic Jewish family in Ferrara at the start of WWII.
 
Jul 31st, 2002, 11:08 PM
  #16  
Vincenzo
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Not yet ready for reading, (it will be ready for Christams), I suggest: "Beachstones".
To improve knowledge of that land named " la penisola della Penisola ". In other words the magic land after Sorrento: Massa Lubrense.
And, anyway, a lovely story.
 
Aug 1st, 2002, 02:40 AM
  #17  
Alice Twain
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If you can read either Italian or Spanish, there is one book that I love although it is not exactly about Italy. Luther Blissett, "Q". www.wumingfoundation.com
 
Aug 7th, 2002, 08:01 PM
  #18  
Lori
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-Anything by Michael Dibdin--great mysteries that take place all over Italy (Piedmont, Venice, Sicily, Rome)

-Blood Washes Bood by Frank Viviano (true story of an Italian-American who travels to Sicily to search for truth about his family-an eyeopener)

-A House in Sicily by Daphne Phelps

-Anne Rice's Cry to Heaven (Naples and Venice) and Vittorio the Vampire

-Duchess of Milan by Michael Ennis (Milan/Florence)

-Novels around the Vatican and Rome:
The Overseer by Jonathan Rabb
Basilica by William D. Montalbano
Day of Confession by Allan Folsom
Assassini by Thomas Gifford
An awesome book called Saints and Angels or something to that effect (gave the book to a friend) that traced clues of the Illuminati throughout Rome--couldn't put this one down

And my latest purchase (haven't read though) is the Stone Boudoir by Theresa Maggio

 
Aug 7th, 2002, 10:47 PM
  #19  
Melissa
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I can tell you what NOT to read, too! I just finished "A Thousand Days in Venice" on a friend's suggestion. It was not that great until the very end. It was more about the woman's life & thoughts, rather than a novel on Venice that would evoke vivid imagery. bleah
 
Aug 8th, 2002, 04:00 AM
  #20  
Santa Chiara
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Thank you, Lori, for mentioning the Duchess of Milan. I have been trying to remember the title and author for years. I loved this book, but unfortunately it is out of print, and I am sure I sold mine to Half-Price.
 

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