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Essential Reading List - Great Books About or Set in Italy

Essential Reading List - Great Books About or Set in Italy

Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 05:25 PM
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Essential Reading List - Great Books About or Set in Italy

I am so appreciative of the great thread on Italian movies. Now, I would like to hear about your favorite books about Italy--both fiction and nonfiction.

One of the most informative and helpful books I've read is "The Collected Traveler: Central Italy Tuscany and Umbria". It is described as "an inspired anthology and travel resource." A perfect description! This is not a guidebook, although the title might lead you to think it is. ISBN 0-609-80443-X

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King was a fascinating description of the genius, politics, physics, etc., re: the building of the Duomo's dome in Florence. An easy, short but very interesting read.

What are some of your very favorite books? (Other than guide books--there is a good thread on those already.)

I would love to read some can't-put-it-down novels that are set in Italy, about Italy, etc. The thicker the better if the story line is good.

Dog Mother
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 05:33 PM
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Go to slowtrav.com for a good list.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 08:20 PM
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The Agony and the Ecstacy, Irving Stone. Really gets you inside Michaelangelo's mind.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 05:34 AM
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DM,

On a similar thread, Bookchick recommended "Artemisia" by Alexandra Lapierre set in Rome. Haven't read it yet, but it's on my list.

There's a long thread here about books set in Venice. One that I recently read from that list was Marlena De Blasi's "A Thousand Days in Venice"-an autobiographical account of her meeting a Venetian man & moving to Venice to marry him. Besides being entertaining, it gives insight into Venetian attitudes (or at least her perspective of Venetian attitudes). It also mentions lots of specific food related places (she's a chef/food writer) you might want to visit. It's a quick read.

Have a great trip!

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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 05:56 AM
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If you enjoy non-fiction as I do, I'll suggest a recent release: "Francis of Asissi: A Revolutionary Life"

In the pricess of discussing his life and the genesis of the Franciscan Friars, there's a wealth of information about the region surrounding Perugia, Umbria and beyond. Fascinating dissection of the political, economic and class issue that affected life at the time and best of all.... many of the referenced sites can still be seen and visited.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 06:00 AM
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The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, is considered by some people to be the greatest Italian novel of the 20th century. The author was a Sicilian prince, and the hero of the novel (which takes place in the 1860's) was supposedly based on his great-grandfather. The book was turned into a movie with Burt Lancaster.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 06:15 AM
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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. This novel is about a rich Jewish family in Ferrara on the eve of WWII.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 06:45 AM
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My two trips to Mother Italy resulted in two lengthy accounts...the first is posted (in part) at:
http://www.electric-italy.com/123intro.html

I'd be very interested in your response to that, if you decide to take a look. And if you do like what you encounter there, I can forward the remainder of the text - it gets more interesting.

traveljack.net
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 07:04 AM
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The author of Brunelleschi's Dome just wrote another book, Michelangelo and the Pope;s Ceiling about the painting and politics of the Sistine Chapel and Rome during that era. The Miracle of Santo Fico is a sweet novel set in Tuscany. I also enjoyed the mysteries set in Venice by Edward Sklepowich, An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser A Thousand Days in Venice, and Postcards from Europe by Rick Steves. There is a good thread on his website graffiti wall for more book ideas.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 07:14 AM
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Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 07:28 AM
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"The Geometry of Love" by Margaret Visser is an excellent, poetic, lyrical, fact-filled introduction to why churches look the way they do.

Absolutely fascinating,and you will feel so knowledgable every time you look at anything in a church, cathedral, basilica or chapel for evermore!
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 08:26 AM
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I will check into each one of these suggestions. Thank you so much.

Please keep this thread alive. One can never have too many books.

DM
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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Traveljack,

You are an inspiration--I've only just clicked on your site, and can tell you I will read every word. I have thought of putting my experiences with my pictures, but have not gotten to it yet. Please let me know how to access the rest of your journal. Thank you so much for sharing!
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 08:49 AM
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Ever so true, one can never have too many books!

"The Merchant of Prato" gives a very interesting insight into what made one man a successful businessman in Tuscany in the late 14th-early 15th century.

"Vaporetto 13" may be out of print now, but you can probably still obtain a copy through an out-of-print book service. Very intriguing, IMO.

The Lapierre book I read was fascinating, and has already been mentioned in this thread, thanks to mclaurie.

For a series of great & fun short stories set in another century, try "The Decameron". These are all short stories based on different facets of love, and are quite entertaining.

Some may find it not at all their cup of tea, but a large portion of "Hannibal", by Thomas Harris, immortalizing that villian we love to hate (or hate to love?), Dr. Lecter, takes place in Florence.

"Under the Tuscan Sun", of course, is now a well-recognized and widely-read book, among those of us who are Italophiles.

Buon Leggere,
BC
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 09:10 AM
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"The Italians" by Luigi Barzini
"Pasquale's Nose" by ??
"Little World of Don Camillo" by Guareschi

"The Roman Way" by Edith Hamilton
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 09:10 AM
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Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 09:14 AM
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Dog_Mother,

Thank you so much for the kind comment - a labor of love is no labor at all. I still well up when I ponder that trip - and the second trip, too! I had to wonder if I was (and still am) over-reacting to my first international jaunt, as it had such a well-defined purpose. But it was at that certain moment when I went from fascinated observer to passionate participant that I really felt as though I'd been pried open....you'll read that, and hopefully feel a touch of the moment.
If you contact me by direct email, I'd be glad to forward the balance of the story, in text-only version - it's too large with photos inserted. Of course, if a publisher would just come along...

My regular ol' website is:

www.traveljack.net

and has a contact link, along with other links to my other sites. I'm always happy to share. I'm going to Dominican Republic next week, and if I see your request before end of day Monday I'll send it right out. Thanks again,

traveljack
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 09:18 AM
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Italians by Luigi Barzini.

I have a friend who grew up in Milan, but lives in New York now. I described to her some of the characteristics of Italians, according to Barzini, and she thoroughly agreed with him--and she found it so interesting because she had never consciously thought about Italians in the way he described, much less the reasons behind their ways of being/thinking/acting.

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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 10:03 AM
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We have read just about everything Tim Parks has written. He's from the UK, but married an Italian and lives in Italy, outside of Verona. (He teaches at the University in Verona). His nonfiction books are mostly about family life: _Italian Neighbors_ and _Italian Education_. There's also one about following one of the local soccer teams. And he has written some fairly interesting fiction, as well.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 10:53 AM
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"Extra Virgin" is a wonderful book written by a young british girl settling down in Italy. Somebody on this forum recommended this book, maybe this thread is still hiding somewhere?
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