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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 Jan 24th, 2010, 10:34 PM
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>>some modern Italian authors whose works are available in translation?<<

Gianrico Carofiglio, in real life an anti-Mafia judge in Bari, writes mysteries set in that city that feature a somewhat anti-heroic lawyer.

Massimo Carlotto, in real life a victim of massive miscarriages of justice, also writes mysteries, some of them featuring a hard-boiled unlicensed detective nicknamed The Alligator.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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I just joined this website and discovered, to my amazement and gratitude, this list of 2 of my favorite things -- Italy and reading. Here are a few titles I can offer.

Two old books set in the World War II era (fiction):
"The Secret of Santa Vittoria" by Robert Creighton
"Miracle of St. Anna" by James McBride

Another old one (non-fiction):
"Women of the Shadows: A Study of Wives and Mothers of Southern Italy" by Ann Cornelisen

A more recent book:
"Monster of Florence: A True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi -- the true crime story of modern times and how the authors become entangled in the investigation and subsequent cover-up by the politics of the police authories.

Enjoy, and keep it going!
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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topping a year later, with thoughts that more new books have been published
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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Juliet by Anne Fortier--a new Romeo & Juliet version set in Sienna. After reading it, I am so wanting to go to Sienna. Funny thing, though, the author's mother did most of the "on the ground" research.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 06:06 AM
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A fabulous read for anyone interested in Rome:
The Families Who Made Rome: A History and a Guide, by Anthony Majanlahti.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 06:51 AM
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I've bought and read way too much dire fiction set in Italy over the last year - but it's been made up for entirely by this, a joy to refer to...


And in June, a new edition of another favourite is due...


Best of all though, the BBC's dramatisation of three of Dibdin's Aurelio Zen novels has had me rereading those, which has cost nothing... beyond the DVD itself, and a new player - after we found that the old one had turned up its toes!

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Old May 3rd, 2011, 09:47 AM
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best thread ever!!!!
check out the book Head Over Heel by Chris Harrison .. loved it! Aussie man falls in love with a woman from Puglia, true story, very funny.. great read..

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Old Jun 4th, 2011, 05:39 AM
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Great thread!

I second Hawthorne's Marble faun. also the Italy sections of Twain's Innocents Abroad.

On ancient Rome, and beyond, David Wishart's series is similar to Lindsay davis' and Steven Saylor's (can' recall if some one mentioned Saylor's newer Roma series in addition to Roma sub rosa). Also very good IMO are Robert harris' Pompeii and Imperium, which has a sequel now, Conspirata.

For a modern Italian author try Italo Calvino, I particularly like his short stories and If on a winter's night a traveler ....

I recently stumbled across HV Morton's A Traveller in Rome and it is great!!

For kids, but nice reads for big kids too, try Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series. The first is called The Theives of Ostia.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:32 PM
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Old Apr 2nd, 2012, 02:00 PM
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Fun book especially if you are North American travelling to Rome with kids:

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Old Aug 15th, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Fakakt: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Sex, a smart, funny mystery set in Rome
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 01:39 PM
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I was just in Rome and I found a book of poems at Almost Corner Bookshop by David Starkey called Circus Maximus. It's short but very evocative of specific places in Rome.
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Old Apr 24th, 2013, 06:57 PM
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Beautiful Ruins. Set in 1920's in Cinque Terre
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 06:21 AM
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I'm reading The Prince of Naples: How one boy brought down the Mafia.

It's brilliant and set almost entirely in Naples. It's a true story about a child prodigy living under the control of the Camorra. They drove him to an almost obsessive quest for revenge. This all came to a head when the earthquake struck in 1980 and his family and neighbours were all moved to live in aluminium housing in an unsanitary and crowded shanty town.

More than 40 billion euros in aid money flooded into Naples after the quake, but the Camorra 'owned' construction business and the money was syphoned off to line their own pockets. The Naples people seemed doomed to live indefinitely in rat infested shanty towns while, just a few miles away, the Camorra and their accomplices lived in luxury villas.

'The Prince's' need for revenge grew along with his rage and he swore to do something about it. Even though he was just 12 years old when he started this journey, by the time he was 16, he had managed to find enough dirt on the people responsible (the Camorra) that he blackmailed them into giving back the money and forced them to rebuild the city.

He ended up getting deeper in with the Camorra than he would have liked and he now lives outside Italy under an assumed identity.

It's well worth a read. By Hugh Gurney.
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Old Sep 29th, 2013, 07:47 AM
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I tried to give a picture of the Italian history since Unity in a list of 14 novels, all by Italian writers (really one of these is a receipes collection and another a theatre piece): http://mviola.hubpages.com/hub/The-H...ly-in-14-Books

If I have to add a couple of books I would choose Giorgio Vasari (The Lives of the Artists) which is a kind of "bible" of our art history from Middle Age to the Renaissance, and The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James, which shows Florence and Rome in the eyes of an American.
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Old Sep 30th, 2013, 04:06 AM
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after a brief scan on these postings, i didn't see CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI by carlo levi. it must be on the list, i probably missed it. A MUST READ if you plan to visit the south of italy!
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Old Oct 12th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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On previous postings on this long-lasting thread I have been asking for Italian authors whose works are in English translation. However I must recommend one of the most hilarious books I have ever read, by the English author James Hamilton-Paterson, "Cooking with Fernet-Branca" a wickedly funny antidote to Frances Mayes and the like. The book does include recipes, all of them involving that disgusting Italian bitters, but no one in their right mind would ever think of making them. There are two further novels in the series, equally funny, "Amazing Disgrace" and "Rancid Pansies".
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Old May 24th, 2014, 01:32 PM
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Just stumbled across this thread and wanted to add my own --
Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King for a trip to Florence (it's short)
Roma Amor: Enjoying Art and Architecture in the Eternal City by Judith Testa
Venice, Lion City: The Religion of Empire by Garry Wills
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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I love and have re-read several times A Courtyard of Dreams by Anna Monardo. It may be hard to find in print, but it is worth the search. Her writing is lovely.
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