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Good non-travel books to read about Rome, Florence, Venice

Good non-travel books to read about Rome, Florence, Venice

Jan 16th, 2007, 04:49 AM
  #1  
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Good non-travel books to read about Rome, Florence, Venice

I'm going to Italy in March and thought I'd like to read a book or two to get me in the mood (not that you need a book to get in the mood for Italy).

I have travel books... but I'm talking fiction and non-fiction books about the area... that will give the sites more meaning to me... maybe books about the Romans or Venetians... or even a love story set in the area.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
ltilley is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 05:20 AM
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I enjoyed, The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland.
L84SKY is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 05:21 AM
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Read Bruneschelli's Dome ... a great story, well told, that gives the background to building the dome of the Duomo in Florence. It was an incredible engineering feet, and the book will help you appreciate what you're seeing when you see it.

Then ... be sure to walk to the *top* of the dome.
travelhorizons is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 05:25 AM
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hdm
 
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'Under the Tuscan Sun' really got me in the mood for Tuscany and it's a lovely, warm, light-hearted book. If you've seen the movie and didn't like it (like me), don't worry, the book is much better and doesn't get into all that romance stuff.
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Jan 16th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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that's engineering "feat" ... I wish you could edit your typos in this forum!
travelhorizons is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. True background stuff on people and places in Venice.
Margo is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 05:45 AM
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Some of my recent favorites:

Venetian stories / Jane Turner Rylands
Alibi / Joseph Kanon
A season for the dead / David Hewson
The sacred cut / David Hewson
The lost painting / Jonathan Harr

Tons of others already listed on this site. Put "fiction" in the search screen when you search under Italy. Hundreds of posts.

Also check out the Rick Steves website under Graffiti Wall, Recommended Novels.
vinolover is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 06:01 AM
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Hi ltilley,

Here are a couple threads with great lists of novels set in Italy:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34522180

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34410488

p.s. L84SKY, I have TPOA on deck and ready to read, have been looking forward to it, it was a gift from a dear friend.
Tiff is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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jgg
 
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I think the "Agony and the Ecstasy" by Irving stonea biographical novel of Michelangelo is a must read for anyone going to Rome and Florence. It will definitely make seeing all of his work much more meaningful. Also, "I, Claudius".
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Jan 16th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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It will help if, along with "The Agony..." you read even a short bio/history on the Medici family.
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Jan 16th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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If you have any interest in the history of Florence, Paul Strathern's "The Medici" is great. I don't usually get beyond page five of history books, but this one had enough art, anecdotes and personalities to keep me reading to the end.

If you've never read a Donna Leon they're GREAT for Venice. The David Hewson's are great for Rome, I haven't read the Venice ones.

I second the City of Falling Angels reccommendation.

I would read the Annie Hawes books before under the Tuscan sun; although they're set in Liguria rather than Tuscany they get a lot deeper into Italian life.

Also the Tim Parks "Italian neighbours" etc. series are funny and insightful accounts of Brits moving to Italy.

And if you haven't read Angels and Demons...I'm sure you've by now formed your own opinion of Dan Brown, but if you do like reading him it's a fun book for getting into the mood for Rome.

You could also look into:

Iain Pears
Marlena de Blasi (Venice and Tuscany)
Jan Morris (Venice)
Sarah Dunant (The Birth of Venus for Florence)
Lesley Forbes (Waking Raphael for Tuscany)
Magdalen Nabb (Florence)

papagena is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:27 AM
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wonderful suggestions...I just made a huge Amazon purchase... City of Fallen Angels, Bruneschelli's dome (the DH will love that one)... about about 4 other books... thanks all!!
ltilley is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Don't know how I could forget, but I am presently reading "Bel Vino" by Isabella Dusi. It is about life in Montalcino (tuscany). She also wrote "Vanilla Beans & Brodo" (also about Montalcino. These are both non-fiction.

Also liked "A Thousand Nights in Venice" by Marlena di Blasi, also non-fiction.
Margo is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Sixteen Pleasures for Florence, about the mud angels after the flood of 1966 - a little racy!

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster. Not all of it is set in Florence but still one of my faves, the film is great too.
stellamarina is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:36 AM
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Galileo's Daughterby Dava Sobel is interesting and is set in those areas.
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Jan 16th, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Oh yes, Isabella Dusi - be warned, you'll end up trying to convince yourself that three hours travel each way is reasonable for a day trip (from Florence to Montalcino).

And I forgot to mention Sally Vickers for Venice; you can read Miss Garnet's Angel then visit the church and neighbourhood which feature in the story.
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Jan 16th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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I agree with papagena that the Donna Leon books are great. There is a tour available in Venice which takes you to the places and areas mentioned in her books. Not only are they good mysteries but gives you a feeling of what it is like to live in Venice and to be a Venetian.
CharlotteR is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 10:37 AM
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Venice - Gritty Suspense
Take a look at the gritty underbelly of Venice.. I very much enjoy Donna Leon's novels (16 so far) centering on the somewhat suave Police Inspector, Guido Brunetti. Chilling crime, depavity, revenge & murder. These novels (I've read 7 so far) always give a humorous view of the "pecking order" within the politics the police force, region and country; as well as the way the Venetians view themselves, their news sources, weather, rising tides, and families. Pull out your map and follow Guido as he walks through the labyrinth of narrow streets and over the many bridges, most often putting himself in grave danger as his investigations unfold.
Lois Schmitt
Fullerton, CA USA
bitsy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 10:40 AM
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Author: bitsy
Venice - Gritty Suspense
Take a look at the gritty underbelly of Venice.. I very much enjoy Donna Leon's novels (16 so far) centering on the somewhat suave Police Inspector, Guido Brunetti. Chilling crime, depavity, revenge & murder. These novels (I've read 7 so far) always give a humorous view of the "pecking order" within the politics the police force, region and country; as well as the way the Venetians view themselves, their news sources, weather, rising tides, and families. Pull out your map and follow Guido as he walks through the labyrinth of narrow streets and over the many bridges, most often putting himself in grave danger as his investigations unfold.
Lois Schmitt
Fullerton, CA USA

bitsy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 11:47 AM
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You might like to check out a classic on travel in Italy by the British author H.V. Morton. His book on northern Italy is A Traveller in Italy. He's very much into history, providing wonderful details on such cities as Milan, Venice, Verano, Bergamo, Florence. He also has a book on traveling in southern Italy that discusses Rome, I would assume--haven't read that one.
Clima is offline  

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