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

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

Jul 1st, 2007, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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If you're interested in fictionalized lives of early emperors, try Augustus by John Edward Williams, Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, and I Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves.
sjj is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 01:59 PM
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I just read No Vulgar Hotel, by Judith Martin (aka "Miss Manners"). Martin and her family travel to Venice, where they rent an apartment, several times a year, and the book is a self-avowed "Venetophile's" take on all things Venetian. Whether you like the book or not depends on how you feel about Martin's sense of humor -- I found it hilarious, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear that others found it annoying. Pick up a copy in a bookstore, read a few pages, and make up your own mind.

The title of No Vulgar Hotel is from Henry James's The Wings of the Dove (also set in Venice), and reading the Martin book made me want to read The Wings of the Dove next.
Bree is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 02:05 PM
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Just back from Venice and reading Donna Leon's Aqua Alta.

On a train from Venice to Perugia ran into an Australian couple--the wife was reading a Donna Leon book and the husband was complaining about her writing.
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Jul 20th, 2007, 06:17 PM
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Jul 21st, 2007, 08:50 AM
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I love all of Marlena de Blasi's books as they are autobiographical and her writing style is exquisite. Read them in sequence: (1) 1,000 days in Venice (2) Thousand days in Tuscany (3) Lady in the Palazza
My most recent trip while we were in Florence I read "I, Mona Lisa" by Kalogrides and it enhanced my experience. On an earlier trip to Florence I read "Agony and Ectasy" and that is a must...it's actually a good one to read before you go. Another good one is "Summer's Lease" by Morimer. I've recently purchased "The Private Life of Mona Lisa" by La Mure but haven't read it. "Brunelleschi's Dome" is very good. There are also several books that focus on the Medici family and they give you lots of background and better understand Florence and its treasures when you understand the role the Medici's played.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 08:48 AM
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After researching this topic for books to buy for myself, followed by a hefty amazon order, I am 3/4 through with Bruneschelli's Dome. I'm not one for non-fiction, but this book is fascinating. I thought being an engineer, it just might be me. But my non-engineer husband is now reading it and loves it as well. I highly recommend this book. It has really stimulated my interest in the architecture and art of Florence.
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Jul 25th, 2007, 09:53 AM
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I'll second "I, Mona Lisa" by Kalogrides if you like historical fiction. I am reading it now and completely unable to put it down. I wish I had this for a plane ride instead of a beach read!

My other favorites are Agony and Ecstasy (one of my all time favorite books ever!) as well as Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling and Brunelleschi's Dome (not fiction, but compelling reads nonetheless). I am also about halfway through "Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's" by Scotti. This isn't as well-written as the former two books, but it is fact-filled and worth reading before you go to Rome.
amyb is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 06:56 PM
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Bookmarking for April 2008
ready2travel is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 03:20 AM
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In Company of a Courtesan
Miss Garnet's Angel
1000 days in Venice
City of Falling Angels


Birth of Venus


Angels and Demons

granbury is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 05:33 AM
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Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:01 AM
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Adding to this because I am tearing through Steven Saylor's "Roma" which is historical fiction through about 2000 years of early Rome. I never thought I'd get through nearly 600 pages before my trip next month, but it's been captivating reading, can't put it down!!! Plus, the added bonus is that I'm learning about ancient Rome quickly and painlessly!
amyb is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:07 AM
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Also, apparently Robert Hellenga just released the followup to The Sixteen Pleasures. I have not read it yet, but it's on my To Be Read list!
amyb is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:15 AM
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I didn't see it listed, but Botticelli blue skies: an American in Florence, by Merril Joan Gerber is an interesting look at Florence from the perspective os someone who is not a tourist. Plus the writing is fantastic.

mel_hunt is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:16 AM
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I agree with Granbury - "Angels and Demons" is a good book to read if you will be in Rome. We went two years ago to visit our daughter, who was working and attending school there, and we had the best time reading that book and visiting all the key sites as we followed the story.

Also - I just picked up "Bridge of Sighs" by Richard Russo (he wrote "Empire Falls" and "Nobody's Fool") - only started it last night, but it is partially set in present day Venice. We will be leaving for Europe, including Venice, in about ten days ... so it seemed an apt choice for me.
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