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Coffee Table Books About Italy: Gift Guide for 2020

Photogenic, artistically-rich Italy is always a popular subject for a coffee table book.

If you’re out of ideas on what to get for the Italy lover in your life — or if you just want to buy something beautiful for yourself — consider the following coffee tables books about Italy.

Browse these and other titles on my extensive list of coffee table books on Amazon.

Coffee Table Books Published in 2020

Given all of the upheaval of 2020 — and with travel plans still stalled for many Italophiles — there has never been a better time to lose yourself in the pages of a book about Italy.

Here is a small selection of beautiful coffee table books that have been published in 2020.

Raffaello: 1520-1483

Twenty-twenty was supposed to be the year of Raphael. It marked 500 years since the artist’s death and was to be commemorated with several exhibitions around the world. Then COVID-19 struck. But after quarantine, the Scuderia del Quirinale in Rome was able to hold its blockbuster exhibit. This book, in Italian, is the companion guide for the event that so many missed.

Amalfi Coast by Assouline

It’s not a stand-in for being on the Amalfi Coast. But this book will transport you to the colorful, sun-soaked seaside near Naples. Publisher Assouline has put out several of these books focused on beach destinations around the world, including last year’s equally stunning coffee table book on Capri. Get the set!

Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection

Explore radical Italian design with this book of 70 objects and architectural models from the collection of Dennis Freedman. Creative Director Freedman, who did stints at W Magazine and Barney’s, donated or loaned these objects to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for an exhibit of the same name. Learn even more about Dennis Freedman’s radical collection of art.

Venice with Turner

A collection of Venice watercolors by English Romantic painter William Turner. Tate Britain curator Ian Warrell guides readers around Venice using Turner’s works to discuss Venetian landmarks and the painter’s creative inspirations.

Coffee Table Books Published in 2019

Many volumes devoted to Italy and Italian art and architecture were published in 2019. Here are a few that I would love to get or give.

Gray Malin: Italy

Gray Malin: Italy

This one-size-fits-all book will satisfy anyone who loves Italy and color-drenched photography. Gray Malin’s popular book captures unique scenes from Italy’s coastal areas, including Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.

Entryways of Milan – Ingressi di Milano

Entryways of Milan / Ingressi di Milano

A book for the interior design lover, Entryways of Milan is a fun look at 144 eclectic and elegant ingressi one will find in fashionable Milan. It’s like having a hard copy of a Pinterest board.

Leonardo by Leonardo

Leonardo by Leonardo by Martin Kemp

The world celebrated 500 years of Leonardo da Vinci in 2019, so a number of books on the Renaissance man were released this year. This one focuses on 27 of Leonardo’s paintings and contains analysis and reflections by Martin Kemp, one of the world’s leading Leonardo scholars.

A Few of My Favorites

I own and love the following coffee table books. Though they weren’t released this year, these volumes are timeless.

Rome: Portrait of a City

Rome: Portrait of a City

This 486-page doorstopper of a book is a gorgeous centerpiece for any coffee table. It contains photos from every neighborhood in the Eternal City, ranging from the 1840s to today. I bought this book for myself because I couldn’t stand to wait for anyone else to give it to me!

Elliott Erwitt’s Rome

Elliott Erwitt's Rome

What’s better than one coffee table book about Rome? Two (or more). This book contains black-and-white photos of Rome from legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt.

City Parks: Public Spaces, Private Thoughts

City Parks: Public Spaces, Private Thoughts

Most coffee table books are made to be browsed, not read. This one on the world’s city parks contains essays by well-known authors as well as beautiful photography. Three Italian parks are featured in this book — Jan Morris writes about Trieste’s Giardino Pubblico while Zadie Smith covers the Boboli Gardens in Florence and Rome’s Villa Borghese.

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About Author

Melanie Renzulli has been writing about travel to Italy for more than 20 years.

Before you go, a parting thought...

“Italy and the spring and the first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” — Bertrand Russell