Coffee Table Books on Italy: Gift Guide for 2020

What to get the Italy lover who has everything? A coffee table book about Italy! Browse this list for ideas for the gift-giving season.
coffee table books on italy
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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. You can also find many of these titles on my Italofile Bookshop page.

Need even more book ideas? See Italy By the Book: Best Books to Give and Get in 2020.

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

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

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

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.

Slim Aarons: La Dolce Vita

Slim Aarons was one of the premier photojournalists of his day and this gorgeous book is a nostalgic, starry-eyed look at Italy’s jet set and their mansions, gardens, and villas. Included in his works from the 1940s to the 1990s are photographs of “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places” from almost every lavish corner of Italy.

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

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.

The Atlas of Ancient Rome

This hefty, two-volume set, which I wrote about when it came out in 2017, transports readers to Ancient Rome through its many phases using maps, 3-D reconstructions, architectural drawings, and details of descriptions of more than 500 monuments.

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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  • Arabella Davies
    11 December 2019 at 12:10 am

    Ohh these are dreamy, I would love to go to Italy one day, but in the mean time a coffee table book will have to do!

  • LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia
    14 December 2019 at 9:28 pm

    These all look like great books and conversation starters! I’d have trouble picking just one! 🙂

    • Melanie Renzulli
      15 December 2019 at 8:02 am

      To be honest, I could have made this a MUCH longer post 😀