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 table 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? Browse the books category.
Now, here are the books!
The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces
The pieces in this landmark, privately-owned collection were last published in a 19th-century catalog and had not been seen by the public since the 1940s. This volume, a companion guide to the Torlonia Marbles exhibition in Rome, contains images of and essays about these classical sculptures.
2020 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.
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.
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.
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.
Luxury coffee table book publisher Assouline follows up their gorgeous Amalfi Coast and Capri books (see below) with this beautiful volume focused on Tuscany. Curated and written by Italian tastemaker Cesare Cunaccia (who also wrote Assouline’s Capri book), Tuscany Marvel transports you to Medici villas, cypress-dotted landscapes, generations-old vineyards, artisan workshops, and rustic kitchens. A fantastic book for anyone who dreams of a Tuscan escape.
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!
Just like its namesake periodical, The Monocle Book of Italy is chock full of dazzling photographs and informational sidebars on everything from history to design, food to fashion. A great addition to the coffee table stack for the most discerning Italophiles.
Cipullo: Making Jewelry Modern
Aldo Cipullo was one of Italy’s most sought-after jewelry designers before he moved to New York City in 1960. There he worked for Tiffany & Co., then Cartier, before striking out on his own. His legacy includes the Love bracelet and the Nail collection, both for Cartier, and so many more designs that look modern more than half a century later.
Culinary and Wine Books
Take a visual journey through the vineyards of Sicily. Get close to the volcanic soil and follow your guide into island coves and rustic farmhouses as you learn more about the wines and wineries on the largest island in the Mediterranean. (For more about Sicilian wines, pick up this book: New Wines of Mt. Etna.)
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.
A Few of My Favorites
I own and love the following coffee table books. These volumes—like all good coffee table books worth their own weight—are timeless.
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 its 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.
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!
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.
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.
Featured photo by mrjane
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!
These all look like great books and conversation starters! I’d have trouble picking just one! 🙂
To be honest, I could have made this a MUCH longer post 😀