Books About Italy: New and Upcoming Books for 2021

Need something new to read? Here’s an ever-growing list of Italy-related cookbooks, coffee table books, and nonfiction published in 2021.

Biblioteca Palatina, Parma

In the past, I have done a round-up of Italy-related books to coincide with the end-of-year book-buying season. Of course, the book-buying season is year-round — especially during these days when we can only travel around Italy from our armchairs.

So this year, I am going to start my list earlier.

Below is a selection of books that I think fellow Italophiles will love. All of these books are for the current year, many available through pre-order if they are not already published.

For more book ideas, see my book recommendations for 2020, my list of coffee table books, and the book and literary travel category. As I cannot write about every cool book that I find, I have created some handy lists here and here.

Also, stay tuned, as I will be updating this page periodically with new releases.


A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome

A fun, dark, and informative read, this book by Emma Southon will appeal to True Crime aficionados and ancient history buffs. The author details all the weird and gruesome ways that the Romans carried out capital punishment, from leopard maulings in the Colosseum to stabbings in the Forum to man-eating eels.

The Bookseller of Florence

My interest in Italy blossomed about the same time that Ross King began writing books about its artistic history. I devoured Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. So I am eager to read his latest deep dive into the world of illuminated manuscripts.

Princes of the Renaissance

If you, like me, are fresh off a binge of the Netflix series on The Medici, this may be an ideal book for you. “Princes of the Renaissance” looks at the “hidden power behind an artistic revolution” that ranged from Florence to Urbino to other seats of power. Written by Mary Hollingsworth, who also wrote a well-regarded, “warts-and-all” biography of The Family Medici, this book will help you understand the connections between the powerful clans of 15th-century Italy and how they shaped the history of art.

Bartali’s Bicycle

As time marches on and veterans pass away, the stories of World War II start to fade from memory. This beautifully illustrated book, appropriate for elementary school children, hopes to inspire and educate a new generation of readers as it tells the story of Italian cyclist and Italian Resistance hero Gino Bartali.

Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football

I love Italian football. But I also know that it is rotten, no thanks to the ultras, those die-hard fans whose racism and criminality mar the sport. Written by Parma-based English football writer Tobias Jones, “Ultra” is the paperback release of the 2020 winner of the Telegraph’s Sports Book Awards.

Cookbooks, Food & Wine

Taste: My Life Through Food

Fresh on the heels of his wildly popular travel show Searching for Italy, Stanley Tucci will publish a food memoir that discusses his childhood influences, his work with food on film, and other culinary adventures.

Liguria: The Cookbook

This book goes beyond pesto and focaccia to present the full menu of Liguria. This is a beautifully photographed cookbook full of recipes from Genoa, the Cinque Terre, and beyond.

The Italian Deli Cookbook

I have been excited about this book ever since I spotted its retro cover. Written by Theo Randall, one of Britain’s best chefs of Italian cuisine, the Italian Deli Cookbook is a collection of about 100 family recipes from the Italian diaspora from Sydney to Brooklyn. Its genius is that it uses common deli ingredients — cured meats, jarred vegetables, smoked fish, vinegars, olives, and cheese — to create meals that are simple but elevated.

The New Cucina Italiana

From Laura Lazzaroni, the Editor-in-Chief of the Italian version of Food & Wine, comes this beautiful cookbook that highlights the Italian cuisine of today. The book “covers 32 chefs and restaurateurs who are reinterpreting the ‘greatest hits’ of Italian dining,” ranging from pop-ups to pizzerie to the finest restaurants.

Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence

This is an updated version of Emiko Davies’ popular first cookbook on the food of Florence. The 2021 book features new recipes, photos, and itineraries for the neighborhoods of Florence and nearby towns.

Featured photo of Biblioteca Palatina in Parma, which is the Italian Capital of Culture for 2021. Photo © Beata Schwendimann

Last Updated: May 9, 2021

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