Summer isn’t long enough to read every book about Italy that has been published this year—so far. But, here are some books set in Italy you may want to consider for a beach read or a pre-trip primer.
In addition to the books listed below, why not pick up a popular book from last year? The Bookseller of Florence, Ravenna, and A Fatal Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum are three books from 2021 that I am sure you will love.
Columnist Beppe Severgnini is back with another book of poignant observations about his fellow Italians. This time he tries to put his finger on the pulse of Italian identity in the wake of the global pandemic.
One Italian Summer
Set in Positano, this novel explores the mother-daughter relationship through the elements of travel and time travel. Katy, having just lost her mother Carol, meets the young version of Carol during her Italian summer and learns new facets of her personality.
Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American
Is Italian food American? No. But the world’s vision of Italian food comes mostly from Italian-American dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and New York-style pizza. Author Ian Macallen does an fun deep (dish?) dive into this history of Italian-American cuisine.
The Good Left Undone
From New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani, The Good Left Undone is a generation- and geography-spanning novel about the Cabrelli family of coastal Tuscany. This epic work of historical fiction shifts between Italy, France, and Scotland in prose that dazzles from beginning to end.
What the Ermine Saw: The Extraordinary Journey of Leonardo da Vinci’s Most Mysterious Portrait
You won’t find this portrait among Leonardo da Vinci paintings in Italy. But you will find a fascinating story behind the model of this famous portrait and how the masterpiece survived wars and scandals.
The Wolf Den
An exhilarating read about courage and the daily life of ancient Roman women, the Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in Pompeii. This spellbinding volume follows the life of slave and prostitute Amara, who is assigned to the notorious Wolf Den brothel. By the way, the second book in the series, The House with the Golden Door, will be published in the US in September 2022. Both books are already available in the UK.
Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age
Robert D. Kaplan’s ambitious Adriatic follows the history of the sea on Italy’s east coast. This geographic biography puts into context the geopolitical importance of this watery crossroads between East and West while taking readers on a tour of Italy and its maritime neighbors.
The Child is the Teacher: A Life of Maria Montessori
While her name is synonymous with childhood education, Maria Montessori, the woman, is less known. This biography follows Montessori’s bold life as a groundbreaking educator and businesswoman through diaries, letters, and other previously unpublished material.
Featured photo of Pozzo Vecchio, aka Spiaggia del Postino, on Procida island in the region of Campania. The beautiful film The Postman (Il Postino), which was based on the book by Antonio Skármeta, used this beach as a backdrop. The island of Procida is the 2022 Italian Capital of Culture.