26 Wonderful Books About Italy To Take You There

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Travel across Europe with the best books about Italy, including books about Italian history, culture, travel, and language.

Spark that Italian wanderlust to Sicily, Tuscany, Naples, Florence, and Rome with the best novels about Italy, Italian and ex-pat memoirs, books set in Italy, and nonfiction Italy culture books.

It’s also no secret that Italy runs in our blood. Both of our families are from Sicily and parts of southern and eastern Italy. Whenever we land in this gorgeous country, we feel as though we are home.

If you have ever read Frances Mayes’ Italy travel books, especially about Tuscany, she evokes all of the feels and chills that reverberate in our bones.

We covet visits to Marsala, Menfi, Noto, the Amalfi Coast, Chianti, Venice, Palermo, and San Gimignano. Bike riding along the fortress walls of Lucca is one of our all-time favorite memories.

So, whether you are traveling to Italy or are hoping to spark your wanderlust, what are the best books about Italy to read right now?

Below, find fiction and nonfiction Italy books for adults and teens across famous cities and regions. Explore translated literature and a few classics too.

We update our book lists frequently, so please don’t hesitate to comment with your favorites too. Let’s get started!

If you love these Italy books, don’t miss the best Italian films to take you there.

Books About Italy with picture of Amalfi Coast with blue water and pink flowers
Uncover the best books about Italy sure to take you there and teach you more. Find a few books set in Italy too!

Grab your top Italy books here:

  • Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
  • Book of the Month: Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Stream thousands of ad-free movies and TV series on demand with Prime Video.

Best Nonfiction Books About Italy

By Jeremy Paterson with additions from Christine

Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano book cover with person standing in middle of tunnel like structurePin

Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano

Translated into English by Virginia Jewiss

The Camorra is one of the oldest and most far-reaching criminal organizations in Italy.

Through their powers of intimidation and their frequent use of extreme violence, they manage to spread their influence into the worlds of drugs, high fashion, construction, and toxic waste disposal.

Their negative impact can be felt all along the Neapolitan coast, especially in the city of Naples, the hometown of author Roberto Saviano.

With this internationally celebrated literary achievement and one of the best books on Italian history according to many, Saviano recounts the decline of Naples under the “control” of the Camorra.

Saviano witnesses his first murder victim as a teenager, and the Camorra severely beats his father for attempting to assist a man they had left in the street to die.

More than just a memoir and one of the many books about Italian history, Gomorrah utilizes a mixture of prose and news-reporting style.

His work is hailed as part of the literary wave of the “New Italian Epic.”

Read Gomorrah: Amazon | Goodreads

Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks book cover with four sections featuring Italian landscape and the inside of a train stationPin

Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks

Author Tim Parks’ Italian travelog did not begin intentionally. As with some of the best Italy travel books, it started off as notes taken while writing another book.

But from these observations, Parks finds that he has begun a commentary on something both important and essential to Italian culture: the trains.

Through his interactions with people – while taking trains from Verona to Milan and Rome to Palermo – Parks deepens his understanding of just how the country works, even with some glaring contradictions.

Some train routes are announced with an impressive list of destinations, though they will more often than not be canceled.

An automated system will advise everyone to spread out in order to make boarding easier, though there will be just one passenger on the platform.

As Italy is a commuting culture, Parks argues that it is easy to see the Italian train system as symbolic of the country itself; and he asks, is Italy part of the modern world, or not?

This is one of the more darkly amusing books about Italy on this list.

If trains fascinate you, check out our books set on trains reading list too.

Read Italian Ways: Amazon | Goodreads

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri book cover with image of woman with shoulder length brown hair in chair with book in front of her and she's leaning on one elbowPin

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

Translated into English by Ann Goldstein

If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to dive right into another culture and learn a new language through total immersion, reading In Other Words will give you some insight.

Because this is exactly what Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri does, moving with her family in 2012 to Rome in order to better connect with a language she has been in love with since just after college.

Lahiri decides to devote herself to Italian; she stops reading books in her native English, stops writing in English, and eventually gives up speaking in English.

She lays bare her struggles mastering the language in this autobiographical work, especially as her inner artist attempts to literally find a new voice.

Some would say Lahiri succeeds – she writes the book in Italian, after all.

In Other Words is one of the more relatable Italian culture books. Lahiri’s alienation and the obstacles she faces represent many of the trials that emigrants experience.

Read In Other Words: Amazon | Goodreads

La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini book cover with person feeding pasta to a Roman statuePin

La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini

Translated into English by Giles Watson

Everyone has an idea of what Italy and Italians are like: often suave, romantic, either dashing or beautiful, and full of passion with a quick retort for anyone looking for an argument.

This image often comes as part of the package of what non-Italians think Italy is like.

Author Beppe Severgnini’s humorous examination of the Italian psyche is one of the best books about Italy with which to take a journey into finding out how much of it is true.

The answer, from Severgnini’s point of view, appears to be that sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. However, no matter which way you swing, it will be intense.

From interpretations of what a red light at a junction really means (not “stop,” surely), to how much beauty can distract you from a bad deal, to where you can find the best coffee and pizza, you’ll be swept up in the vibrancy of the locations.

Read La Bella Figura: Amazon | Goodreads

More Nonfiction Italy Books From Christine

Midnight In Sicily by Peter Robb book cover with orange sky and man walking down a narrow street in the shadowsPin

Midnight In Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra by Peter Robb

Having lived in southern Italy for over 14 years, Peter Robb contrasts the island’s stunning beauty against its corrupt politics.

Specifically, Robb address Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, and their relation with the government and religious institutions.

Always in the backdrop – and sometimes the forefront – this violent network permeates every aspect of Sicilian life.

If you think the Mafia is just another “business” or have watched The Sopranos and The Godfather, Robb’s account will discuss the true nature of the Mafia’s crimes, eliminating that Hollywood glamour.

For books about Italian history and politics, specifically of Sicily post-war, Midnight In Sicily is a solid start.

Read Midnight In Sicily: Amazon | Goodreads

Trieste And The Meaning Of Nowhere by Jan Morris book cover with Italian city of Trieste along port in yellow and blackPin

Trieste And The Meaning Of Nowhere by Jan Morris

Find a gorgeous meditation and homage to the Italian city of Trieste in Jan Morris’s Trieste And The Meaning Of Nowhere.

The tiny port and the seaside city remain unknown to many. However, to travel writer and Welsh historian Jan Morris, it’s one of her favorite places – and she had traveled all over the world.

Encounter a lyrical and captivating travelogue about Trieste. Learn about its role in history – especially during the Cold War – and then over time, its dwindling glory.

For short and solemn but deeply touching and atmospheric books about Italy, Trieste And The Meaning Of Nowhere won’t disappoint.

Read Trieste And The Meaning Of Nowhere: Amazon | Goodreads

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert book cover with writing spelled out in pasta, prayer beads and flowersPin

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love is one of the most cliché recommendations for books set in Italy, and people either love it or loathe it.

After going through a divorce, Gilbert needs to escape and start over. She decides to jet set off to Italy, India, and Indonesia to literally eat, pray, and love.

Only one-third of the book takes place in Italy when Gilbert heads out to taste test her way through Rome and Naples.

Throughout her travels, Gilbert learns how to be still, meditate, find and love herself, and love romantically – once again.

A thought-provoking travel memoir, a small portion of Gilbert lives within many of us. For Italy books, Eat, Pray, Love is more about finding yourself amongst a beautiful landscape and new culture.

After heading to Rome with Gilbert, explore these Indonesian books and books set in India to travel there next.

Read Eat, Pray, Love: Amazon | Goodreads | More Information

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances MayesPin

Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

One of our other favorite nonfiction ex-pat books about Italy, Frances Mayes’ Under The Tuscan Sun will remind you a lot of Gilbert taking an extended Italian holiday.

A beautiful memoir and Italian travel guide, Mayes paints a vivid picture of Tuscan life as an ex-pat and part-time Italian resident.

On a whim, Mayes decides to restore an old villa, Bramasole, in the Tuscan countryside of Cortona.

She evokes the true ambiance of Italy through her poetic writing about food, friends, and community.

Perfect for armchair travelers, watch as Mayes also moves on from divorce and throws her talents into writing, renovation, and love.

Mayes writes some of the best Italy travel books from an American perspective. The movie is fantastic too.

If you wish to read more about eating and drinking across Italy, don’t miss these wine novels and memoirs.

Read Under The Tuscan Sun: Amazon | Goodreads

More Books About Italian Culture & Food From Frances Mayes

Books About Italy, Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes book cover with white brunette woman in waterPin
Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes – Three American women and a writer become friends as they form a new life in Tuscany, Italy.
See You In The Piazza: New Places To Discover In Italy by Frances Mayes book cover with Italian homes and blue skyPin
See You In The Piazza: New Places To Discover In Italy by Frances Mayes – An Italy travel book, Mayes shows readers a more local side to Italy.
The Tuscan Cookbook by Frances Mayes book cover with six people sitting around a table with foodPin
The Tuscan Cookbook by Frances Mayes – Discover over 150 recipes honoring Tuscan cuisine in this Italian cookbook.
Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life In Italy by Frances Mayes book cover with blue sky with green grass and Tuscan home in backgroundPin
Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life In Italy by Frances Mayes – A companion and Italy travel book to Under The Tuscan Sun, Mayes extends her Italian life via holidays, visiting Veneto and Sicily.
Every Day In Tuscany by Frances Mayes book cover with Italian town with stucco orange houses, road and mountatinsPin
Every Day In Tuscany by Frances Mayes – For books about Italy, enjoy recipes along with tales of everyday Tuscan life.

Best Novels About Italy

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman book cover with two people leaning their heads and necks into each otherPin

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Reminiscing about his times as a teenager in the early 1980s, narrator Elio recalls one particular summer when American doctoral student Oliver comes to stay with him and his parents in their house in Italy.

At first unsure of how to interact with Oliver, Elio finds him standoffish. However, the two gradually realize that a romance is blossoming between them.

Over the weeks, they spend more time in each other’s company, gradually becoming more vulnerable with each other.

As Elio is on the cusp of a new period of his life, this experience will change him and his perceptions of love and intimacy forever.

Call Me By Your Name is one of the most well-known queer novels about Italy.

Anyone who has felt the adrenaline and thrill of a new and previously unseen or unconsidered romantic attachment will have much to relate to and enjoy here.

Read Call Me By Your Name: Amazon | Goodreads

Clash of Civilisations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous book cover with illustrated people doing everyday things with sketch of dead body outline on purple backgroundPin

Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous

Translated into English by Ann Goldstein

In one residential building in Rome, the status quo is about to be destroyed; someone has been murdered.

The body turns out to be one of the tenants – an unpopular character known as The Gladiator – found dead in the building’s elevator.

Naturally, the police need to interview the other inhabitants of the building, and so we are introduced to the eclectic and colorful community of immigrants who live there.

Each one takes their turn answering police questions, some with extremely vibrant language.

The author presents the reader with a kaleidoscopic snapshot of the diversity of the average Italian mini-community.

As has been consistent throughout the history of Italy, books like this comedic satire highlight just how diverse this melting pot country can be (just as the pleasingly elaborate title suggests).

If you’re looking for books about Italy where the characters feel developed and nuanced, this is the novel for you.

Explore more contemporary and Ancient Rome books.

Read Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio: Amazon | Goodreads

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri book cover with portrait of older man and white buildings with orange roofs and blue water in backgroundPin

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

Translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli

For anyone who likes to be introduced to a culture through its crime novels, Andrea Camilleri writes some of the best crime books about Italy.

The Shape of Water is the first in his Inspector Montalbano series, which is set predominantly in Sicily.

Inspector Salvo Montalbano is a streetwise detective with no time for liars or criminals but who will do whatever it takes to right a wrong.

In his first book, he shows up on the scene after an engineer’s death is ruled to be from natural causes. But Montalbano isn’t so sure that’s the case.

As he investigates the man’s death, we are drawn into the corruption and underbelly of Sicily and Italian politics.

The Inspector Montalbano series will not only transport you to Italy, but they are also some of the best fiction books about Italian culture and politics – especially Sicily.

Read The Shape of Water: Amazon | Goodreads

More novels about Italy from Christine

Trieste by Daša Drndić book cover with blurred person's facePin

Trieste by Daša Drndić

Translated into English by Ellen Elias-Bursać

In Northeastern Italy, Haya Tedeschi hasn’t seen her son in over 62 years. As she awaits their reunion, Haya reflects on her Catholicized Jewish family’s experiences.

An SS officer is the father of her son, and the German authorities took him as part of Himmler’s Lebensborn project.

Throughout the novel, readers learn more about the concentration camps of Trieste and the massacre of Italian Jews.

For historical fiction novels about Italy during WW2, Trieste is a moving and well-researched account of the atrocities of war.

Through every photograph, document, and piece of testimony Haya retrieves, readers gain powerful insight into the Nazi occupation of northern Italy.

Daša Drndić was a Croatian and award-winning writer. Uncover even more WWII historical fiction.

Find Belladonna by Daša Drndić on our Croatian reading list.

Read Trieste: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Set In Naples, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante book cover with man and woman walking together in wedding attirePin

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Translated into English by Ann Goldstein

One of the most popular books set in Italy, My Brilliant Friend is also an HBO TV show, and Italian author Elena Ferrante’s first book in the Neapolitan Novels series.

Armchair travelers head to Naples in the 1950s where Lila’s and Elena’s friendship and lives evolve in a story that spans over 60 years.

We meet the two women in elementary school, at 10 years old, and watch them transform into wives, mothers, figureheads, and friends.

In a slow-burn yet captivating story, readers learn more about working-class Naples and one feisty and complicated friendship.

For books about Italian culture and life, Ferrante is famous her relentless and hypnotic stories.

Explore even more fascinating books about best friends and friendship.

Read My Brilliant Friend: Amazon | Goodreads

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri tan and gold book coverPin

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

For transcendent and intuitive translated Italian literature, Whereabouts by one of our favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri, is a must.

Thought-provoking and meditative, book clubs and deep thinkers will appreciate this one. Plus, you can read Whereabouts in a few hours.

The novel takes place in an unnamed, small town that is most likely set somewhere in Italy.

Through the everyday vignettes and “whereabouts” of an average yet depressed and sullen woman, Lahiri shares our universal insecurities, feelings of isolation, and faults that make us deeply human.

How can such a seemingly ordinary book be so extraordinary?

If you love Italy books with gripping plots, though, you might want to pass here.

Personally, we will live more fully, love more deeply, and pay closer attention to the happiness and sorrow around us having read Whereabouts.

Read Whereabouts: Amazon | Goodreads | Read More

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman book cover with vineyard with red flowers and path to home with people on itPin

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

One of the best books set in Italy that is also perfect for book club, travel to Ravello, Venice, and Trespiano in The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany.

Italy oozes off of the pages, and you’ll wish you had a sage and eccentric Aunt Poppy in your life. We couldn’t possibly love this inspiring and beautiful novel more.

Beginning in Brooklyn, New York, Emilia lives a safe life working in the family bakery with her cat Jaws.

Yet something is off, and it’s not just the family curse that says second-born daughters are destined to never have lasting love.

Her grandmother – who has raised her – treats Emilia with disdain, and her sister uses her as a doormat.

When their estranged Aunt Poppy invites Emilia and cousin Lucy – another second daughter – to travel across Italy for her birthday, they jump on the opportunity, especially since Poppy promises she can break the curse.

However, Poppy is dying from cancer and has another agenda: reunite with the love of her life that she was separated from with the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Can they break the curse, and will family secrets destroy these already shaky relationships? There are secrets and pain they all must overcome.

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany is also a story perfect for romance lovers and those wishing to step out of their comfort zone.

Novels about Italy and Italian life don’t get any more devour-worthy than this.

Read The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Set In Capri, Sex And Vanity By Kevin Kwan book cover with apartment building with someone floating in a pool on the rooftop surrounded by pink treesPin

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

A 2020 book release by the author of Crazy Rich Asians, Kwan entrances readers with the beautiful and wealthy island of Capri. We just eat up island books.

One of the most fun books set in Italy and NYC, you’ll head to the shores of the Amalfi Coast for a steamy romance and one compromising situation.

Sex and Vanity is a modern-day A Room With A View.

Lucie meets George Zao during a fancy wedding weekend. George is Chinese-born and raised in Australia while Lucie is a Churchill, making them an unlikely and ‘socially’ unacceptable match.

At first, Lucie cannot tolerate George until she finds herself in his warm embrace.

Years later and back in NYC, Lucie is engaged to Cecil, a pompous and new money douche bag.

When George moves to New York for work, though, Lucie must decide who she really loves, including herself.

Read Sex and Vanity: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter book cover with Italian coastal townPin

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

A novel set along the Italian coast, Beautiful Ruins is another one of those Italy books that people either love or don’t.

In 1962, a young innkeeper experiences love at first sight as he spies an American actress coming into land via boat.

The caveat is that she is dying.

Over the course of 50 years, readers watch as the story begins with an older Italian man in search of the mysterious actress.

Read Beautiful Ruins: Amazon | Goodreads

Angels And Demons by Dan Brown red and black book cover with the VaticanPin

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Beginning at CERN in Switzerland, Robert Langdon examines a symbol seared into one of their dead physicists, proof of the existence of the Illuminati. Why have they returned?

To take revenge on the Catholic Church, of course. And where better than the Vatican?

The Illuminati have set a bomb hidden deep within Vatican City that Langdon must find and disable before all of history is lost.

Angels & Demons is the first in the Robert Langdon series and is one of the most thrilling and fast-paced books about Italy on this list.

In the fourth book in the series, Inferno – a novel set in Florence, Italy – Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with an assassin trailing him.

If CERN intrigues you, travel further into Switzerland with these books.

Read Angels & Demons: Amazon | Goodreads

Under A Dancing Star by Laura Wood green book cover with dragonflies floating over a homePin

Under A Dancing Star by Laura Wood

For YA novels about Italy and summer vacations, travel to the Italian countryside with Bea.

It’s England in the 1930s, and while Bea’s parents worry about her marriage potential, she’d rather be studying natural history.

Bea’s entire worldview becomes much larger as she heads off to Italy where unbeknownst to her parents, she’s about to join a bohemian artist retreat with her uncle and his fiancé.

When Bea meets Ben, she must decide if she wants a casual summer fling. He’s arrogant but also cute. The catch, of course, is that this romance cannot lead to falling in love.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Under A Dancing Star is a fluffier romance with occasional political context.

Read Under A Dancing Star: Amazon | Goodreads

The Glassblower Of Murano by Marina Fiorato book cover with a young white woman wearing a red heart necklace and looking at Venice, ItalyPin

The Glassblower Of Murano by Marina Fiorato

If you crave historical books about Italy and European history, head to Venice in Fiorato’s The Glassblower Of Murano.

It’s 1681 where glassblowing and Venetian mirrors are everything.

In an effort to protect his daughter, the most renowned glassblower, Corradino Manin, discloses his trade secrets to Louis XIV of France.

Flash forward to the present day where Leonora Manin runs off to Italy, linking herself to one deceptive past.

Read The Glassblower Of Murano: Amazon | Goodreads

YA Books Set In Italy, Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welc book cover with green and pink ice cream conePin

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Another one of the best light and fluffy books set in Italy, don’t skip Love and Gelato.

For YA armchair travelers, especially, Jenna Evans Welch creates the sweetest stories abroad.

Lina is spending her summer in Tuscany.

She’s trying to better understand her estranged father – her mother’s dying wish. Lina is, of course, not happy with this forced vacation until she starts reading her mother’s Italian journal.

Lina learns more about her family than she ever could have imagined while discovering some Italian romance of her own.

Find even more of Jenna Evan Welch’s books on our books set in Greece and Ireland books reading lists.

Read Love and Gelato: Amazon | Goodreads

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper book cover with blonde white woman looking over the shoulder of a brunette malePin

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

One of the lesser-known YA books about Italy, The Juliet Club promises to transport readers to Verona, Italy.

Kate Sanderson is studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Verona as well as volunteering for the Juliet Club, answering love letters sent from around the world.

Attending a seminar with other Americans and Italians, Kate finds herself drawn into the romance of her setting.

Read The Juliet Club: Amazon | Goodreads

Classic Italy Books

Classic books set in Italy, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare pink book coverPin

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

One of the most famous classic novels about Italy, everyone knows the tragic story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Set in Verona and Mantua, the Montagues and the Capulets are feuding enemies. Yet, their children fall in love.

Juliet is arranged to marry another man; so, she and Romeo plan to wed in secret. When Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin in a street fight, he is banished from the kingdom, ruining their plans.

As Romeo tries to make it back before it’s too late, Juliet hatches an ill-thought-out scheme of her own. Unfortunately, everything goes terribly wrong.

Read Romeo and Juliet: Amazon | Goodreads

Classic Books About Italy, A Room With A View by E.M. Forster blue book cover with Florence and ArnoPin

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

If you are looking for books set in Florence, Italy, try the classic A Room With A View.

First published in 1908, uptight Lucy visits her cousin Charlotte in Florence.

Lucy is a product of Edwardian England, which is infamous for its structure and rigidity. Florence opens Lucy’s eyes and heart to the world, but when George kisses her, she is dragged back home.

Now with a stuffy fiancé, Cecil Vyse, Lucy has to determine who and what she really wants.

Read A Room With A View: Amazon | Goodreads

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway book cover with American flags hanging in a crowded cityPin

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell To Arms is one of the many historical fiction books about Italy that portrays war.

In 1918, as an ambulance corps volunteer, Hemingway chronicles wartime along with its effects on friendship and love.

Adapted into a play, film, and mini-series, this is a well-known World War I love story.

Read A Farewell To Arms: Amazon | Goodreads

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller blue book cover with red soldierPin

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Set on an island off of Italy, Pianosa during World War 2, bombardier Yossarian cannot believe that people he doesn’t even know wish to kill him.

And even more so, he is terrified that his own army is going to kill him before the enemy does. They just keep increasing his missions. 

Hence, Yossarian wants to leave the military, which feels impossible.

Finding himself in a Catch-22, Yossarian can’t claim he’s mentally unwell to quit the army because doing so proves exactly the opposite. Only a sane person would think of a way out.

Catch-22 is one of those classic books about Italy and war that most American high schoolers or college students have read.

Explore the all-time best books about World War 2.

Read Catch-22: Amazon | Goodreads

Save These Books About Italian History, Culture, & Life For Later:

Italy Books and Novels About Italy Pinterest pin with aerial view of Naples with pinkish sky, water, and buildings and book covers for The Glassblower of Murano, The Shape of Water, La Bella Figura, Italian Ways, In Other Words, My Brilliant Friend, Gomorron, Under The Tuscan SunPin
Did you find new books about Italy to read? Save this list for later, and travel around the world with The Uncorked Librarian.

Grab your favorite Italy books to take you there here:

  • Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
  • Book of the Month: Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Stream thousands of ad-free movies and TV series on demand with Prime Video.

Thank you to TUL contributor, Jeremy Paterson

Jeremy Paterson Bio picture with white male with long redish-brown hair wearing a gray hat and dark shirt in front of laptop with bookshelf in the backgroundPin

Jeremy (pronouns: any) is an autistic writer, hobbyist, and movie buff, as long as that movie is Labyrinth. Since leaving the corporate world behind in 2018, he has read more books than he thought possible. True to his British upbringing, his first instinct in any given situation is to put the kettle on.

What books set in Italy do you love? How about books about Italian culture?

Have you been to Italy, and if so, what areas do you love?

Who are your favorite travel writers, and what Italy travel books are musts?

And, what are your absolute favorite novels about Italy? Which nonfiction books about Italy have enhanced your trip and taught you more? Let us know in the comments.

Travel With These European Book Lists:

Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
Icelandic Books
France-Based Novels To Devour

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Christine Frascarelli

Christine (she/her) is the owner, lead editor, and tipsy book sommelier of The Uncorked Librarian LLC, an online literary publication showcasing books and movies to inspire travel and home to the famed Uncorked Reading Challenge. With a BA in English & History from Smith College, an MLIS from USF-Tampa, and a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Christine's back pocket, there isn't a bookstore, library, or winery that can hide from her. Christine loves brewery yoga, adopting all of the kitties, and a glass of oaked Chardonnay. Charcuterie is her favorite food group.


  1. I’m trying to find the title and author of a novel I read a few years ago set in Perugia. A man, American I think, visits Perugia and becomes entranced by a painting (I think it might be the artist Perugino but I may have mis remembered) and stays in Perugia for best part of a year.
    Does anyone know this book I’m seeking?

  2. Hello, wondering why no one recommends Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan… world war 2, set in Milan, follows a bit of the life ( 14-mid 20s) of a young man. It has it all, suspense, romance, treachery, civil upheaval. It is based on a real person, and it’s hard to believe a person could could survive what these people did during the war!!
    A book that truly leaves you wrung out, and thinking about it long after you are done.
    Can’t wait to read some of your recommendations! Thank you!

  3. Happy to share some titles that I loved, since I can’t seem to get enough of books set in Italy !
    NIVES by Sacha Naspini….a widow in a small Tuscan town learns intriguing things about herself. Seems she enjoys the company of her hen with a crippled foot more than that of her late husband !
    MEETING IN POSITANO by Goliarda Sapienza….because I’ll read just about anything set in Positano !
    WOMEN IN SUNLIGHT by Frances Mayes….this one spoke to me since it’s the story of ladies of “a certain age” who find adventure and romance in Tuscany.
    THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS by John Berendt….mainly the story of the 1996 fire that destroyed the historic Fenice Opera House in Venice. Berendt is the author of MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. I learned so much about interesting people who lived in Venice at one time, especially Percy Bysche Shelley, Ezra Pound, and Cole Porter.
    The book is like a love poem to Venice.

    Not about Italy, but…..be sure to read IN THE SANCTUARY OF OUTCASTS by Neil White.
    No hints here…just trust me on this one !!!!!! Curious ?? Good !!

  4. The enchanted april is great, and old novel from the 50s but paints a beautiful picture of italy, and Miss Garnets Angel, set in Venice, a quiet start leads to the most engaging and beautiful story, it made me book a trip to Venice

  5. UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN!!!! I, too, have only watched the movie, and I’ve watched it A MILLION TIMES. My best friend and I have watched that so much, we can recite parts of it from memory. I really need to read the actual book one of these days — maybe I’m afraid I won’t love it nearly as much as the movie?? The movie is a bit of inspiration for my newest novel, so I suppose I should read the book at some point, haha.

    Great list of books!! I need to get back to Italy. I visited after college with some friends, staying in Florence and traveling around to Pisa and Padua (which I only went to because seeing the Scrovegni Chapel was on my bucket list). I loved Italy, but I didn’t get to explore it all as much as I would have liked. Mr Tart and I are planning to go there sometime in the next decade, haha. We both have Italian ancestry, so we’d love to see where our families are from.

    1. The book for Under The Tuscan Sun wasn’t quite as engaging as the movie. But, the movie also added a ‘movie-ish’ plot, which I totally understand. I cannot wait to hear about your newest novel. Is it the rom-com you’ve been working on?

      We are dying to go back to Italy, too. I took a genealogy course for grad school, which was so neat and eye-opening (and addicting). I’d love to visit the places my family is from, too.

      We loved Florence and exploring its nearby towns. We didn’t do the tourist things, like the Uffizi, which I sorta regret — the lines were 4-hours long and we didn’t plan ahead. I don’t regret making the choice not to go (I’d rather bike ride Lucca’s walls vs waiting in line all day), but I will definitely plan better in the future. We dipped into Pisa just to see the tower, but I am sure that there is so much more to see.

  6. I have to read Sex and Vanity but when I do, I need to be able to go on a literary date in Italy and NYC!? I love the sound of the book. Enemies to lover theme kind of? I also always go for love triangle themes. I never tire of that! Maybe I secretly want 2 guys after me? No, reality is I’ll take just one guy after me. Please. That’s all I ask for.?
    I loooved Under the Tuscan Sun. So beautiful! Okay, confession, I didn’t actually read it. I loved the movie! There’s something about Diane Lane. She’s perfection.
    I read Beautiful Ruins years ago and loved that one. Totally captivated and hooked by that one. Maybe it dragged a bit towards the end? I can’t remember anymore but I know I loved it.
    Love and Gelato sounds so cute. We did nothing but eat TONS of gelato while in Italy. I can’t wait to go back again one day.
    My high school English teacher totally tainted Romeo and Juliet for me. I liked it but he harped on how unbelievable it was how no adults who knew of their plan tried to knock some sense into them. Suspend your disbelief, Mr. Friedman!
    Therefore, I’m more of a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night fan.
    But The Juliet Club sounds awesome!
    Such a great list. I need to read more books set in Italy. It’s such a great backdrop for a captivating story.

    1. Yesss! Literary date to Capri! That would be grand! Sex and Vanity is sort of enemies to lovers expect that the guy always liked her. Sex and Vanity is also a retelling of A Room With A View.

      I both read Under the Tuscan and watched the movie. I kinda liked the movie better? I have another one of Frances Mayes’s books on my shelf that I need to read.

      Yessss, I read Beautiful Ruins SO LONG AGO, and I thought it dragged too? People LOVED IT. Maybe one day, when I have time, I will re-read it.

      Love & Gelato is super sweet, and she has a new book coming out this fall set in Santorini. I have a copy, and I cannot wait!

      AHAHA, I love skeptics of Romeo and Juliet. That would have made it more fun for me.

      Thanks so, so much for checking out TUL Italy reading list. Let’s go!

  7. I really enjoyed A Farewell to Arms when I read it back in high school!! It was one of my first introductions to Hemingway, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I see quite a few classics here that I have on my TBR as well, like Catch-22 and A Room with a View. Love and Gelato has always sounded intriguing to me as well; it’s probably about time that I pick it up. I love the sound of Under a Dancing Star as well!! This is such a great roundup of reads, Christine xx

    1. I had a feeling that you’d enjoy A Farewell to Arms!. Catch-22 is such a classic — I haven’t read it in a while, but I read it a few times for HS and college. Love & Gelato is super sweet and a quick YA read. She has a new one coming out this fall set in Santorini. I already have a copy, and I cannot wait! Thanks so much, Macey!

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