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22 Fantastic & Dreamy Books About Italy

Headed out on an Italian vacation and looking for books about Italy to read before you go? Don’t miss these books set in Italy to enhance your next vacation or travel via your armchair.

Spark that Italian wanderlust to Sicily, Tuscany, Florence, Rome, and so much more.

It’s no secret that Italy runs in our blood. Both our families are from Sicily and parts of southern and eastern Italy.

Whenever I land in this gorgeous country, I feel as though I am home. If you have ever read Frances Mayes’s travel books about Italy, especially Tuscany, she evokes all of the feels and chills that reverberate in my bones.

We love Florence, Rome, Marsala, Menfi, Noto, the Amalfi Coast, Chianti, Venice, and San Gimignano. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that bike riding along the fortress walls of Lucca is one of my all-time favorite memories.

Heck, I saw John Stamos in Positano. I also barfed from a boat ride there, too. You win some. You lose some…

Whether you are traveling to Italy or are hoping to spark your Italian wanderlust, I’ve read quite a few books about Italy that I know you’ll love.

A few of my favorite Italian-based books include Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (Capri), My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Naples), and of course, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Rome and Naples). Screw the cliché.

Below, find books set in Italy for adults and teens, including many infamous cities and regions. Encounter Italian novels showcasing women in translation and a few classics.

Of course, this isn’t every book about or set in Italy. Discover just a handful that we love or our readers continuously recommend.

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

Be sure to explore all of our European Reading Lists, too.

Books About Italy with picture of Amalfi Coast with blue water and pink flowers
We love devouring books about Italy just as much as we love traveling across the beautiful country and drinking all of the wine. These books set in Italy are sure to transport you there and inspire your next trip.

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Our Favorite Books About Italy

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 trees

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

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

A book 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. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri tan and gold book cover

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

For transcendent and intuitive translated Italian literature, Whereabouts by one of our favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri, is a must. The novel takes place in an unnamed, small town that is most likely set somewhere in Italy.

Whereabouts is also Lahiri’s first novel written in and translated from Italian. This is a short read that packs a large punch straight to your core.

Thought-provoking and meditative, book clubs and deep thinkers will appreciate this Italian novel. You can read Whereabouts in a few hours.

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

We will live more fully, love more deeply, and pay closer attention to the happiness and sorrow around us having read Whereabouts. What a transformative novel. Amazon | Goodreads | Read More

Save These Italy-Based Books For Later

Best Books About Italy Pinterest Pin with book covers for A Room With A View, The Glassblower of Murano, Eat Pray Love, My Brilliant Friend, Love & Gelato, and Beautiful Ruins
Are you looking for books about Italy to read before you go? Don’t forget to make an Italy Pinterest Board for all of your travel planning, and save this Italian reading list for later on Pinterest.
Book Set In Naples, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante book cover with man and woman walking together in wedding attire

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

One of the most recently talked-about books set in Italy, My Brilliant Friend is now an HBO TV series.

Elena Ferrante is also one of our native Italian authors on this list (and a woman in translation; woot, woot). My Brilliant Friend is her first book in the Neapolitan Novels series.

Armchair travelers head to Naples in the 1950s as we watch Lila’s and Elena’s friendship and lives evolve in a story that spans over 60 years. We meet the two women beginning in elementary school, at 10-years-old.

In this slow-burn yet hypnotic story, readers learn more about working-class Naples and one feisty and complicated friendship. I have only read the first in the series, so far. Amazon | Goodreads


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

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I am pretty sure that Eat, Pray, Love is one of the most cliché recommendations for books set in Italy, but I still love it. Know that only one-third of the book takes place in Italy where Gilbert heads out to eat in Rome and Naples.

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.

Also made into a movie, Gilbert learns how to be still, meditate, find and love herself, and love romantically, once again. A thought-provoking travel memoir, I sometimes think a small portion of Gilbert lives within us. Amazon | Goodreads | More Information→

Head to more islands like Bali & Capri on our Books Set On Islands Reading List.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

One of my favorite books set in Tuscany that is also a movie, Frances Mayes’ Under The Tuscan Sun will remind you a lot of Elizabeth Gilbert taking an extended Italian holiday.

A beautiful memoir and Italian travel guide, Mayes paints a vivid picture of Tuscan life as an expat 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 is a go-to author for travel books about Italy from an American perspective. Amazon | Goodreads

Books About Italy, Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes book cover with white brunette woman in water
Italy Travel Guides, See You In The Piazza: New Places To Discover In Italy by Frances Mayes book cover with Italian homes and blue sky
Italian Cookbooks, The Tuscan Cookbook by Frances Mayes book cover with six people sitting around a table with food

More Books About Italy From Frances Mayes

Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes – Three American women and a writer become friends as they form a new life in Tuscany, Italy.

Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life In Italy by Frances Mayes – A companion and Italian travel guide to Under The Tuscan Sun, Mayes extends her Italian life via holidays, visiting Veneto and Sicily. Watch as she forms a deeper connection with the country she loves.

See You In The Piazza: New Places To Discover In Italy by Frances Mayes – Another Italian travel guidebook, Mayes shows readers a more local side to Italy.

The Tuscan Cookbook by Frances Mayes – Discover over 150 recipes honoring Tuscan cuisine in this Italian cookbook.

Every Day In Tuscany by Frances Mayes – Another one of Mayes’ many books about Italy, including recipes and everyday life, learn more about Tuscan life.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter book cover with Italian coastal town

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

A novel set along the Italian coast, I read Beautiful Ruins years ago and remember being captivated but also not madly in love with this popular story. People either love it…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 now begins with an older Italian man in search of the mysterious actress. Amazon | Goodreads

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

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. I read this one before visiting Rome. Amazon | Goodreads

More Dan Brown Books Set In Italy

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) by Dan Brown – A novel set in Florence, Italy, Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with an assassin trailing him.

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

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

If you are looking for YA books set in Italy, don’t skip the sweetest read ever: Love and Gelato. 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 uncovers 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. Amazon | Goodreads

You can find even more of Jenna Evan Welch’s books on our books set in Greece reading list.

Classic Books Set In Italy

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

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

One of the most famous classic books set in Italy, we all know the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I cannot even begin to count how many times I had to read this violent story in high school and college as an English major.

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. Amazon | Goodreads

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

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

If you are looking for books set in Florence, Italy, don’t miss 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. Don’t miss Sex and Vanity mentioned above for a contemporary flair. Amazon | Goodreads

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

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. Amazon | Goodreads

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller blue book cover with red soldier

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 want to kill him.

AND, 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 insanity 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 classics books about Italy and war that most American high schoolers or college students have read. Amazon | Goodreads

Save These Books Set In Italy For Later

Books About Italy To Read Before You Go Pinterest Pin with book covers for Sex and Vanity, Romeo and Juliet, My Brilliant Friend, Love & Gelato, Beautiful Ruins, and The Glassblower of Murano
Did you find a few new Italian novels to read? Save some of the best books about Italy to read before you go on Pinterest to return to this article at anytime.

Books About Italy Our Community Recommends

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

Under A Dancing Star by Laura Wood

One of the books set in Italy on my TBR list includes Under A Dancing Star. Historical fiction beginning in England in the 1930s, Bea’s entire worldview becomes much larger as she heads off to Italy for one fun summer.

When Bea meets Ben, she must decide if she wants a casual summer fling. The catch is that this romance cannot lead to falling in love. Amazon | Goodreads

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

Midnight In Sicily by Peter Robb

We love Sicily and still have family there. Having taken multiple trips now, we’ve road-tripped and wine-tasted across the diverse island.

If you are looking for books about Sicily, including Palermo, Peter Robb writes less of an Italian travel guide and more of a history of Sicily post-war.

Having lived in southern Italy for over 14 years, Robb discusses its stunning beauty against the island’s corrupt politics, including the Sicilian mafia and their relation with the government. 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, Italy

The Glassblower Of Murano by Marina Fiorato

If you love historical books about Italy, 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. Amazon | Goodreads

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

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. Amazon | Goodreads

What Books About Italy Have You Read And Loved?

Do you love reading Italian novels and books set in Italy? Which ones have you read, and what Italian-based books would you recommend reading before going?

Have you been to Italy, and if so, what areas do you love? Let us know in the comments.

You May Also Enjoy These European-Based Book Lists:

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Books Set In Switzerland To Read Before You Go
France-Based Novels To Devour
Travel To Norway With These Books

Plus Head To:

Greece
Spain
Sweden

Fayle Adams

Friday 22nd of October 2021

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

Elsie @ Tea and Ink Society

Monday 17th of August 2020

I would add The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim to the classics section!

Christine

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Yes, I've heard that's a good one, too! Thank you so much for the Italy book recommendation.

CJ | A Well-Read Tart

Friday 14th of August 2020

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.

Christine

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

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.

Lauren Elena

Monday 10th of August 2020

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.

Christine

Tuesday 11th of August 2020

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!

Macey @ Brine & Books

Friday 7th of August 2020

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

Christine

Monday 10th of August 2020

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!