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Which books to read before traveling to Italy?

Italy is a country that inspires artists of all genres. Present in poems, films and books, the country is the backdrop for many stories, and all the stories that take place here are engaging and charming. Check out our list of must-read books to read before you travel.

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Which books to read before traveling to Italy?

Do you like to read? Then we have a special post for you! Which books to read before traveling to Italy? Countless fantastic books take place in Italy and, I confess it was a very difficult post to do without committing any injustice because, if I could, I would list everything but the kitchen sink! Therefore, today, we present a short list of tips on books for you to read before (or after) traveling to Italy. Shall we learn more? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patriciayou make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”


Two of the things I like the most in the world… Italy and books! And, of course, a country as special as this one illustrates many books and stories full of charm and beauty. And now, finally, let’s go to our list of must-read books to read before (or even after) traveling to Italy. Also read our special post with tips on films that take place on the Italian stage! Click here to learn more!

1) What books to read before traveling to Italy? THE NEAPOLITAN SERIES, BY ELENA FERRANTE

Elena Ferrante wrote four books that are part of the Neapolitan Series. The books address the friendship between women and their poetry impresses! The titles, “A genial friend”, “History of the new surname”, “History of who runs away and who stays” and “History of the lost girl”.

A little more about Elena’s series

The story takes place in Naples, of course, and tells the story of the life and friendship of Elena and Rafaela, from childhood to adulthood. In a post-war environment, in a humble neighborhood, the two create a friendship far from the cliché and the author includes, in a spectacular way, envy, fraternity, intrigue and sorority, all very well mixed and dosed. In time: Netflix intends to take Ferrante’s story off paper and produce a television series. There is still no information on the start of production.

2) What books to read before traveling to Italy? THE PRINCE, BY NICOLAU MAQUIAVEL

Classic! We can define in this way one of the most celebrated books in world literature: The Prince! Written in 1513, but published only in 1532, it was written in an elegant, elaborate way, but far from being a ‘difficult’ book. What is most surprising is that, however complex its content may be, it is written in an intelligent and clear way and, surprisingly, history, if adapted to today, would fit into several situations that we still live and encompass morality , ethics, culture, society and, of course, politics. The book takes place in a failed Italy (precisely in Florence), right after the invasions of Spain and France and develops in a surprising way, leading us to make long and deep reflections.

3) What books to read before traveling to Italy? THE NAME OF THE ROSE, BY UMBERTO ECO

Let’s go for more classics! The Name of the Rose is one of the (almost) mandatory reading books! The book, which was also adapted for cinema, tells the story of a friar, in 1327, who investigates heresies in an Italian Franciscan monastery. The mystery of 7 deaths in 7 days draws his attention, which, from then on, starts to go after what may have happened and who would be responsible for the deaths in unusual circumstances. With a ‘cruel’ touch of humor, the book is also a chronicle of the Middle Ages. Fantastic!

4) What books to read before traveling to Italy? THE DIVINE COMEDY, BY DANTE ALIGHIERI

A provocative and daring book! Dante Alighieri, when he wrote the Divine Comedy, had no idea that it would become one of the most respected, read and loved literary classics in the world! Divided into three parts, Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, the book proposes that the Earth is in the middle of a succession of concentric circles that form the armillary sphere. It adopts the current Jerusalem as the meridian, which would be the place reached by Lucifer when he fell from the highest spheres and this causes the Holy Land to open the ‘Portal to Hell’.

A little more about Dante’s book

Hell, on the Dead Sea, is where all the waters converge, and Paradise and Purgatory are ‘shown’ as segments of the concentric circles that, together, are responsible for the celestial mechanics. At this time, the brilliant Alighieri brings us in a poem some biblical characters from the Old and New Testaments, usually found in Hell, the main characters being the author himself, who takes a spiritual journey through the three kingdoms. It is, in fact, divine!

5) What books to read before traveling to Italy? SUMMER’S LEASE (THE SHAKESPEARE SISTERS)

Great fun! Light, well written and modern! Carrie Elks wrote Summer’s Lease unpretentiously and won over readers worldwide. The books bring together the stories of four sisters, Cesca, Kitty, Lucy and Juliet, young women who end up finding love unexpectedly and where they least expect it. It is, in fact, a series of four books and the book that takes place in Italy, of course, is volume one: Summer’s Lease. The author focuses on the story of Cesca Shakespeare, who is going to spend a season in an Italian village on the shore of Lake Como in order to escape the routine and try to work on her play; there she meets her ‘enemy’ Sam Carlton, who is charming, elegant and beautiful. From there, the rest is history! It is worth reading!

6) What books to read before traveling to Italy? BONUS: ROMEO AND JULIET, BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

How can we talk about stories that take place in Italy without mentioning the master of masters? The classic of the classics: Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare. The book tells the story of two rival families in Verona, but they could not imagine that, while they fight for power, their children, Romeo and Juliet fall in love! Romeo, son of Montague, and Julieta, heir of Capulet, challenge their families and dream of an impossible love and a full future, far from the family fight, however, something goes wrong! The book is the first of Shakespeare’s great tragedies and was written in an irreproachable manner. The book has also been adapted for cinema several times, and has inspired several other stories.


  • It is important to remember that, when adapted, books generally lose their details a little, especially the smaller ones; this is because cinema / television has their own times and, in order not to make the attraction too long, some details are presented only in books!

A little about the history of books

But, let’s start from the beginning: do you know the history of books? Well, the way human beings express themselves started years ago, around 6 thousand years ago, when the first “archetypes” of books appeared. What we know today is actually a modernization of what was written by ancient peoples such as Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Sumerians, among others. They ‘wrote’ their ‘books’ on clay plates, bark, stone, wood, clay, palm leaves, caves, wherever they could. There was not always a ‘story’, or a chronology, but it was clear that a message wanted to be recorded and passed on.

Printing, as we know it today, is nothing more than a modernization of materials such as papyrus, parchments, codices, sheets of paper, and, today, electronic books.

In the old days

In the past, most books were religious books – although we could also find books on history, astronomy, literature and philosophy (which were even more restricted), and in the Middle Ages they were ‘reserved’ only for the nobles, that is, very few people had access to them. Not to mention that the Catholic Church ‘controlled’ the flow of books and categorized some of them unsuitable for reading; these works were listed in the “Index LibrorumProhibitorum”, the famous “Index of Prohibited Books”.

The invention of the press

In the 15th century, the German Johann Gutenberg invented the Press, inspired by the mobile press, which was like an archaic ‘printer’, but which allowed for production on a larger scale. From it, production became cheaper, making it possible for books to reach many more people around the world and, at the same time, Europe ‘took advantage’ of the decline of the feudal system, the rise of the bourgeoisie and the Protestant reform to expand literary production and distribution.

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Which books to read before traveling to Italy? Reading is delicious and when we take a good book in hand, we do not even see the time go by. Obviously, as we have already said, several books that take place in Italy, but here we have collected some of the excellent titles available! Sit comfortably, grab your chosen book and have a good reading!

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