9 Fantastic Book Series For Readers Who Love Italy And France

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post with a new list of books for intrepid travelers. Over the past couple of years I’ve been reading a few new series (new to me anyway) and more books in existing series, all with a travel oriented theme.

I love reading books set in Italy (obviously!) and in France where I have also spent an enormous amount of time over the years. I was explaining to a friend recently that for the most part I tend to read two types of books. When my brain has down time I like to read complex, fast paced thrillers (like Mark Dawson’s John Milton series and L.T Ryan’s Jack Noble series. I also enjoy Patricia Cornwall’s and Kathy Reichs’ books, and anything that moves quickly and requires more thinking to follow what’s going on.

But when I am super busy, which this year has been most of the time, I use books to quiet my mind and relax, so look for a different type of book. Mostly books set in Italy and France and other euro-locales. I am a voracious reader and blow through books quickly, so love reading on a Kindle (I have the Kindle Paperwhite). You can borrow library books on Kindle, you can access prime reading (free books from the Amazon library), and with no manufacture and shipping costs you can access books very inexpensively too. Often authors with big series will make the first in series free, and from there the books run anywhere from 99cents on promotion to an average price of $4.99. Heads up: as an author I can tell you I make the same amount of money if someone buys my books in paperback or as a kindle eBook, so don’t be thinking an author loses out if you buy eBooks!

Anyway, in no specific order the following are book series I’ve been reading over the past couple of years. They make great holiday/anytime reading for you too, and also make fantastic end of year gift ideas. Enjoy!

RELATED POST: 21 Books To Inspire Your Wanderlust

The Department Q Series

The Department Q series is a police series with a twist, set in Denmark. A course of unfortunate events leads the police department to create a one man cold case squad in order to get this trouble maker (Carl Mørck, our protagonist) out of their hair. They then give him a quirky Syrian immigrant and a schizophrenic girl as assistants, and somehow the three of them build their department into a brilliant case solving unit.

The main characters are diverse and quite nutty, but incredibly compelling. These books are so clever and so well written, with intriguing subplots. I’m about to start book 7 on 9 and am dreading finishing the series. Book one is The Keeper of Lost Causes, pictured above. See the series here on Amazon. It is also available as a library book on Kindle.

Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Series

The Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Murder Series is a murder mystery series with a twist. Nathan Sutherland is a slightly bumbling British fellow living with his temperamental attack cat in an upstairs apartment on the Street of Assassins in Venice. He works as a translator of boring DIY manuals, and is the British Honorary Consul of Venice, an unpaid and only marginally interesting position that at least gets him into some interesting cocktail parties. Throughout the series he stumbles into one murder mystery after another, somehow managing to solve them in the end. These books are hard to put down and have the added advantage of being set in the most unique city on earth, Venice

The first book in the 7 book series is The Venetian Game . Check out the series here on Amazon. Also available as a library book on Kindle.

RELATED POST: 15 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

The Murder In Tuscany Series

T.A Williams’ Murder In Tuscany series falls into the cozy mystery category. These are fun, breezy murder mysteries that are easy to read and superbly enjoyable. In book one, Murder in Tuscany, we meet Dan Armstrong, a recently retired British detective who has come to Tuscany on a creative writing retreat for Brits. A murder transpires and as an English speaking ex-cop he is able to help the local homicide detective. The two form a friendship and Dan decides to stay in Tuscany, setting up the rest of the series.

If you enjoy books set in and around gorgeous Tuscany you’ll love this fun series. At the time of writing this post there are 6 books in series with book number 7 on pre-order. Check them out here on Amazon.

The Tuscan Vineyard Series

34 year old Chicago ad exec Olivia Glass finds her life crumbling around her so takes her best friend up on the idea of spending the summer in Tuscany. While there she gets a job in a local winery, buys a round down farmhouse, and finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.

The Tuscan Vineyard Series makes for fun, breezy reading with the backdrop of beautiful Tuscany adding to the splendor. These books are enjoyable reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with Tuscany, dreamt about moving there or has wished they could fix up a rundown stone house in the Tuscan hills. The first book in the series, Aged For Murder, is free on Kindle, or 7.99 in paperback. Check it out here on Amazon. Author Fiona Grace has several other series including one set in Sicily which I have downloaded but not yet read.

Camilla Trinchieri Tuscan Mysteries

I recently started reading Camilla Trinchieri’s Tuscan Mysteries series and have been throughly enjoying them. Her protagonist is an ex NYPD homocide cop who relocates to Chianti to be with her family after his Italian wife dies. Of course he stumbles upon a murder, and then ends up helping the local carabinieri to solve it.

I am midway through this series and am thoroughly enjoying it. The first in series is Murder in Chianti, and is available on Kindle for 2.99. The series does seem to be available to borrow from the library on Kindle too. See the Tuscan Mysteries series here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 14 More Books For Travel Lovers, Set In Italy

Bruno, Chief of Police

Zipping over to my other great European love – France, we now get to meet Bruno, Chief of Police. This 16 book series is a glorious romp through southern France where our hero, Bruno, a small town policeman, solves murders while juggling village life, cooking French food and enjoying local wines. Bruno lives in a remodeled shepherd’s cottage in the hills, grows his own vegetables, and lives a simple but pleasurable life. This is a lovely balance to the complexity of the murders he solves. This is a fabulous series and I am hoping author Martin Walker will keep Bruno’s adventures going for many more books!

See bruno Chief of Police here on Amazon.

The MAGGIE NEWBERRY Mysteries

I couldn’t really get into the first book in this series, but you need to read it in order for the rest of the series to make sense. And once it gets going it is fabulous!

Maggie Newberry is an Atlanta based ad exec (I think she was in advertising?) who comes to the South of France to bring her murdered sister’s body home. While there she discovers her sister had a child the family knew nothing about. With the help of a local conman she works to track down the missing child and figure out a more complex and dark mystery along the way.

The first book in series, Murder in the South of France, combines murder, mystery, and romance, setting up the entire series to follow. This is a tremendous series, 24 books deep at the time of writing this post, with more books on the way. Check them out here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice

The Stranded In Provence Series

Before I discovered the Maggie Newberry books I read Susan Kiernan Lewis’s Stranded in Provence series, and then her American in Paris books. All three series are highly addictive!

All three protagonists in these separate series hail from Atlanta and wind up living in France. This time the initially ditzy Jules Hooker has booked a trip to Provence with her boyfriend, thinking he will propose to her. When he backs out at the last minute she decides to come alone anyway. She then discovers she has booked herself into a remote Provençal village, far from the glamor she had envisaged. She is about to give up and head back to Atlanta when a dirty bomb is dropped in the Mediterranean, knocking out all electrics and communications for the foreseeable future. Now she is trapped in a village where she knows no one, in a country where she doesn’t speak the language, where cars and phones and microwaves no longer work. To top it off she finds a dead body and has to solve the murder in order to save herself.

Parlez Vous Murder is the first book in this series. From the beginning the premise is quite clever, and sets up endless complications for Jules as the series progresses. These books are lots of fun and are wonderful for anyone who loves the South of France

See the Stranded in Provence series here on Amazon.

The American In Paris/Claire Baskerville Series

This series is also by Susan Kierman Lewis with another clever premise. Claire Baskerville is a 60 something American woman with a genetic brain anomaly that makes it impossible for her to remember faces. She travels to Paris with her husband, who is then brutally murdered. Alone in the City of Light Claire now has to not only figure her way around the city, but also figure out who killed her husband. Making matters worse, the local police are hopeless. Claire then discovers her husband had a whole secret life, a financial crisis is looming, and she is going to have to hide out in Paris for the foreseeable future.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable series especially if you enjoy Paris. It’s fun to have a protagonist in her 60s too! The first book in this series, Dejà Dead is free on Kindle or $10.99 in paperback. Check the series out here on Amazon. There are 12 books in the series, with book 13 on pre-order for 2024.

Gifts For Travel Lovers Amazon: 14 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

The post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something via one of these links this blog may receive a few cents commission – not enough to pay the costs of hosting this blog, but enough to help a bit…

Wondering what to buy for the traveler in your life who either loves Italy, is planning a trip to Italy, or who just needs more Italy in her life?

The following books are all set in Italy and make great gifts for others or for yourself.

At The Table Of La Fortezza

This gorgeous cookbook is fabulous both for those who love cooking and those who just love dreaming about Italy! The author bought and restored a beautiful Medieval fortress in northern Tuscany, where she hosts cooking retreats and vacations. Did I mention dreamy?? See here on Amazon

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Murder In Tuscany

T.A Williams has written multiple books set in Italy, all of which are easy, breezy reads. Murder In Tuscany is the first book in a new detective crime series. A British detective receives a retirement gift of a two week writing course at a villa in Tuscany. Preferring to remain anonymous, he doesn’t tell the other course attendees about his past career, but within a couple of days there is a murder in the villa. Of course, he gets drawn in to help the local homicide detective from Florence, and in the process takes us on glorious ride discovering the local town, figuring out who the murderer is, and exploring the villa and its grounds. You’ll be wanting to move there yourself before the book is over and the mystery is solved!

These cozy mysteries are unenjoyable read, even more so being that they’re set in a gorgeous Tuscan town close to Florence. See here on Amazon.

Under Italian Skies

Would you do a house swap with a stranger, and spend the summer in a villa in southern Italy? If so what would you do if you fell in love with the villa, the town and Italy itself and didn’t want to leave?

Nicky Pellegrino’s books are all set in Italy, mostly in the south. And be warned: they are super addictive! I’ve read and loved all of her books.

Her series about the Villa Rosa is wonderful (just be sure to start with the first one!) This book is a stand alone (not in series) but regardless will get you hooked, and no doubt start looking at doing an Italian house swap, or at least daydreaming about it. Under Italian Skies will get you thinking about house swaps, southern Italian towns, and the endless possibilities awaiting you. See it here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice

From Scratch

Trembi Locke’s beautiful memoir has become a hit show on Netflix, but you should still read the book. From Scratch is a love story, a story about loving Italy, and about great loss. You’ll fall in love with Trembi’s story right up until it breaks your heart. Beautifully written, this one should be on your must reads list. See it here on Amazon.

A Beautiful Crime

A Beautiful Crime is a stylish story of intrigue and deception that takes place in modern day Venice. It grabs you from the beginning, takes you through twists and turns and has you questioning: is crime always bad?

Fabulously written, with a real surprise at the end. Love it! See it here on Amazon.

Palace of the Drowned

Also set in Venice, Palace of the Drowned is a combination of mystery, psychological thriller and suspense. Beautifully written, the story takes place in 1966, the year of the biggest flood in Venetian history.

Chances are you won’t be able to put it down – I know I couldn’t. See it here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: Beautiful, Chic, Italian Cookbooks

La Passione: How Italy Seduced The World

Can you imagine painting without Leonardo, opera without Verdi, fashion without Armani, food without the signature tastes of pasta, gelato, and pizza? The first universities, first banks, first public libraries? All Italian.

In La Passione, New York Times bestselling author Dianne Hales attributes these landmark achievements to la passione italiana, a primal force that stems from an insatiable hunger to discover and create; to love and live with every fiber of one’s being. She captures the spirit of the country and explains how the Italian passion drives everything that happens there. Italophiles will love this book!

I have two of Dianne’s books on this list and have just discovered a 3rd to put on my own must read list. See it here on Amazon.

In Other Words

In Other Words

Jhumpa Lahiri was already a Pulitzer winning author when she wrote this book. In Other Words (In Altre Parole) her first non-fiction work, is a memoir about her love of the Italian language and her efforts to learn it.

Deciding that full immersion was the way to master it, she moved her family to Rome, where she began to read and write only in Italian. To begin with this was only in her journal, but it led to this book, an autobiography written in a dual language format of both Italian and English. In Other Words is about learning to express yourself in another language, feeling exiled by your lack of language, and then finding a sense of belonging and reinvention. The book has been enormously successful, and is still an Editor’s Pick book on Amazon. See it here on Amazon.

Murder In Chianti

Murder in Chianti is book one in a three part cozy mystery series. Ex NYPD homocide detective Nico Doyle moves to Chianti to grieve his dead wife. One morning he hears a gunshot and a wailing dog, and when he walks into he woods to investigate, stumbles across a murder. The local police detective on learning of Nico’s professional background, gets him to help investigate the murder, and this is where the mystery begins.

With the beautiful Chianti backdrop, this series is a fun read for mystery lovers. See it here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 21 Books To Inspire Your Wanderlust

La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair With Italian, The World’s Most Enchanting Language

La Bella Lingua is the second of Dianne Hale’s books on this list. She was awarded an Honorary Knighthood by the President of Italy in recognition of this gorgeous book.

The fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Lingua, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with the “the world’s most loved and lovable language” together with explorations of Italy’ s history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle and food in a true opera amorosa — a labor of her love of Italy.

Over the course of twenty-five years, she has studied Italian through Berlitz,  books, CDs, podcasts, private tutorials and conversation groups, and, most importantly, time spent in Italy.   In the process the Italian language became not just a passion and a pleasure, but a passport into Italy’s storia and its very soul. She invites readers to join her as she traces the evolution of Italian in the zesty graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, in Dante’s incandescent cantos and in Boccaccio’s bawdy Decameron.  She portrays how social graces remain woven into the fabric of Italian:  even the chipper “ciao,” which does double duty as “hi” and “bye,” reflects centuries of bella figura.  And she exalts the glories of Italy’s food and its rich and often uproarious gastronomic language:  Italians deftly describe someone uptight as a baccala (dried cod), a busybody who noses into everything as a prezzemolo (parsley), a worthless or banal movie as a polpettone (large meatball). 

Like Dianne, readers of La Bella Lingua will find themselves innamorata, enchanted, by Italian, fascinated by its saga, tantalized by its adventures, addicted to its sound, and ever eager to spend more time in its company. See it here on Amazon

Love In A Tuscan Kitchen

Chocolate cake makes sweet dreams come true. 

In a real-life fairy tale, author Sheryl Ness shares how she fell in love with Vincenzo, a chef in a quaint Tuscan kitchen, over his decadent hot chocolate cake. 

This enchanting memoir will transport you to the cobblestone streets, lush hillsides dotted with grapevines and olive trees, and unique characters that create the backdrop for Sheryl’s Italian love story.

Love in a Tuscan Kitchen is sprinkled with traditional recipes she collected along the way and flavored with rich accounts of how her dreams were fulfilled many times over while living in a picturesque village in Chianti.

Raise a toast and taste pure joy as Sheryl opens her heart to love, and in turn finds herself on a remarkable journey of discovery through the people, traditions, and customs of Italy as the blond Americana fell in love with the chef with twinkling eyes. See it here on Amazon.

The Italian Villa

I’m not normally a reader of WWII fiction, nor of romance, but Amazon recommended this book a while back, so I decided to at least whip through the first few pages just in case. And I’m so glad I did!

The Italian Villa tells the story of a small town waitress in the U.S who having discovered she was adopted, then inherits a beautiful villa in Italy. While visiting the villa she discovers an old diary in her birthmother’s belongings, and believes the truth about her family is hidden somewhere within its pages.
But when a devastating betrayal in the final pages of the diary unlocks a heart-breaking secret about who her mother really was, the chance for a new life shatters in front of her. Can she persuade the locals to forgive her past and accept the truth about her identity?

See it here on Amazon.

Bella Figura: How To Live Love And Eat The Italian Way

“Uprooting her life, London-based Kamin Mohammadi relocated to bucolic Florence. Her glorious memoir Bella Figura is witty, intelligent and heartfelt in equal measure and will delight anyone dreaming of a summer holiday—or a brand new life—in Italy.” —Taiye Selasi, The Guardian

“If you’ve ever thought about quitting your job, moving to Italy, wearing incredible clothes and eating unbelievable food, here’s your bible.” —Fodors

Bella Figura came out at the same time as my first book published, so I have always felt a huge affinity for it as we paralleled our way through our first year of book sales. Bella figura refers to the Italian concept of making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be. This is the story of Kamin Mohammadi’s life changing year in Florence, and how it taught her a happier, more beautiful way of living.

She walks down the street with a swing in her step and a lift to her head. She radiates allure as if followed by a personal spotlight. She may be tall or short, slim or pneumatically curvaceous, dressed discreetly or ostentatiously—it matters not. Her gait, her composure, the very tilt of her head is an ode to grace and self-possession that makes her beautiful whatever her actual features reveal.”

I love this book. See it here on Amazon

Lizzie And Dante

I often ask my newsletter members for book recommendations, and this was one of them. Lizzie and Dante takes place under the sun on an idyllic Italian island. A luscious story of love, courage, and Italian wine, Lizzie & Dante demands to know how far we should travel to find a future worth fighting for.

This is another book that is hard to put down, and that will have you wanting to visit the place it is set in. I loved this book. See it here on Amazon.

Most, if not all are available in digital format as well as paperback. (If you already have a Kindle or if you have the Kindle App on your laptop/phone/iPad etc you can use the Kindle option. If you don’t have a Kindle yet I recommend the Kindle Paperwhite. For years before I bought a kindle I read digitally on my iPad. (Kindles normally go on sale on Black Friday and Cyber Monday) If you have Kindle Unlimited many of these books will be available to you for free.

Tuscan Women Cook: Why You Need This Fabulous Italian Cookbook!

Have you ever dreamed about staying in a beautiful medieval Tuscan town, far from the tourist crowds, spending your days exploring the area, drinking local wine and cooking local Tuscan food? I think about it all the time.

I often get Glam Italia Tour clients asking about cooking classes in Tuscany. Some just want an afternoon class, but others want a bigger experience where they get to live in a gorgeous old villa for a week, shop the local village markets and cook with the nonnas. While looking for a unique and completely special experience for my clients I discovered a wonderful week long cooking program called Tuscan Women Cook.

This is where you stay at the cooking school

Two ladies from California followed their dreams (and the stories and recipes of their Italian Nonnas) and now have a cooking school in Tuscany. What is even more perfect to me is that their school is in a little town near Siena, but off the beaten track. The town, or more aptly village, is called Montefollonico.

Montefollonico

Montefollonico sits perched on a hill between the Valdichiana and the Val d’Orcia, some of the most beautiful areas in Tuscany. The town has a palazzo and is encircled by a 13th century fortress wall. In short, it’s all just dreamy.

Can you imagine yourself sitting here drinking your morning coffee before going shopping at the village market??

But not all of us can just drop tools and go do a week’s cooking class in a hilltop town in Tuscany. So the ladies who own the school put together a cookbook, called Tuscan Women Cook.

Recipes are folded around stories from the area. I love the way they tell you the recipes too. Instead of talking at you as so many cookbooks do, they talk to you. It’s this friendly, chatty tone of voice that makes you feel like you’re cooking with a friend rather than trying to understand chef language in a book.

Crispelle di Funghi from the book

The food photos of course are lovely, but I also love the photos of local people, and shots of the town.

The book is so fabulous that actress and Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli wrote the foreward! Not only is she of Italian descent, she learned to cook Italian food from her nonna and has an absolute passion for the cuisine. Enough of a passion that she discovered Tuscan Women Cook when she and her husband went to Montefollonico to attend the cooking school for a week!

If you want to cook some wonderful Tuscan cuisine this summer (or anytime), meals that are fresh and simple, don’t cost the earth to make and are total crowd pleasers, even if you’re just cooking for one (and you are the fabulous crowd member cooking for yourself!) you will love this book. It is available on Amazon and I have put it in my amazon store (Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels) Here is a link.

You can find out more aboutt he cooking school here.I have no affiliation with them – I just love the book. I’ve had it for a couple of months now and it is a big success in or house!

Do you belong to my newsletter? Later this summer my newsletter members will be getting a free recipe from Tuscan Women Cook. If you would like to be included you can join the newsletter here.

All images in this post are from Tuscan Women Cook.