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

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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.

Italy Travel Tip: How To Learn To Speak Italian Confidently

This is Silvio. I met him in Sovana walking down the street with zucchini flowers he had just picked from his garden.

Whether you have a trip to Italy coming up and want to learn a few things to say, or whether you are moving there for work and need to dial up your Italian skills, or maybe you just want to learn the language for fun, today I want to tell you about some of the ways I learn and improve my language skills, and also the online course I use to learn and practice Italian at home.

This post contains affiliate links

Why Learn Italian?

I have a slightly different approach to most people. I’m not trying to be perfect at the language, and don’t stop to think how to conjugate a particular verb, or what is the grammatically correct way to say something. Although I have been learning both along the way, and definitely am 1000x better than I was before. My entire goal with learning Italian is to be able to participate.

I want to be able to join the conversation, chat back and forth with anyone and everyone, and understand what’s going on. This to me is where the fun lies in a new language and in traveling to a country that uses that language. And I have to say, I have no end of fun practicing my language skills on anyone who will let me!

Italians are really fun loving, gregarious people, so when they see you making an effort they are more than happy to help you out.

In the picture above I was talking to a lovely gentleman, Silvio. He talked to me about his zucchini flowers, his garden at the end of the street, and then over coffee he told me all about growing up in this little town in the Maremma (southern Tuscany). He told me about his brother walking home from the war after being a prisoner in Russia, arriving home barefoot and just skin and bone. And he told me about his wife who died 32 years ago.

Part of the reason I could talk to him about so many diverse subjects was the online course I use to learn Italian. It’s called Italian With Davide.

Speaking The Language Adds To The Fun

In another little town nearby, the lady in the cheese shop was great fun and loved that I was at least trying to speak in Italian. She taught me a bunch of cheese related words, then put me behind the counter to prank some of the locals. (My friend Anna video’d it)

https://vimeo.com/767903605
My 3 minute job in the cheese shop!

Anyone who speaks Italian will pick up on the mistakes I made, but it’s a great example of the fun you can have even just speaking a small amount. In this case all the other shop owners along the street could hear us all shrieking and laughing and came in to join the fun. I ended up making loads of friends, which was handy because I was staying there on my own for several days.

You may not want to be pretending to be working in a cheese shop, but you can see how using the language adds to the experience!

What Else Do I Do?

Taking a course isn’t the only thing I do to learn Italian. I watch Italian movies and TV shows with subtitles on (Prime, Netflix, You Tube). I also do Italian Reader books like this one and this one and this one. (I have them on Kindle/the Kindle App, so can read a little bit or do some comprehension questions while out and about/on a lunch break/while I’m getting an oil change etc.)

But those things only work if you have something more structured going on as well, which is why Italian With Davide course work so well for me.

The Courses

Italian With Davide has three courses based on your level and ability. The courses are Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

Each course is broken up into lots of small modules. You do them at your own pace, and you can reach out for help when/if needed. There are even chat rooms where you can practice with other learners around the world who are doing the same course as you!

I normally only have time to do a couple of modules at a time, but I do them most days. When I get to the end of a course I often start back over, and keep repeating modules. For me and for the way I learn, this is super helpful. Once you’ve bought a course, you own it and can do it as many times as you want.

Lots of course members do it on their phone while they commute to work. I prefer to do the course at home, but you have all kinds of options.

Some of What You Learn

What I have found super helpful is that you learn real world things that you can actually apply to real life when you’re there.

One example for me was on a boat excursion in Abruzzo this past summer. (If you belong to my newsletter you will already know this story)

On the boat in the Tremiti Islands, the bridal part behind me. It was a super fun day!

I was the only English speaker on the boat. Apart from the captain and the first mate there was a group of 4 women about my age, and then another group of girls doing a bachelorette party day. In one of Davide’s modules you learn about weddings, and the vocabulary of weddings. I had never thought I would actually use those words, but then here I was, on a boat with a bridal party, able to participate in a conversation about the dress, the bridesmaid, the ring, the flowers, the cake – you get it.

What’s In The Courses

You learn all kinds of things that you actually use in real life, and each lesson is broken down so that you learn to pronounce things properly, learn the vocabulary, grammar and expressions. It’s wonderful!

How To Get The Course

Italian With Davide opens for registration several times each year, for about 5 days at a time. If you are reading this before Black Friday 2022, there is a HUGE sale coming up. The biggest discount Davide has ever given. (I, of course, bought all of mine full price a couple of years ago.)

Because the registration is only open for 5 days normally and 3 days over Black Friday 2022, if you are interested or want more information, you should get on Davide’s email list, so that you get notified. For most of the year I don’t pay attention to when the course opens – I already have mine. So being on his email list is the best way to stay informed.

If you want more information about travel in Italy, places the tourists don’t know about, what to eat in Italy, and endless Italy travel tips, join the thousands of people worldwide who get my monthly newsletter. It’s free and it’s really cool! Get the newsletter here.

How To Learn Italian And Speak It Confidently Before Your Trip!

This post contains affiliate links

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you will already know that I have written 4 best selling books about traveling in Italy. I also lead private tours of Italy every summer. So I have a vested interest in A) learning Italian and B)being comfortable speaking it with Italians while I’m there. I use multiple methods to improve my Italian language skills:

  • I watch Italian movies with subtitles on
  • I read Italian learner books like this one, this one and this one
  • I do an online course that I can keep repeating. I do this one.

Italian With Davide

If you belong to my newsletter you’ll already know that 2 years ago I bought my first Italian With Davide course. I love Davide’s program and have been telling everyone about it!

Davide is young and fun and lives in Milan. He totally gets it that the old-school way of teaching Italian doesn’t really work with the modern traveler’s needs. We really don’t need to learn to say things like “Mr. Smith walks his dog around the block.”

We need to learn things that we can apply while in Italy, that let us participate in local life.

So he developed a language learning program that is perfect for anyone traveling to Italy as well as for professionals going there for work. His courses are all online and are done in your own time, when it works for you. If you have a busy schedule it can be really difficult to get to a class at a set time each week. This makes it easy because you do it at your own pace, when it works for you.

The courses are broken down into small modules so that busy people can do 15 or 20 minutes at a time if that’s all they have time for. Some days I do more, other days I just get one 20 minute module in.

I have spells where I don’t do any, but then pick it back up when I have time again. I love this about the program! Once you’ve bought it, you own it, and can go back and re-do modules as often as you want. I find this incredibly helpful as it really gets you learning on a different level.

You Learn Really Useful Things

Learn More here

With this program I’ve learned all kinds of useful things I never knew I would need. For example, this past summer at the end of my tours I spent 5 days the beach in Abruzzo. It was fabulous!

One of the days I took a boat excursion out to the Tremiti Islands. I was the only English speaker on the boat other than the captain who knew how to say “Absolutely! Yes!!” He learned that when he asked me if I wanted a glass of Prosecco and I said absolutely – yes!!

One the boat trip to the Tremiti Islands. The girls behind me are the bridal party. This was one of the most fun days of my life. I told the whole story in one of my newsletters. If you want to know more just bounce me back a reply from any newsletter and I’ll email you a copy!

There were 2 groups of women on our boat. One was a group of local women who were about my age. The other were a bridal party doing a bachelorette day. I was only able to understand what they were talking about because Davide has a module about weddings in one of his courses!

I know I will have made tons of mistakes throughout that day, but everyone could understand me, and more importantly I could participate in conversations. I wasn’t sitting off to the side by myself, instead was included in the fun. Rather than my brain being full of useless phrases, I was able to apply things Davide taught me and more importantly have the confidence to just jump in and be a part of it all.

Course Registration Is About To Open

Davide only opens course registration a few times per year, and only for about 5 days each time.

The course is really popular, so the open spots sell out fast. You are able to interact with Davide (if you want to) so he keeps the numbers somewhat contained.

Italian With Davide is opening again on Cyber Monday. You can either register then, or get on the email list now, and you’ll be notified when the course opens. I had several of my Glam Italia Tour travelers try to sign up when they got back from their tours this summer, but they missed the registration cut off, so will have to try again this time.

I think he also offers one on one training if you need extra help, but I haven’t used this myself.

Check out the courses here

Italian With Davide comes in three different courses, marked beginner, intermediate and advanced, so there is something for everyone, no matter where you are on your Italian language journey. Several of my newsletter members bought the course for Christmas gifts last year.

If you are planning a trip to Italy in the future you will find it so much more fun being able to say even a handful of things with confidence. I heartily recommend at least checking out Italian With Davide.

If you want to learn how I’m able to get a free flight to Italy every year, and how I have been able to travel every year on a super tight budget for the past 12 years, check out this episode of the Untold Italy Podcast where I explain my favorite travel strategies: Untold Italy: How To Extend Your Italy Travel Budget With These Travel Hacks.

You can join my monthly newsletter (sometimes it comes out twice a month) for more insider tips about Italy travel, and places you may not know about, here.

I also recommend checking out my Italy travel guides, available worldwide in paperback and in digital form on Amazon.