15 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

When I am going to be traveling anywhere I like to read books set in that place before I go. It’s fun stumbling upon places you’ve read about and being able to recognize shops and restaurants and landmarks from a book, but also you can discover places you had never heard of before that may be close to where you are going or perhaps are just a train ride away. Adding these spots to your itinerary can end up being the highlight of you trip!

During this Coronavirus / COVID19 outbreak we are all facing some form of self isolating or quarantine. Books not only keep us entertained but also help us escape when the world around us gets too crazy. Sharing physical books is not necessarily safe at this time, so I recommend you read digitally instead.

*I don’t own a Kindle but I do read everything on the Kindle App (on my iPad.) Books purchased via Kindle (or using the Kindle App) are very inexpensive, averaging about $3.99 *Many authors will mark their first in series free and do box sets very inexpensively. *If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you get as many books as you want, for free. You can cancel at anytime and keep the books you have downloaded. A subscription to Kindle Unlimited is $9.99 *If you have Amazon Prime you not only have access to Prime TV, movies and music but also to free books and magazines. Amazon offers a free 30 day trial to Prime. Links: Kindle, Amazon Prime Free Trial , Kindle Unlimited Subscription

Books can help you get into the travel vibe, or when you get home can keep the magic alive for a while longer. Some of the books on this list are novels, others are autobiographies.

 The books on this list are all available on Amazon and have affiliate links.

Here are 15 books set in Italy:

1 Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes

Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes

Four retired women decide to pool their resources and rent a villa in Tuscany for a year. As the story unfolds you get a look not only at Tuscany but also other parts of Italy, meet some fun local characters and get to enjoy the adventures and love affairs of the four protagonists. This book is fabulous and is wonderful for all ages. Women In Sunlight.

2. An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

After a devastating divorce California native Laura Fraser eventually decided to go to Italy to visit some friends. Unexpectedly in the midst of her heartache she met a lovely and complicated man with whom she then embarked on an affair that lasted for years. This gorgeous autobiography is perfect for anyone who has ever secretly dreamt about finding a fabulous man while on vacation and having an affair with substance that continues as the years roll by. Over the course of several years Fraser takes you all over Italy and introduces you to some places you probably have never heard of before. An Italian Affair

3. Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellegrino

Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellegrino

Pellegrino has many books set in Italy and all are wonderful. This one finds her protagonist at a crisis point in her life. She stumbles across a house swap website, finds a beautiful old summer villa in southern Italy and is able to do a swap with her little London flat as the villa owner needs to work in London for a few months. The story that unfolds is just gorgeous and will leave you dreaming about a house swap of your own! This is one of several books Pellegrino has written that center around the same house, the Villa Rosa. Each of her stories set at the villa will leave you dying to spend a summer there. Under Italian Skies

4.The Venice Experiment by Barry Frangipane

The Venice Experiment by Barry Frangipane

After traveling to Venice several times Barry and his wife decided to take a year out from their life in Florida and live in the most unique city on earth. This book is different from most of the expat-living-abroad stories in that they rent, not buy and only spend one year. The story is delightful and funny and inspiring, exposing the reader to a slice of Venice most tourists don’t see. It is also incredibly relatable because they are just normal folk who bring their computers and work from home. They make you realize that you don’t have to have great wealth to do something like this, which opens up endless opportunities to those of us who would love to do something similar. The Venice Experiment

RELATED POST: 10 BOOKS SET IN VENICE

5. The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life. The Rome Affair

6. Somewhere South of Tuscany by Diana Armstrong

Somewhere South of Tuscany by Karen Swan

Food and Travel writer Diana Armstrong buys and renovates a 400 year old home in a tiny town not far from Orvieto. Once again the cast of local characters is fascinating and fun, the local history is intriguing and you will be left wanting to buy your own home in Italy. I particularly loved when her friends would come visit from the US, and all the food shopping and preparation Armstrong does. Somewhere South of Tuscany

7. My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer, finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer. To cheer him up, Paul’s editor, Gloria, encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on-site in Tuscany, hoping that a change of scenery (plus the occasional truffled pasta and glass of red wine) will offer a cure for both heartache and writer’s block. But upon Paul’s arrival, things don’t quite go as planned. A mishap with his rental-car reservation leaves him stranded, until a newfound friend leads him to an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer.

With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts the offer, and as he journeys (well, slowly trundles) into the idyllic hillside town of Montalcino, he discovers that the bulldozer may be the least of the surprises that await him. What follows is a delightful romp through the lush sights and flavors of the Tuscan countryside, as Paul encounters a rich cast of characters, including a young American woman who awakens in him something unexpected.

A feast for the senses and a poignant meditation on the complexity of human relationships, My Italian Bulldozer is a charming and intensely satisfying love story for anyone who has ever dreamed of a fresh start. My Italian Bulldozer

Glam Italia! How To travel Italy

Don’t forget my books! Both are best sellers and both are available on Amazon worldwide. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets To Glamorous Travel On A Not So Glamorous Budget) and Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome

Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome

8. Inferno by Dan Brown

Dan Brown Inferno

In the 4th story about symbologist Robert Langdon (Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol) he inexplicably wakes up in a hospital in Florence with a head injury, memory loss and an assassin hunting him down. With a mystery bound up in Dante’s Inferno, the story takes you through Florence then on to Venice as Langdon tried to figure out the clues left by a dead billionaire who had planned the release of a virus to cull the world population.

Not only an exciting and fast paced read, this book will inspire you to make your own Inferno walking tour of Florence. (Or join one of the guided Inferno walking tours!) Inferno

RELATED POST: HOW TO TRAVEL ITALY ON A REALLY TIGHT BUDGET

9. The Night Villa by Carol Goodman

The Night Villa by Carol Goodman

After a tragic shooting at the University of Texas, classics professor Sophie Chase along with her star pupil and some colleagues takes on an academic project in Naples. A villa has been discovered after being buried for nearly 2000 years in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, along with a trove of documents. The discovery leads them on a chase involving an ancient mystery, 1st century nobles and a slave girl at the heart of an ancient controversy.

Their billionaire benefactor puts everyone up at a villa he owns in Capri, from where this fast paced murder mystery moves back and forth across the bay of Naples with plenty of twists and turns. Whatever shocking events transpired in the face of Vesuvius’s fury have led to deeper, darker machinations that inexorably draw Sophie into their vortex, rich in stunning revelations and laden with unseen menace.

This is especially good for anyone who enjoys mysteries, Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, and will be traveling to Naples or Capri. The Night Villa

10. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Facing a post-divorce early mid-life crisis, writer Elizabeth Gilbert decides to spend a year traveling alone through 3 countries, Italy, India and Bali, in order to feed her soul, become more spiritually aware and shift her perspective on romance. The first third of this year takes place in Rome and focuses on the food she eats, the things she sees and the lifelong friendships she makes.

Eat, Pray, Love is a gorgeous book that spent 4 years on the New York Times Bestseller List before being made into a movie. Eat, Pray, Love

11. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

In 1962 while Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were making headlines in Rome, an ingénue arrives by boat to a little town just beyond the Cinqueterre. This beautiful story of an actress, a novelist and an innkeeper with a dream combines a little intrigue with 1960’s Hollywood and life on the coast of Liguria. Spanning 50 years, this is a gorgeous story will keep you engrossed until the last sentence. Beautiful Ruins

12. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

This is first in a murder mystery series set in Venice. Local police detective Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates the murder of a much disliked but brilliant German conductor during the intermission at the La Fenice opera house. He works his way through the mystery with the backdrop of Venice, its culture and somewhat dirty politics. This entire series is tremendous, especially if you are going to or already love Venice. Death at La Fenice

13. Extra Virgin (Amongst The Olive Groves Of Liguria)by Annie Hawes

Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes

This autobiography is first in series about two sisters who decide to escape the dreary British winter and run away to a hilltop town in Liguria to work the season in a rose grafting business. (Not knowing anything about roses). Of course nothing goes as planned, but they fall in love with this crazy little town and end up buying a rundown cottage which is really not much more than a shed and costs them less than a used car.

With a non-existent budget they slowly renovate the cottage not only making it livable but also building themselves a new life.

This series is hilarious and inspiring and once again will have you planning to buy a little old place somewhere beautiful in Italy. Extra Virgin (Amongst The Olive Groves of Liguria)

RELATED POST: 8 CRUCIAL THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE

14. Head Over Heel (Seduced By Southern Italy)by Chris Harrison

Head Over Heel, Seduced By Southern Italy by Chris Harrison

Another first in series autobiography, this one will make you fall in love with southern Italian life.

When Australian Chris Harrison went to Dublin he never dreamed his life was about to change forever. He met the love of his life, Daniela and before he knew it moved to her southern Puglia town of Andrano.

This autobiography not only takes you through this gorgeous part of Italy with its whitewashed towns, olive groves, incredible beaches and cobblestoned streets, but also takes you along on his journey dealing with every day life. He has to deal with the infuriating bureaucracy and with Daniela’s mamma who is determined to convert him to Catholicism and build an extension to her house for them to live in.

Funny and engaging, this book will have you planning a trip to beautiful southern Puglia! Head Over Hell (Seduced By Southern Italy)

15. Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

The true story of Frances and her husband Ed buying and renovating an old home in Tuscany. Endlessly enjoyable more than 20 years after first being published, it will make you dream about buying your own villa in Tuscany. If you have watched the movie you can still enjoy the book as other than the house being called Bramasole, the town being Cortona and there really being a team of Polish workers, the two stories are vastly different. Under The Tuscan Sun

Are you planning on traveling to Italy any time soon (or ever)? My Private Members Newsletter comes out twice each month with helpful information for travelers to Italy. From foods you need to try to festivals happening to secret places most tourists don’t know about, it’s all in the newsletter. Join the newsletter HERE

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10 Fabulous Books You Need To Read Before Traveling To Venice

10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice. Any or all of these books are wonderful to read before traveling to Venice. They will open your eyes to new places, make your trip more special and spectacular, and add an extra layer of magic to your experience in the most unique city on earth.

One of the things I love to do as I prepare for a trip is to watch as many movies as I can that are set in the country I am traveling to, and read books that take place in that country or ideally in that specific city.

This clues me in to lots of cool things to look out for, things that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about, and it also gives that frisson of excitement when you recognize something from a book or movie that you have loved.

I love geeking out and walking to the places in Florence and Rome that Dan Brown sends his characters to in the Angels and Demons/ Da Vinci Code/ Inferno series. In Paris I get ridiculous amounts of pleasure from hitting the places Owen Wilson goes to in the movie Midnight In Paris. The steps he sits on when he gets picked up at midnight would be completely unremarkable to anyone who hasn’t seen the film, but to all who have seen it there is a thrill in sitting on them and having someone take your photo!

RELATED POST: FABULOUS BOOKS SET IN PARIS

Every year I say I want to spend more time in Venice. Most of my Glam Italia Tours only spend a day there, and although I arrive in Italy before my tour groups get there and generally stay on a few extra days at the end, I never seem to be getting that extra time in Venice. I always find myself in Tuscany or in Rome or somewhere at the beach.

This past June (2018) I gave myself a week in Venice. I had a tour that ended with 3 days there, then spent another few days by myself doing all the things I hadn’t been able to do in ages. It was completely fantastic.

RELATED POST 15 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN VENICE

Of course I geeked out and went to visit many of the places that feature in the endless books I have read that are set in La Serenissima and had ridiculous amounts of fun doing it.

Venice is such a magical city, it is very hard to let go of it once you return home. So, of course I am up to my ears in books set there. I recently discovered a series by Donna Leon that I am now halfway through, and I am going to reread some of my old favorites as well because they are just so good!

RELATED POST: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT KINDLE UNLIMITED, AND HOW TO GET MY BOOK FOR FREE!

Here is a list of 10 books set in Venice that I recommend you read before you go.  I have also attached a link at the bottom of this post with 10 of my secret things to do in Venice, for those of you who want to experience more than the average tourist does. This includes my favorite restaurants, places to wander and things to visit that will keep you away from the tourist crush. It is well worth downloading! Scroll to the bottom of this post to get them.

          10 BOOKS SET IN VENICE THAT NEED TO BE ON YOUR READING LIST

This list contains Amazon.com affiliate links

The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad by Barry Frangipane

Barry Frangipani The Venice Experiment

Barry and Debbie Frangipane are a middle aged, middle class couple from Florida who have traveled back and forth to Venice several times, and have dreamt about moving there one day. This book is the story of them living in Venice for a year, with all the fascinating people they meet, fabulous foods they eat, and the hilarious things he gets up to. (He is an absolute character!)

You too will find yourself dreaming about moving there, and if you are anything like me will get a thrill when you recognize all the places he talks about from his neighborhood and on his daily walks around the city. I have never figured out where the Mail Boxes Etc was though. (you have to read the book to find out why that is significant – it’s pretty funny!) If you do find it you have to promise me you will tell me where it is…

Get your copy here at Amazon.com

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The City Of Fallen Angels

John Berendt wrote Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. Shortly after the film of the book was made he moved to Venice, arriving the day after the world famous La Fenice opera house burned to the ground.

The City of Fallen Angels is an hilarious and brilliant look at Berendt’s life in Venice, his entry into the quirky local society, and his investigation into the opera house fire. In between gondola rides to decadent parties and balls, and his exploration of the most unique city on earth, he also uncovers all kinds of art-world intrigue.

This book will forever change the way you look at the iconic Santa Maria della Salute, (beware of falling angels!) will give the Guggenheim a whole new context, and will lead you to some wonderful things you would otherwise walk right past. I had walked past the little church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli a hundred times, not knowing the story of the New Yorkers behind Save Venice and the restoration they did on the church. As told by Berendt the story is both funny and endearing!

This year I made my Venice guide walk me around the places in The City of Fallen Angels that I hadn’t been able to find on my own. The poor guy has no idea what I have in store for him next year! I really do make lists of places from the books I read, and sometimes I make my guides take me to them.

If you want a really amazing and fun guide for Venice, email me at the address on the About Me page, and I will hook you up!

Get your copy of The City of Fallen Angels here at Amazon.com

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

Donna Leon Death At La Fenice

I only discovered this series when I got home from Venice this summer, and I have already consumed half of it! Donna Leon’s stories are set in Venice with her protagonist Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police. Her mysteries are clever and have the requisite twists and turns to keep you hooked until the last page. Brunetti is the kind of character that keeps you coming back for more. Even if she had set these books somewhere else I would have read them all, but the fact that they are in Venice just makes them even better!

If you have been to Venice before you will recognize the places Brunetti walks. In some of the books he is in the neighborhood where I rented an apartment in this summer, and I can literally see every calle he walks along! (Some of these places are in the bonus content at the bottom of this post.)

Death At La Fenice is the first book in the series. (La Fenice is the opera house that burned down the The City Of Fallen Angels)

Get your copy of Death At La Fenice here at Amazon.com

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi

A Thousand Days In Venice

This is de Blasi’s autobiography, written as a combination of a lush travel essay and a romance.

While in Italy writing for a travel magazine chef and food and travel writer Marlena de Blasi was told she had to go to Venice, a city she had always avoided, to write a story.  After dreading going there she found she loved it, so returned the following year with a group of girlfriends.

While having coffee on their first day a waiter approaches and tells her there is a phone call for her. She refuses it as no one knows she is there. This happens every morning that week until her final day in Venice when she agrees to come to the phone.

The caller is Fernando, a banker who had spotted her across the piazza the year before and had fallen in love with her profile. After daydreaming about her for 12 months he had walked into his daily coffee bar that first morning and seen her sitting there! Too nervous to approach her he had run back to the bank and then phoned to try and talk to her.

On the final day after talking to him on the phone Fernando and Marlena rode around Venice on the vaporetto, and the love affair of a lifetime began.

Within a few months she had sold her restaurant and her house in St Louis and moved to Venice. This book tells the story of their first three years together.

if you have ever dreamed about falling in love in Venice, this is the book for you!

Get your copy of A Thousand Days In Venice here at Amazon.com

Brunetti’s Venice: Walks with the City’s Best-Loved Detective by Toni Sepeda

Brunetti's Venice

This one is on my list of books to read. Because I won’t be back in Venice until next summer I’m going to read some more Brunetti mysteries before I read it. And you know I will do all of these walks! Here is the Amazon blurb:

Follow Commissario Guido Brunetti, star of Donna Leon’s internationally best-selling mystery series, on over a dozen walks that highlight Venice’s churches, markets, bars, cafes, and palazzos
In Brunetti’s Venice, tourists and armchair travelers follow in the footsteps of Brunetti as he traverses the city he knows and loves. With his acute eye for change in his native city, his fascination with the past, his ear for language and his passion for food and drink, and his familiarity with the dark realities of crime and corruption, Brunetti is the perfect companion for any walk across La Serenissima.
Over a dozen walks, encompassing all six regions of Venice as well as the lagoon, lead readers down calli, over canali, and through campi. Important locations from the best-selling novels are highlighted and major themes and characters are explored, all accompanied by poignant excerpts from the novels. This is a must-have companion book for any lover of Donna Leon’s wonderful mysteries.

Get your copy of Brunetti’s Venice here at Amazon.com

Dreaming of Venice by T.A Williams

Dreaming of Venice Book Cover

I read this on the plane to Italy this summer. I’m not normally a romance reader, but at some point had bought this book on my Kindle app, and it had been sitting there forever. Having finished my John Milton book during the flight and with hours still to go, I clicked on it not expecting to like it, but I couldn’t put it down!

Dreaming Of Venice is a good little story to read, especially if you are going to Venice or if you are dreaming about going to Venice.

Williams gives an really good description of  the leading man in the book, an enigmatic character with a pirate-styled black beard. On my first day back in Venice this summer I did a huge double-take when I spotted the man who surely had to be the inspiration for this book! At first I thought I imagined it, but then I saw him several more times and am 100% sure, because two people could not be more similar, even if one of them is a fictional character!

If you read this book and go to Venice, keep an eye out for a water taxi named Tali. You will die when you see the driver! I have made several acquaintances and friends read the book this summer prior to going to Venice, and everyone thinks the same. I keep getting photos of him texted to me from travelers, with messages saying “is this the guy from the book???”

If you spot him and think its the guy in the book you have to message me!

Get your copy of Dreaming of Venice here at Amazon.com

A Stopover in Venice by Kathryn Walker

A Stopover in Venice

I read this book years ago and was actually clicking around on google trying to find it when I came up with the idea of doing a post on books set in Venice. I had forgotten them name of the book and the author, and only found it by typing in details that I could remember about the story.

I loved this book and am looking forward to re-reading it soon.

Nel Everett, a young American woman, is touring Italy with her famous musician husband when, in a moment of fury, she pulls down her luggage and gets off the train. As her life speeds away down the tracks, Nel is marooned and on her own for the first time in eight years.

Bewildered, Nel returns to Venice where she encounters a tiny dog who leads her to a enigmatic stranger, a contessa, and a decaying Gothic palazzo. She is soon drawn into a world of charismatic characters, centuries of Venetian history, and the mystery of a lost masterpiece. What begins as a tale of loneliness and heartbreak opens into a dazzling, enchanting  story of secrets and self-discovery in a magical city.

Get your copy of A Stopover In Venice here at Amazon.com

One Summer in Venice by Nicky Pellegrino

nicky Pellegrino One Summer In Venice

Nicky Pellegrino lives in my home country, New Zealand, and writes books set in Italy. I first discovered her when I came home from a summer in Sicily and had to read everything I could get my hands on that was set there. She had written a gorgeous book that left me aching even more to go back.

Her books are fabulous.

This isn’t a mid-life crisis OK? For a start I’m not old enough yet to have one of those. I’m calling it a happiness project. I’ve stolen an entire summer from my life and by the time it’s over I plan to leave this place with a list in my hand. The ten things that make me happy, that’s all I want to know. How difficult can it be? They may be small things – a perfect cup of coffee, a day without rain – or bigger ones. It’s still the beginning so how can I know?

Addolorata Martinelli knows she should be happy. She has everything she thought she wanted – her own business, a husband, a child. So why does she feel as if something is missing? Then when her restaurant, Little Italy, is slated by a reviewer, she realises that she’s lost the one thing she thought she could always count on, her love of food.

So Addolorata heads to Venice for a summer alone, aiming to find the ten things that make her happy. Once she’s found them, she’ll construct a new life around her ten things, but will they include her life in London?

Get your copy of One Summer In Venice here at Amazon.com

In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel by Sarah Dunant

In The Company Of The Courtesan

I haven’t read this one, but this summer one of my Glam Italia Tour travelers had it with her and was just beside herself as we went to the various places in the book. She has made me promise to read it, and it is on my kindle app, waiting for me to finish my latest Commissario Brunetti book. Here is the Amazon blurb:

My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor’s army blew a hole in the wall of God’s eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid.

With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her.

Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan’s court. But Fiammetta and Bucino’s greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.

A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world’s greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page.

Get your copy of In The Company Of The Courtesan here at Amazon.com

Glam Italia! How to travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) by Corinna Cooke

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy

Of course I am going to put my book on here! This genius book, written by me, isn’t actually about Venice specifically, although I do talk about Venice. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy is essential reading for anyone planning or dreaming of a trip to Italy.

This book helps you to plan your trip, figure out where to go, where to stay, how many nights to stay in each place. We look at transport options, how to get from city to city, from village to township.

There is an entire section of the book devoted to helping you while you are on the ground in Italy. From what you need to know about shopping to how to choose a restaurant, from how to order coffee to a step by step guide on how to use the trains. Italy food and wine is entirely regional. You don’t order lasagna on the Amalfi Coast and you don’t order chianti in Venice. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy has a guide for which wines to order in each region of the country and a guide to help you choose local dishes in each region.

You will learn what to do if you get sick while you’re away, and what to do if your plans go sideways. You will also discover what you need to know about beachlife in Italy, how to work your money, and how to work your phones. There are 26 chapters packed full of really helpful information, peppered with some of my personal travel stories.

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy has already become a best seller. (It’s a really great book!) You can get your copy here on Amazon.com

Have you read any fabulous books set in Venice? I am always looking for more, so please let me know in the comments section below!

Bonus Information:

I created a downloadable PDF with 10 of my secret places to visit in Venice. These are places that most tourists don’t know about and don’t go to, including my favorite restaurants, favorite places to wander around and some really great spots that you will just love!

This is information that I won’t be sharing on the blog. It is just for those who really want to add something special to their trip to Venice. Click here to get your bonus Venice PDF

15 Books Set In Italy That You Need To Know About

One of the ways I find out about new places to visit in Italy or new things to see and do in my favorite Italian cities is through books. I love to read and I love to read books set in Italy, especially the books where someone moves to Italy, buys an old home and builds a new life.

Through the books listed below I have found wonderful restaurants all over Tuscany (Frances Mayes’ books) discovered the Aeolian Islands (Laura Fraser’s book) explored Umbria (Michael Tucker) vacationed in Pontius Pilate’s birth tow (Michael Rips) relived  thousand glorious moments in Rome (Anthony Doerr). I have found new places to visit in Venice (John Berendt and Barry Frangipane) and had a private viewing of a Picasso that has never been hung in public (Daphne Phelps)

If you are planning a trip to Italy, or just enjoy thinking about Italy, here are 15 books set in Italy that you need to have on your reading list. These books have Amazon Affiliate links. Read the Disclosure Page to learn about how this blog uses affiliate links.

As much as I love the tactile experience of reading a physical book I mostly buy books on Kindle now. I don’t actually own a Kindle but instead have the Kindle app on my iPad and read books there. It is especially efficient when traveling!

15 Books Set In Italy To Add To Your Reading List.

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy

Under The Tuscan Sun

I was given this book in 1998, shortly after it was first published, and fell in love with every word. Reading Frances Mayes’ account of buying an old, run down house in Cortona, and then its slow but steady refurbishment reignited my love of Italy and propelled me into traveling back to Tuscany. I have read all of Frances’ books and through them have found some fantastic little towns to explore, some wonderful restaurants (I have eaten at every restaurant in her books!) and have learned to cook many of the dishes she tells us about.

If you have seen the movie Under The Tuscan Sun you can still read the book. The two stores are very different – the only common thread is that her name is Frances, she is a writer and university professor, she finds her house in Cortona and the house is called Bramasole. In real life she was already married to Ed when they bought the property.

Under The Tuscan Sun is a  must read for anyone traveling to Italy, and especially those traveling to Tuscany. You will love walking through Cortona with Frances’ stories in mind, and seeing Bramasole is just wonderful (if you have read the book!)

Order your copy of Under The Tuscan Sun here on Amazon.com

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

An Italian Affair

I found this book by accident and have re-read it many times. Laura Fraser’s autobiography starts with her devastating divorce, her methods to try and mute the pain, and her eventual trip back to Italy to stay with friends and figure out a new life plan. A friend in Florence convinces her to spend a few days on the island of Ischia, where she happens to meet a professor from Paris, and begins a years long affair. Throughout the book the pair meet up for little vacations in Italy, as well as London and Morocco.

Every divorced woman, every unhappy wife, every female looking for some excitement in her life should read this book!

Apart from the inspiration and the intoxicating wondering what if…. An Italian Affair introduces you to some fabulous places in Italy that are well off the beaten path. After reading this book I had to go to the Aeolian Islands to see them for myself, and visit the places she talks about, and have since had many gorgeous vacations there.

Get your copy of An Italian Affair here at Amazon.com

The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad by Barry Frangipane

The Venice Experiment

Barry and Debbie Frangipane decide to skip out on the Florida rat race for a year and move to Venice. Barry’s account of setting up their temporary home and living in the most unique city on earth for 12 months is absolutely intoxicating! Equal parts hilarious and fascinating, The Venice Experiment will leave you wanting to go there, eat at Barry’s favorite places, walk the streets he takes you along in Cannaregio and live in Venice for a while.

Get your copy of The Venice Experiment here at Amazon.com

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The City Of Falling Angels

Have you read Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil? Shortly after the film of the book came out author John Berendt moved to Venice, arriving the day after the world famous La Fenice opera house burnt to the ground. The City of Falling Angels is a fascinating and funny account of Berendt’s entry into Venetian society, his investigation into the opera house fire (equal parts intriguing and entertaining) and the mysterious goings on in the art world of Venice.

Berendt makes his characters compelling and their quirky behavior entirely captivating. As with the previous book on this list you will want to explore the author’s Venice, eat at his restaurants, drink at his wine bars and walk the streets he frequents. Venice will take on a whole new magic for you after reading The City of Fallen Angels.

Get your copy of The City of Falling Angels here at Amazon.com

A House in Sicily by Daphne Phelps

A House In Sicily

After my first trip to Sicily I had to read every book I could find that was set on the island. I found this book by accident, but the timing was perfect as I had just spent time in Taormina, the town it is set in.

In the late 1800s British businessman Robert H Kitson fell in love with this fantastic little town on a hill in Southern Sicily. He bought a piece of land and in 1898 built a villa on it, overlooking the Ionian Sea. The villa, named Casa Cuseni became a hangout for Kitson’s artistic friends. Creatives such as Roald Dahl, Tennessee Williams, Henry Faulkner and Bertrand Russell all sought refuge and inspiration at Casa Cuseni over the years. Greta Garbo loved it as did Picasso.

In 1948 Kitson died, and willed the villa to his favorite niece Daphne, who had loved childhood vacations in Taormina with her uncle. The book picks up with Daphne’s story, from her moving to Sicily to look after the villa, to her refurbishing and maintaining it, the artists who came to work in residence there, and her interactions with the locals, including a mafia don!

Daphne lived at Casa Cuseni until her death in 2005 at age 95. Her relatives didn’t want to leave dreary old rainy London to live in sunny Taormina (which just kills me!) so they sold the villa. It is now a bed and breakfast and museum.

I went to visit Casa Cuseni last time I was in Taormina. The villa is still stunning! I was also incredibly lucky to be given a private viewing of the painting Picasso left at the villa, a painting that has never hung on a museum wall, only the wall inside Casa Cuseni. I would never have had that amazing experience had I not read this book!

A House in Sicily is a wonderful read and will leave those who have been to Sicily aching to go back, and those who have never been, dying to go.

Get your copy of A House In Sicily here at Amazon.com

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr

Four Seasons In Rome

On the day his twin boys are born author Anthony Doerr finds out he has won the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize, a paid year in the Eternal City with a writing studio, to work on a new book.

Four Seasons takes you step by step through that year, mixing the wonder of Rome with the angst of being a new parent. Times two!

I particularly loved this book because the Doerr’s were living around the corner (and up a giant flight of stairs) from the apartment I rent every year in Rome. I know every street he walked along, the bakery and every other store he talks about. I can even picture the faces of the baker and his son!

While reading Four Seasons I made long lists of places in Rome that he talks about, some that I need to revisit, some that I hadn’t heard of before. I really loved this book!

I would love to have a coffee with Anthony Doerr and ask him if he ever went back to visit, find out if sunsets on the Janiculum haunt him (as they do me) and talk to him about living in the Trastevere. Four Seasons In Rome is a wonderful read.

Get your copy of Four Seasons In Rome here at Amazon.com

Somewhere South of Tuscany: 5 Years In a Four-Cat Town

somewhere south of tuscany

If you loved Under The Tuscan Sun, this book is for you! Food and travel writer Diana Armstrong bought a 400 year old house in a tiny town on the edge of Umbria. Somewhere South of Tuscany is the story of the joys and the difficulties that come with buying and fixing up an old house in Italy. Armstrong’s love of food is woven throughout the book and she provides you with simple recipes for all the meals she talks about, whether cooking for herself or for friends and family who come to stay.

The book of course introduces you to a menagerie of local characters, including the owners of the towns palace, Palazzo Monaldeschi. The palazzo was built centuries ago by the Monaldeschi’s, a prominent family from nearby Orvieto. When the Monaldeschi family ran out of heirs the palace was sold to the Cosenza family, who feature in the story.

The little town where Armstrong bought her house is Lubriano, a one road town perched on the crest of a hill, with stunning views including the view of Civita di Bagnoregio. The single road is only 9 feet wide and every home has a front door opening directly onto the street, keeping the neighbors close! There are only 900 inhabitants in Lubriano, and there are no signs on any of this businesses – everyone knows which business is behind which door.

Lubriano is tiny but picturesque. I was there briefly a few years ago, prior to reading this book. Now I want to go back, just to see it again one more time.

Get your copy of Somewhere South of Tuscany here at Amazon.com

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena di Blasi

This book is perfect for anyone who has ever daydreamed about having an Italian romance.

The first in a series of autobiographies, each book is just wonderful, but need to be read in order.

Marlena di Blasi was a food writer and chef living in St Louis. A magazine she was writing for sent her to Italy on assignment. While there they asked her to go to Venice, a city she had always avoided, to write an additional piece. She begrudgingly went to Venice and promptly fell in love with it, so much so that she planned a trip for the following year with a group of girlfriends.

While in Venice (a year later) she was having coffee with her travel companions when the waiter came and told her she had a phone call. No one knew she was there, so she declined to take the call. The same thing happened each day as the group stopped in for their morning coffee. On the last day of their trip she finally agreed to take the call. The man on the other end was Fernando. He had seen her across the piazza a year before, but only in profile. He had dreamed about her every day for a year, and then low and behold she walked into the coffee shop he stopped in every morning! He was shy by nature and completely overwhelmed, so instead of approaching her he tried calling her.

Within months Marlena sold her house and her restaurant, and moved to Venice. A Thousand Days In Venice tells the story of their first three years together living on Lido island. At the same time as she makes you fall in love with the city she also takes you through the trials and tribulations of working through a new relationships, moving to a new place where she knew no one and where the local society was less than welcoming. You will find yourself rooting for her all the way.

Subsequent books track their life and romance as they move around Italy. Fernando and Marlena are still happily married, and she is still writing gorgeous books.

Get your copy of A Thousand Days In Venice here at Amazon.com

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel by Jess Walter
Beautiful Ruins

This book reads like a biography but is actually a novel.

Set on the Ligurian Coast it is the story of an almost-love affair. In 1962 while Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were making headlines in Rome, an ingenue arrives at a remote hotel just beyond the Cinqueterre. The combination of a little intrigue, 1960s Hollywood, an actress,a novelist, and an innkeeper weaves a gorgeous story spanning 50 years that will keep you captivated all the way to the last sentence.

Beautiful Ruins is an absolutely wonderful book. If you have visited the Cinqueterre area you will love it even more.

Get your copy of Beautiful Ruins here at Amazon.com

Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria by Annie Hawes

Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes

I read this autobiography years ago and followed every book in the series, and recently re-read them all. They are wonderful!

Annie Hawes and her sister Lucy leave the grey rainy weather in England to spend a season grafting roses in the sunny warm climate of Liguria (the region of Italy along the Mediterranean that shares a border with France and Monaco.) Their story takes place in a tiny town on a hill overlooking the ocean, where the townsfolk, who have lived there forever,  think these two pale British girls who drink cappuccinos after lunch and have all kinds of unusual (British) behaviors are crazy.  Their interactions with the locals are hilarious and would be enough of a story on their own, but along the way Annie finds a very run down old cottage on the hill, tucked behind the trees. She buys the cottage, which is more like a large shed, for a little less than the price of a used car, and begins remodeling it on an almost non existent budget. The series of books takes you through Annie’s life in Liguria over the course of many years.

Extra Virgin will open your mind to the endless possibilities of buying a home in Italy on a tiny budget,  building a new life in a beautiful place where the sun shines all the time, the food and wine are both plentiful and wonderful, and the gregarious and fun loving people make every day an adventure!

Get Your copy of Extra Virgin here at Amazon.com

Pasquale’s Nose by Michael Rips

Pasquale's Nose

Michael Rips and his wife move to Italy for a year so that she can work on her art while he writes a book. They live in a tiny, ancient town 50 kms from Rome, whose claim to fame is being the birth place of Pontius Pilate.

Michael spends his days sitting at an outdoor cafe in the main piazza, writing his book and observing the eccentric local life taking place around him. Not only is he a masterful story teller, but both he and the towns people are hilarious! I loved this book so much I had to go find the town myself and stay there for a vacation. It was every bit as fantastic as the book indicated.

Get your copy of Pasquale’s Nose here at Amazon.com

Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy by Michael Tucker

Living In A Foreign Language

Did you ever watch the TV show LA Law? I watched it religiously, so was thrilled when one of the lead actors, Michael Tucker, wrote this book about buying a home in Umbria with his wife, fellow LA Law actor Jill Eikenberry. A welcome break from books set in Tuscany, Living in a Foreign Language is a lovely introduction to Umbria, Tucker is endearing and funny, and you will no doubt be left wondering how you too can buy a home in Italy.

Get Your copy of Living In A Foreign Language here at Amazon.com

The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria by Marlena di Blasi

The Lady In The Palazzo

This is the third book in Marlena di Blasi’s autobiographic series. After three years living in Venice and three years living in Tuscany Fernando and Marlena decide to set down some roots in Umbria, buying a palazzo in Orvieto. From the difficulties they have purchasing the palazzo, to the inherent struggles newcomers face when moving to a town whose inhabitants have lived there for generations, this book marries real life hardships with the magic of living in Italy, wrapping it all up in a gorgeous love affair. Of course there are a host of intriguing and funny characters, some history and intrigue, and above all Marlena’s beautiful style of writing.

Every time I go back to Orvieto I find myself looking out for her as I wander around. I would dearly love to meet her, and after reading this book I am sure that you will want to see inside her house every bit as much as I want to!

Get your copy of The Lady In The Palazzo here at Amazon.com

Get your copy of Head Over Heels  at Amazon.com

The House in Amalfi by Elizabeth Adler

The House In Amalfi

I am finishing this list with a novel  by romance writer Elizabeth Adler. After the death of her cheating husband, the protagonist in this story returns to Amalfi to the home she lived in as a child during the happiest years of her life. Her father had been a famous author, and while he moved her to live with friends in America he lived a wild life in Amalfi before his untimely death.

Now living in the house in Amalfi she is faced with the memories of her father, the unusual relationships and behaviors of the wealthy family who own the land the house is on, the mystery of her father’s death, and of course, a romance of her own.

I don’t normally read romance novels, but I loved this book for its locations. If you have been to the Amalfi Coast you will recognize all the places she goes, and if you haven’t been there this book will leave you dying to go!

Get your copy of The House In Amalfi here at Amazon.com

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy

Of course I can’t lave without telling you about MY book! Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy, The Secret to Glamorous Travel On A Not So Glamorous Budget is essential reading for anyone planning a trip or just dreaming about traveling to Italy. Learn everything you need to know in order to create your perfect Italian vacation. From where to go, where to stay, how long to stay in each place, how to get around the country – you will have all the information you need to put your dream trip together.

On top of that I have step by step guides to using the Italian train system, how to order coffee in Italy, which foods and wines to order by region (what you eat and drink in Florence is quite different to what you order in Venice or Rome, or anywhere else in the country). I have guides for shopping, getting your sales tax back at the airport, beaches in Italy – there is so much in this book! I also have some useful phrases for you, a chapter on what to do if you get sick while you are away, and many other really useful and helpful things for anyone traveling in Italy.

Get your copy of Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy HERE at Amazon.com