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Book reviews

An Italian Education - Tim Parks

Extra Virgin - Annie Hawes

Memoirs of Hadrian - Marguerite Yourcenar

War in Val d'Orcia - Iris Origo

Books and films with an Italian connection

This section of Italy Heaven is dedicated to Italy books and films. That is, books and films with an Italian connection, that will help you prepare for your trip, make you nostalgic for past Italian holidays, open your mind to new aspects of Italy, its culture and its history, or that will simply entertain the armchair traveller or Italy-lover. This is a personal selection, which will be added to on an ongoing basis.

Throughout this website we've selected useful guidebooks and travel books, with links on our destination pages. We also have an Amazon Italy bookshop with our favourite Italy books (along with our comments), and a specialist Venice bookshop, for the city which has inspired so much art and literature.
> Italy bookshop
> Venice bookshop

Books of the future: Italy ebooks

Whether the publishers like it or not, ebooks and ebook readers are going to come, and they are going to make a difference. Although they cannot replace the 'real' book, downloadable electronic format books are a valuable alternative for many people, including travellers. If, like us, you weigh your suitcase while trying to reduce the pile of books to take on holiday, this could be your solution. On several occasions when travelling around Italy I have had to choose one guidebook when really I wanted to take several. Perhaps you want to have indepth guidebooks to more than one city. Or perhaps you don't even know where you'll end up and want a selection of guidebooks to cover all eventualities. With an ebook, you could take a choice of guidebooks, a phrasebook, dictionary, a history of Italy and a choice of lighter reading, all taking up the space of one book.

It's a good dream. Unfortunately the technology has taken a long time to get right. Many have high hopes for the Sony Reader, available now in the UK. But the range of books is limited, and there aren't many guidebooks available in eformats yet. Hopefully this will change soon. Waterstones's ebook list is expanding and already contains a few interesting travel books.
> Waterstones - for the Sony Reader and ebooks.

Italy books

A balcony in Verona: definitely not Juliet's, but still a major tourist attraction. 'A rose by any other name...'.

There are four types of book that will make a real difference to your trip to Italy. If you start reading in advance of your holiday, you'll find that a literary preparation both deepens your appreciation and acts to whet your appetite.

1. Essential guidebooks:
A practical guidebook for your visit, complete with maps, directions and details of opening times.

2. Background reading:
If you're interested in Italy, ancient or modern, you'll find that books about history, food or culture or more specialised guidebooks will give your holiday experience much more depth. To learn more about modern Italian life, try reading non-fiction by expats like Tim Parks - they give a funny and insightful view into the culture.

3. Fiction:
Reading fiction set in your destination can give a real added frisson to your stay. True, some of the authors never visited their settings, but that doesn't the Verona tourist board any sleepless nights. A nice work of fiction set in Italy can make great airport reading, and you can always take some books of the trashier variety to read in the evenings in rental accommodation, then use the suitcase space for souvenirs on the way home.

4. Language guides
Not particularly glamorous, but even a few phrases will help you interact, make friends, and understand that scrawled notice on the door of the closed museum.

Italy films

And of course there are FILMS: what better way to prepare for a trip to Italy than watching tales of passion and drama (and car chases) played out in front of mouthwatering views and the exquisite settings of movies with Italian locations?

Obviously there are thousands of films set in Italy, a country which has a good film industry of its own. But here are some selected highlights of special interest to the international visitor:

Visit the Italy films page to see a selection of movies of interest to the international visitor.

On this site

Florence books



An Italian Education

Extra Virgin


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This site provides tourist and visitor information for Italy, from Piemonte to Sicily. Designed for travellers from around the world who want to plan a trip, take a holiday, book accommodation in Italy, or just learn more about the country: its geography, art, football, culture and entertainment options.