The best books to read so you can take a trip to enchanting Italy without having to book a flight

The Books I Picked & Why

La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

By Dianne Hales

Book cover of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

Why this book?

If you love Italy—and if you don't love it now, you definitely will—after reading this engaging, vibrant tribute to Italy! Knighted by the President of Italy for her writing about Italy, author Dianne Hales describes the native, inherent passion of Italians—la passione italiana— as the source and nurturer of our civilization's love for art, music, architecture, cars, ceramics, sculpture, design, literature, film, food, and wine. Bursting with talent and passion, the legacy of Italian passion for life in our culture is ubiquitous and all-encompassing. Italy and its passion itself have taken hold of our imaginations, and your imagination will take you directly to la bella Italia, as it did for me, while reading this engaging book.

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Death at La Fenice

By Donna Leon

Book cover of Death at La Fenice

Why this book?

This is the first of Leon's epic mysteries set in Venice, centered around the urbane, clever and engaging, vice-commissario of police, Guido Brunetti. Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor dies painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice, the world-renowned opera house. Brunetti uses his acumen and wit to discover the perpetrator, all the while introducing the reader to the enthralling culture of Venice, its people, history, and cuisine. I felt as if I were there, at Brunetti's elbow, enjoying a wonderful visit to Venice! And the meals—che meravigliso!

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My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein

Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

Why this book?

Elena Ferrante shot to the top of the bestseller lists with this incredible book and remained there for months, deservedly so. Reading it plunged me right into my childhood spent in Napoli—sounds, sights, smells, the messy, lovely life I led. Ferrante's plot is wicked smart, and her descriptions of Italy and its culture are a perfect way to visit Italy from your chair. This is the first of her series of four Neapolitan novels, so more pleasure and intrigue await!

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Under the Tuscan Sun

By Frances Mayes

Book cover of Under the Tuscan Sun

Why this book?

Another blockbuster book about Italy, this memoir introduces the reader to the ins and outs of daily living in Italy from the viewpoint of an American. The insights into the Italian people and their wonderful culture are truly enjoyable and written with wit and understanding. Her observations are spot-on and welcome the reader into her adventure. Reading this memoir about the villa she bought in Tuscan will make you want to book a trip to Italy and buy your own villa to renovate!

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Death of an Englishman

By Magdalen Nabb

Book cover of Death of an Englishman

Why this book?

This delightful mystery set in Florence not only intrigues the reader with its clever, twist-filled plot but also with its insights into daily life and culture in Italy. The characters are enjoyable and show many humorous and unique facts of Italian life. Nabb knows her Florence and her Italians, and her ability to describe both make a reader wish to accompany her on her next trip!

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