10 books like La Passione

By Dianne Hales,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like La Passione. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Death at La Fenice

By Donna Leon,

Book cover of Death at La Fenice

Mark Frutkin Author Of The Artist and the Assassin

From the list on historical fiction and mysteries set in Italy.

Who am I?

I have always had a strong, long-lived interest in all things Italian (including Italian food and wine). I spent my third year of university at a campus in Rome and travelled all over Italy during my year there. I’ve been back to Italy as a tourist and researcher numerous times, as five of my ten award-winning novels are set there (in Venice, Rome, Cremona, etc.). I have many Italian friends and my most recent novel, The Artist and the Assassin, is being translated into Italian and will be published by Les Flaneurs Edizioni, an Italian publisher in Bari, Italy. 

Mark's book list on historical fiction and mysteries set in Italy

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

I recommend this book because Donna Leon takes us inside the fascinating world of Venice. Her fictional detective, Guido Brunetti, is not only brilliant at solving crime (in her many Venetian novels) but has a delightful family (wife and two teenage children). La Fenice is the famous opera house of Venice, so we get to go backstage there as well as backstage in the city of Venice.

By Donna Leon,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Death at La Fenice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A splendid series . . . with a backdrop of the city so vivid you can almost smell it.' The Sunday Telegraph

Winner of the Suntory Mystery Fiction Grand Prize

The twisted maze of Venice's canals has always been shrouded in mystery. Even the celebrated opera house, La Fenice, has seen its share of death ... but none so horrific and violent as that of world-famous conductor, Maestro Helmut Wellauer, who was poisoned during a performance of La Traviata. Even Commissario of Police, Guido Brunetti, used to the labyrinthine corruptions of the city, is shocked at the number of…

Death of an Englishman

By Magdalen Nabb,

Book cover of Death of an Englishman

Margo Sorenson Author Of Secrets in Translation

From the list on to take you to enchanting Italy.

Who am I?

I spent my first seven years in Spain and Italy, devouring books and Italian food and still speak (or try!) my childhood languages. The Italian language and culture are precious to me—an integral part of my life. Our visits back to Italy, speaking Italian with friends, cooking Italian meals, writing for the Italian Language Foundation's website, and enjoying our community's Italian movie nights maintain my Italian experience. Sadly, I can't be in Italy all the time, but have found some fabulous books that take me right back! Il cuore e italiano—my heart is Italian.

Margo's book list on to take you to enchanting Italy

Discover why each book is one of Margo's favorite books.

Why did Margo love 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!

By Magdalen Nabb,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Death of an Englishman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of the Florentine carabinieri, a Sicilian stationed far from home. He wants to go south for Christmas to spend the holiday with his family, but he is laid up with the 'flu. At this awkward moment, the death of a retired Englishman is reported. A most inconvenient time for a murder case. Who has shot Mr Langley-Smythe in the back? And why has Scotland Yard felt it appropriate to send two detectives, one of whom speaks no Italian, to 'help' the marshal and his colleagues with their investigation? Most importantly for the marshal, ever the Italian,…

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

Genevieve Scott Author Of The Damages

From the list on featuring complex female friendships.

Who am I?

I love to read and write about complex characters and particularly the “unlikeable” female character. Many readers connect with my characters because they are flawed—they don’t always think or do what we want them to, or what we think they should do, which is often (frustratingly) the case with the real-life people we love and care about. Real, complex people exist in real, complex relationships, including friendships that don’t always serve them—or that do serve them, but in unconventional or superficially unclear ways. I think that reading about contradictory, inconsistent, and confused characters in relationships helps us to be kinder and more empathetic people—and, quite possibly, better friends. 

Genevieve's book list on featuring complex female friendships

Discover why each book is one of Genevieve's favorite books.

Why did Genevieve love this book?

I held out on Ferrante for a while, put off by the complicated neighborhood tree at the beginning of the book. When I finally dug in, I was so riveted by Elena and Lila that I stopped caring about all those other characters.

This book really nails the loyalty that can build out of rivalry in a friendship. Elena and Lila meet as schoolgirls in a violent, working-class neighborhood in post-war Naples. They are both smart, but Lila, the more fiery and precocious of the two, is forced to drop out of school to work. Elena, with a kind of survivor’s guilt, carries on with her education.

As tension bubbles in their friendship, so does an enduring respect and interdependence. The smartest girls in the room need each other, especially in this hard-scrabbling neighborhood where two heads are better than one.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked My Brilliant Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?









Now in B-format Paperback

From one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, comes this ravishing and generous-hearted novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime. The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but…

Under the Tuscan Sun

By Frances Mayes,

Book cover of Under the Tuscan Sun

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From the list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

I remember seeing this book for the first time on my mother’s bedside table.

As a mother of six children (five boys and a girl—me), I strongly suspect she dreamed of escape from time to time. A mother now myself, I understand feelings of overwhelm.

When I read this book back in the late ‘90s I saw a woman brave enough to step into her dreams and create a beautiful and sensuous life. It was bold, and it allowed me to dream of a bigger life. It made me curious if I could ever do such a thing.

Read the story of how she and her husband transformed an old villa as well as their lives!

By Frances Mayes,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Under the Tuscan Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the New York Times bestseller that inspired the film. The perfect read for anyone seeking an escape to the Italian countryside.

When Frances Mayes - poet, gourmet cook and travel writer - buys an abandoned villa in Tuscany, she has no idea of the scale of the project she is embarking on.

In this enchanting memoir she takes the reader on a journey to restore a crumbling villa and build a new life in the Italian countryside, navigating hilarious cultural misunderstandings, legal frustrations and the challenges of renovating a house that seems determined to remain a ruin.

Filled with…

Etruscan Civilization

By Sybille Haynes,

Book cover of Etruscan Civilization: A Cultural History

Sinclair Bell Author Of A Companion to the Etruscans

From the list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated with ancient civilizations since my parents, amateur historians, moved our family to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and we began to travel extensively around the Mediterranean, especially Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. I went on to study classical art and archaeology in graduate school in England, Scotland, and Germany, and excavated in Greece, Italy, and North Africa. My own research ranges widely, from the Etruscans to sport and entertainment in the Roman empire (about which I made a film with the Smithsonian, Rome’s Chariot Superstar). I currently live in Chicago, where I teach at a university. 

Sinclair's book list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans

Discover why each book is one of Sinclair's favorite books.

Why did Sinclair love this book?

If there is a Bible of Etruscan studies, this is it. The author is a revered authority in the field, having worked closely with Etruscan objects at the British Museum for many decades. Her “cultural history” is firmly rooted in the evidence of the Etruscan soil itself, and she is particularly adept at using material culture to dispense with the various Greek and Roman myths about the “mysterious” Etruscans. While the book is a mighty tome, both in its scholarly heft and physical weight, no serious student of the Etruscans can do without it. 

By Sybille Haynes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Etruscan Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This comprehensive survey of Etruscan civilization, from its origin in the Villanovan Iron Age in the ninth century B.C. to its absorption by Rome in the first century B.C., combines well-known aspects of the Etruscan world with new discoveries and fresh insights into the role of women in Etruscan society. In addition, the Etruscans are contrasted to the Greeks, whom they often emulated, and to the Romans, who at once admired and disdained them. The result is a compelling and complete picture of a people and a culture.
This in-depth examination of Etruria examines how differing access to mineral wealth,…

This Is Rome

By Miroslav Sasek,

Book cover of This Is Rome

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From the list on kids traveling to Italy.

Who am I?

I fell in love with Italy when I traveled there with my family in 2013. While touring through this fascinating country, I felt inspired to write about it. When I came home, I threw myself into research. That research spawned my debut novel, Into the Lion’s Mouth, which is set in Renaissance Venice. I am always on the lookout for all things Italian, podcasts, TV shows, and definitely books. Since middle grade is my sweet spot, I am a sucker for a middle grade book set in Italy. Here are some of my favorites that will have you browsing airplane tickets to Italy and beyond.

Nancy's book list on kids traveling to Italy

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

This last book is a classic and part of a series that would be helpful for other travel adventures. It’s the only non-fiction book on the list. But it’s a great introduction for kids wanting to know more about the place they are travelling. While originally published in 1960 the book was updated in 2007. This is a great overall introduction to Rome and its history and a good place to start piquing a young traveler’s interest. 

By Miroslav Sasek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Is Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like the other Sasek classics, this is a facsimile edition of the original book. The brilliant, vibrant illustrations have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to his vision more than 40 years later. Facts have been updated for the 21st-century, appearing on a "This is . . . Today" page at the back of the book. These charming illustrations, coupled with Sasek's witty, playful narrative, make for a perfect souvenir that will delight both children and their parents, many of whom will remember the series from their own childhoods. This is Rome, first published in 1960, traces the history of Roman…

Book cover of A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome's Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

From the list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD.

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

Discover why each book is one of Martha's favorite books.

Why did Martha love this book?

A large part of the last book of my trilogy focuses on one character’s involvement in the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, known today as The Colosseum. As with other complex issues I’ve written about — the Jewish Revolt, social constraints on women, relationships between masters and slaves — I’ve had to make sense of this grandest construction project of the first century. Elkins’ scholarly book helped me get out of the “tourist-in-Rome mindset” and into the “you-are-there-as-it’s-being-built mindset.” I’m currently writing that section, so the jury is still out, but Elkins’ in-depth research and clear exposition provide a good road map.

By Nathan T. Elkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Monument to Dynasty and Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Go behind the scenes to discover why the Colosseum was the king of amphitheaters in the Roman world-a paragon of Roman engineering prowess.

Early one morning in 80 CE, the Colosseum roared to life with the deafening cheers of tens of thousands of spectators as the emperor, Titus, inaugurated the new amphitheater with one hundred days of bloody spectacles. These games were much anticipated, for the new amphitheater had been under construction for a decade. Home to spectacles involving exotic beasts, elaborate executions of criminals, gladiatorial combats, and even-when flooded-small-scale naval battles, the building itself was also a marvel. Rising…

Four Seasons in Rome

By Anthony Doerr,

Book cover of Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Kathleen Reid Author Of Secrets in the Palazzo

From the list on art and Italy.

Who am I?

I’m a Virginia author who loves everything Italian! Artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci have always inspired me with their genius. I’m very involved with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) where I was a tour guide for many years. Now I’m on the VMFA’s Canvas Advisory Committee which helps guide programming and events. In addition, my articles for the Canvas newsletter give a robust behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s amazing exhibitions. In my books my main character schoolteacher Rose Maning fulfills her dream of buying an apartment in Florence and becoming an artist. It is a true joy to write about Rose’s adventures abroad.  

Kathleen's book list on art and Italy

Discover why each book is one of Kathleen's favorite books.

Why did Kathleen love this book?

Life in Roma! This memoir is a gem and quite funny. Doerr’s prose is razor sharp and he cleverly shares his adventures of a year in Rome as a new parent of twins. Having just visited the Pantheon, I particularly enjoyed Doer’s description of this temple built by the emperor Hadrian in AD 125. He wrote, “When you first see it, the Pantheon is about wonder. You walk through the gigantic doorway and your attention is sucked upward toward a circle of sky. A filtering haze floats inside; a column of light strikes through the oculus and leans against the floor. The space is both intimate and explosive: your humanity is not diminished in the least, and yet simultaneously the Pantheon forces you to pay attention to the fact that the world includes things far greater than yourself.” Highly recommend his relatable adventures.

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Four Seasons in Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land, a "dazzling" (Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran) memoir about art and adventures in Rome.

Anthony Doerr has received many awards—from the New York Public Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Then came the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and with it a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned of the award…


By Diana Peterfreund,

Book cover of Rampant

Emily Layne Author Of These Wicked Waters

From the list on monstrous creatures in present day.

Who am I?

I’ve always let my imagination wander wild, like a modern-day Anne Shirley—which is one of the reasons I became an author. I love reading (and writing) books that add fantastical elements to our world or the worlds of far-off characters. As an author and die-hard bookworm, I love to genre hop within the Young Adult age range. You can find me nose-deep in anything from science fiction to a gritty paranormal fantasy.

Emily's book list on monstrous creatures in present day

Discover why each book is one of Emily's favorite books.

Why did Emily love this book?

Unicorns—white horses with horns on their heads. If that was your first thought, prepare for Rampant to turn your world upside down. These unicorns aren’t the fairytale variety. They are man-killers. Literally. I loved how this book took unicorns and made them creatures to be feared. And the best part of all: the only ones that can stop them are a group of teenage girls. Dark secrets, a forbidden romance, and girls that can kick unicorn tail. What more could you want?

By Diana Peterfreund,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rampant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait…


By Elizabeth Fremantle,

Book cover of Disobedient

Gill Paul Author Of A Beautiful Rival: A Novel Of Helena Rubinstein And Elizabeth Arden

From the list on historical novels based on real people.

Who am I?

I’ve written fourteen historical novels now and most of them include real historical characters. I particularly like writing about women I feel have been misjudged or ignored by historians, and trying to reassess them in the modern age. Fiction allows me to imagine what they were thinking and feeling as they lived through dramatic, life-changing experiences, giving more insight than facts alone could do. Sitting at my desk in the morning and pretending to be someone else is a strange way to earn a living but it’s terrific fun! 

Gill's book list on historical novels based on real people

Discover why each book is one of Gill's favorite books.

Why did Gill love this book?

Artemisia Gentileschi was a talented artist, growing up motherless in a family of male artists, in 17th-century Rome, where a woman’s honor was her most valuable possession.

An impulsive action by the woman hired to be her chaperone sets in motion a horrifying and brutal chain of events. The pace of the story-telling, the colorful scene-setting, and the insights into Artemisia’s thoughts and feelings are picture-perfect. This is phenomenal writing by an author who in my opinion is better than Hilary Mantel.

By Elizabeth Fremantle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disobedient as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is the ring that you gave me, and these are your promises.'

Rome 1611. A jewel-bright place of change, with sumptuous new palaces and lavish wealth on constant display. A city where women are seen but not heard.

Artemisia Gentileschi dreams of becoming a great artist. Motherless, she grows up among a family of painters - men and boys. She knows she is more talented than her brothers, but she cannot choose her own future. She belongs to her father and will belong to a husband.

As Artemisia patiently goes from lesson to lesson, perfecting her craft, a mysterious…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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