100 books like This Is Rome

By Miroslav Sasek,

Here are 100 books that This Is Rome fans have personally recommended if you like This Is Rome. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Thief Lord

Ben Guterson Author Of Winterhouse

From my list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature mysterious locales and secret objects and strange or magical occurrences, so books with these elements—particularly when the main characters in the books are young people learning about themselves and the world around them—are often very satisfying to me. There’s something naturally engaging, I believe, in tales where someone is thrust into a disorienting situation and has to make sense of the uncertainty he or she faces. The books I’ve written for young readers all tend in this direction, and so I’m always on the hunt for stories along these same lines.

Ben's book list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances

Ben Guterson Why did Ben love this book?

Long a favorite of mine, every couple of years I enjoy returning to this book about two brothers who fall in with a group of Venetian street children and the young master-thief who oversees them. Funke's classic, assured style grants this relatively contemporary novel (first published in Germany in 2000) a charming, old-fashioned sensibility, while the pacing and characterization should appeal to the most modern of readers, at least to my eyes. The book has everything I love in stories for young readersmystery, magic, friendship, and startling plot twists–and the interior illustrations done by Funke herself are lovely.

By Cornelia Funke, Christian Birmingham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Thief Lord as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The magical multi-award-winning modern classic from master
storyteller and New York Times-bestselling author,
Cornelia Funke - over a million copies sold worldwide!

'A completely delicious read.' THE OBSERVER

'Today's young readers will probably love this book as they
love the Harry Potter series' THE NEW YORK
TIMES

'My enjoyment of The Thief Lord grew and grew as
I read it' DIANA WYNNE JONES

Winter
has come early to Venice.

Two orphaned children are
on the run, hiding among the crumbling canals and misty alleyways
of the city. Befriended by a gang of street children and their
mysterious leader, the Thief…


Book cover of Midnight in the Piazza

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids traveling to Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

I discovered this book through a podcast I love about living the expat life. Thirteen-year-old Beatrice has landed in Rome with her professor father, and she would rather not be there. But Rome is full of wonders and Beatrice becomes entranced by the turtle fountain in the piazza outside her apartment, especially when those turtles seem to vanish. The author lives in Rome and is very knowledgeable about the art and culture of Italy, so I learned a lot about art and history without realizing I was learning at all. Middle grade readers will love the mystery, and who would not want to sneak into an ancient Roman building in the middle of the night to catch a thief? 

By Tiffany Parks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Midnight in the Piazza as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Mysteries abound in this exciting race through Rome!

Beatrice Archer may love history, and Rome may be chock-full of it, but that doesn’t mean she wants to move there!

Too bad Beatrice’s father got a job as the head of the history department at the American Academy in Rome—now, Beatrice has no choice but to get used to the idea.

When she arrives in Rome she explores her new city as much as she can, but it isn’t until she hears talk of a strange neighborhood legend that Beatrice perks up. A centuries-old unsolved mystery about the beautiful turtle fountain…


Book cover of The Mask of Aribella

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids traveling to Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

Here’s another magical adventure that has such potential to be a series. Set in a Venice that is full of actual magic this book will appeal to the Harry Potter lovers in your life. Aribella must use her newly found magic to save the city from a grim future at the hands of the villain Zio. Although a fantastical Venice there are plenty of true-to-life details like the Lion’s Mouth, gondolas, and a ruling doge. I really loved the twists at the end. Middle grade readers will be captivated. 

By Anna Hoghton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mask of Aribella as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of The Thief Lord!

Aribella
lives in Venice, the daughter of an impoverished lace-maker.
But she has a deadly secret: when angered, sparks shoot from her
fingertips. Unable to keep her power hidden, she flees - but when
dark spectres rise from the lagoon, the fire in her hands saves
her life. A stranger witnesses the attack - and through him, Aribella
leaves her old life behind and discovers the world of the Cannovacci,
magical warriors sworn to defeat the strange spectres menacing
the city ...

WINNER of the North Somerset Teachers'
Quality Fiction Award 2020


Book cover of Da Vinci's Cat

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids traveling to Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

Da Vinci’s Cat is the right book for middle grade readers who like some magic and mystery along with their history. This book slips between present-day New Jersey, where Beatrice is having to spend the summer with her moms in boring suburbia instead of in Italy with her grandparents like she usually does, and 1511 Rome where Federico is held hostage in the Pope’s palace. It’s a wonderful melding of times and places. I really enjoyed the addition of the cat, Juno into the mix as well. Famous artists Michelangelo, Rafael, and Leonardo Da Vinci all make appearances in the book. A definite winner for the middle grade set.

By Catherine Gilbert Murdock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Da Vinci's Cat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

“Thoroughly charming.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Original.”—Booklist (starred review)

"A story about selflessness, friendship and the importance of seeking unity through difference."—Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Two unlikely friends—Federico, in sixteenth-century Rome, and Bee, in present-day New Jersey—are linked through an amiable cat, Leonardo Da Vinci’s mysterious wardrobe, and an eerily perfect sketch of Bee. Newbery Honor author Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Da Vinci’s Cat is a thrilling, time-slip fantasy about rewriting history to save the present. This inventive novel will engross anyone who loved When You Reach Me and A Wrinkle in Time.

Federico doesn’t mind being a political hostage in the…


Book cover of Raphael, Painter in Rome

Alyssa Palombo Author Of The Borgia Confessions

From my list on historical fiction set in Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history my whole life, and have been reading historical fiction for as long as I can remember. I have a particular passion for the history of Italy, in all its complicated, bloody, and dazzling glory, from the politics to the music to the art to, of course, the food and wine. There is so much within Italian history that captivates, and as a woman of Italian descent it holds a special interest for me. I try to capture the drama, beauty, and complexity of Italy in my own historical novels, and the books on this list all do that in the most compelling way.

Alyssa's book list on historical fiction set in Italy

Alyssa Palombo Why did Alyssa love this book?

Stephanie Storey brings Renaissance giant Raphael to life in this gorgeous and impeccably researched novel. We see Raphael’s early career through his time in Rome as painter to popes, and watch as he navigates the potentially deadly politics inherent in being an artist to the powerful. The novel also gives us an up-close and personal look at Raphael’s rivalry with his contemporary, Michelangelo. Raphael’s antics will entertain even as his lifelong question for perfection in his work will resonate with artists of every stripe – I know it did with me!

By Stephanie Storey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Another Fabulous Art History Thriller by the Bestselling Author of Oil and Marble, Featuring the Master of Renaissance Perfection: Raphael!

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling is one of the most iconic masterpieces of the Renaissance. Here, in Raphael, Painter in Rome, Storey tells of its creation as never before: through the eyes of Michelangelo's fiercest rival-the young, beautiful, brilliant painter of perfection, Raphael. Orphaned at age eleven, Raphael is determined to keep the deathbed promise he made to his father: become the greatest artist in history. But to be the best, he must beat the best, the legendary sculptor of the…


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

Dianne Hales Author Of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

From my list on italy and italian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Decades ago, I fell madly, gladly, and giddily in love with Italian. This passion inspired La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language, which became a New York Times best-seller and won an Italian knighthood for my contributions to promoting Italy’s language. Intrigued by the world’s most famous portrait, I wrote Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, translated into seven languages. My most recent journeys through Italian culture are La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World and  ‘A’ Is for Amore, an e-book written during the pandemic and available free on my website.

Dianne's book list on italy and italian

Dianne Hales Why did Dianne love this book?

This was the first Anthony Doerr book I read—the literary equivalent of eating dessert first. I’ve since savored his novels, but this irresistible feast of delicious morsels of Italian life lingers in my mind. Doerr doesn’t show you Rome. He invites you to live in it with him—during his sleepless nights, in the company of his twin babies, as a beloved Pope lies dying and the seasons bring new enchantments. 

I can’t say whether I love this book more for the writing or for its tender portrait of Rome. Read it for the double pleasures of exquisitely crafted vignettes and a virtual visit to a city that eternally surprises and seduces visitors.  

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

3 authors 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…


Book cover of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

Margo Sorenson Author Of Secrets in Translation

From my list on to take you to enchanting Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Margo Sorenson Why did Margo love 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.

By Dianne Hales,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A jubilant celebration of Italy’s outsize impact on culture, from literature to art, music to movies, that “masterfully examines the multitude of reasons why so many people fall in love with Italy and the Italian lifestyle” (Forbes)

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.

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…


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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Martha Marks 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…


Book cover of Daily Life in Ancient Rome: The People and the City at the Height of the Empire

Sheila Finch Author Of A Villa Far From Rome

From my list on Roman Britain and the Celts.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sheila Finch is best known as a Nebula-winning author of science fiction, but on a visit back to her first alma mater in Chichester, UK, she encountered a mystery that wouldn’t let her go. Who built the nearby magnificent Roman palace that was just now being excavated at Fishbourne, and why? Months of research later, she came up with a possible explanation that involved a sixteen-year-old Roman mother, a middle-aged Celtic king of a small tribe, and Emperor Nero’s secret plans:

Sheila's book list on Roman Britain and the Celts

Sheila Finch Why did Sheila love this book?

A historical novel has to do more than just re-tell a part of history. The author has the duty to make history come alive for the reader, even if fictionalized. That means details about daily life and customs, not just buildings and battles. This book was enormously helpful in describing everyday Roman life. What the Romans were eating and wearing in Rome, they probably also ate (as near as they could) and wore in their colonies. Here I found everything from going to the barber to going to the circus.

By Jerome Carcopino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic book brings to life imperial Rome as it was during the second century A.D., the time of Trajan and Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, and Commodus. It was a period marked by lavish displays of wealth, a dazzling cultural mix, and the advent of Christianity. The splendor and squalor of the city, the spectacles, and the day's routines are reconstructed from an immense fund of archaeological evidence and from vivid descriptions by ancient poets, satirists, letter-writers, and novelists-from Petronius to Pliny the Younger. In a new Introduction, the eminent classicist Mary Beard appraises the book's enduring-and sometimes surprising-influence and its…


Book cover of Disobedient

Kathleen B. Jones Author Of Cities of Women

From my list on women forgotten, misunderstood, or hidden from history.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my college days, I majored in dance and political science. It was the 1960s, so marrying art with politics made countercultural sense. After realizing I wouldn’t become the next Martha Graham, I chose to pursue a doctoral degree in political science. But I never abandoned my first love, the arts. Following a more than twenty-year career teaching about women and politics at several universities, I returned to school myself, completed an M.F.A. in creative writing, and published my debut novel, Cities of Women

Kathleen's book list on women forgotten, misunderstood, or hidden from history

Kathleen B. Jones Why did Kathleen love this book?

In seventeenth-century Rome, a talented young woman artist, Artemesia Gentileschi, is put on trial for accusing her painting instructor of rapeUnwilling to bow to convention, Artemesia pours her rage into her art, inventing an aesthetic against the voyeurism and female submissiveness found in traditional artistic representations of women.

Fremantle heightens the drama and contemporary relevance of Artemisia’s life and art by telling her story in the present tense. Drawing subtle connections between women’s struggles for autonomy and dignity in the past and those in the present, this page-turner of a novel is a searing, nuanced portrait of a woman’s passion for art, determination to right being wronged, and steadfast resolve to be recognized as a great artist. 

By Elizabeth Fremantle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors 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…


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