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What to Read while You’re Sipping on Vino in Italy

by  | July 21
Italian Books

Whether you’re planning a trip to Italy in the near future, or heading there from the couch, below are the best books to put you into the Italian mindset. When I visited Italy, it was such a relaxed, effortless kind of place. You get a great sense of that culture from these books set there, and it really takes me back to those days of eating gelato while strolling through the ancient cities!  

My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend

by Elena Ferrante

You can’t talk about Italian fiction today without mentioning the Neapolitan queen Elena Ferrante. My Brilliant Friend, the first in the massively popular series, tells the story of the friendship between Elena and Lila, while also interweaving the story of their neighborhood, community, and country. As the relationship between the protagonists transforms, so does the world around them, which makes this the perfect book to read as you travel through Italy, even vicariously 

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The Eight Mountains

The Eight Mountains

by Paolo Cognetti

If female friendship isn’t your thing, you could always try the opposite. Winner of the Strega Prize, The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti tells the story of two boys from different backgrounds who meet in the mountains of the Italian alps and spend their summers exploring together and creating a deep and lasting friendship. If you’re going up north, to Turin, Milan, or to the Aosta Valley where The Eight Mountains is set, this is definitely the book to take with you.  

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Four Seasons in Rome

Four Seasons in Rome

by Anthony Doerr

If you’d prefer a Roman adventure, the memoir Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr (author of All the Light We Cannot See) is for you. Doerr spends a year in Rome after winning the Rome Prize, a prestigious award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters that comes with a stipend and a writing studio. He explores the city with his wife and his newborn twins, who were born the day he received the prize.  

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Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons

by Dan Brown

Last but not least, if you’re looking for more of a thrilling adventure, I would take Angels and Demons by Dan Brown on your trip. I devoured this book in a single night, so it should definitely last you the flight. A fun romp through the Vatican halls and ancient (and totally real!) mysteries of the Catholic faith and various cities across Italy, Angels and Demons is a great companion to a trip there. And bonus points if you find any of the clues hidden throughout the country on your trip!  

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Cara Nesi is a sales rep at Simon & Schuster who sells to independent bookstores in the Midwest. She grew up in the suburbs of New York and attended the University of Pittsburgh before returning to start her career in publishing. She enjoys reading literary fiction, especially absurdist authors like George Saunders, but she also reads A LOT of fantasy, science fiction and young adult books. Occasionally, she writes some fiction and non-fiction too. You can find her on twitter at @caranesi.