Although you’ll be there to experience the beauty and charm of Italy for yourself, it’s always nice to build excitement. There is so much literature on Italy, so whether you’re interested in Italy’s architecture, culture, or the in-depth history of the Roman Empire, there is something for everyone. To whet the appetite, we’ve put ten iconic films and books for you to get stuck into.
Books to read
- Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
In the hope of ‘finding herself’, one woman sets off across Italy, India and Indonesia. Her time in Italy is spent travelling across the country, enjoying the local food and delicacies, contributing significantly to the ‘eat’ part of her trip.
- Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
Author Frances Mayes writes about buying an abandoned house in Cortona – a hilltop town in Tuscany (northern Italy). The novel takes you through the journey of renovating the house, under the Tuscan sun.
- A Thousand Days in Venice, Marlena De Blasi
Set in Venice – the most romantic city in the world – this novel brings you along on a journey of love, separation and risk. The novel guides you through the cuisine, history and ambiance of Venice.
- Italian Lessons, Beppe Severnini
A book filled with timeless lessons – how to deal with situations, challenges and cultural differences in Italy – in a humorous and light-hearted way. Beppe even discusses the differences between the north and the south of Italy, and how iconic both behaviors are.
- Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
Set in the 1960s, Beautiful Ruins is a best-selling novel which tells the story of a love affair on the Italian coast. Their relationship takes a different course and later resurfaces in Hollywood, but Jess Walter describes how simply impossible it is to not fall in love in Italy.
- The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
- Love & Gelato, Jenna Evans Welch
A New York Times bestseller, Jenna Evans takes us on a romantic and adventure-filled summer in Italy. Set in Tuscany, this novel is a great way to envisage the landscape before you arrive.
- The Shape of Water, Andrea Camilleri
Set in Sicily, the Shape of Water is the first novel in a collection of crime and mystery stories.
- Our Italian Summer, Jennifer Probst
Brought together in Italy, Our Italian Summer tells the story of three women who come together, after all traveling to Italy on individual quests. It shows how – whatever path you are on – the beauty of Italy can bring you together easily.
Films to watch
- Letters to Juliet, 2010
An aspiring writer heads to Italy in a quest to find answers and along the way, brings you in on an enchanted story of love.
- Gladiator, 2000
Arguably the most ‘iconic’ film set in Italy, Gladiator is an epic film that shows the courage and bloody battles of a Roman soldier. It gives you an insight into the history of the Roman Empire and a visit to the Colosseum is definitely a must-do in Rome after you watch this film.
- La Dolce Vita, 1960
Also set in Rome, this film takes you on a journey through a journalist living in the Italian capital. As one of the most romantic and picturesque cities, this film is a great choice before your Italy trip.
- A room with a view, 1985
Set in the beautiful city of Florence, a Room With A View follows the highs and the lows of a summer romance.
- The Great Beauty, 2013
Giving an insight into the nightlife of Rome, the Great Beauty tells the tale of an ageing writer.
- The Two Popes, 2019
Set in the Vatican (a city inside of Rome), the Two Popes is an insight into the lives, struggles and journeys of two very different popes and their pasts. They come together in faith in order to make what the Catholic Church and religion is today.
- To Rome with Love, 2012
Set in the capital city of Italy, this film tells the story of a collection of people – both locals and tourists – who fall in love, enjoy each-others company and embrace life in Rome.
- The Postman, 1994
Set in southern Italy, Pablo Neruda befriends a local postman. Set in a picturesque location, Pablo then develops a passion for creative writing and poetry, which comes in handy later when he slowly falls in love.
- The Italian Job, 2003
Like Gladiator, the Italian Job is another film that often comes to mind when you think of Italian-set films. With Venice as a backdrop, the Italian Job is about betrayal that surprises everyone during a well-planned heist on the waterways.
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