Looking to learn more about Italy before your trip or simply wanting to peak your interest in the beautiful country? Books and movies are fantastic channels for getting a closer look at another culture without actually going anywhere. The descriptions, perspectives, and information found in books can open your mind’s eye to the sceneries, history, worldviews, and ways of life of another country. In addition, seeing landscapes, watching characters interact, and considering directors’ choices in movies can also give you a better understanding of a culture. Using these resources is a good way to prepare for a trip or help you learn more about a different place. Here are 17 books and movies to check out for travel to Italy.
Books about Italy
1. Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (Fred Plotkin, 1996).
One of the best parts of your Italian experience will most likely be the food, and reading this book will help you take advantage of the culinary side of Italy during your visit.
2. La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind (Beppe Severgnini, 2005).
Get a glimpse of modern Italian philosophies with this book.
3. Italian Neighbors (Tim Parks, 1992).
As an English travel writer, Tim Parks relates his experience of trying to fit into Italian life and culture in this book.
4. A Room with a View (E.M. Forster, 1908).
Lose yourself in this romance novel (also a movie) following the story of a young Englishwoman and her experience in Florence.
5. A Concise History of Italy (Christopher Duggan, 1994).
To learn more about the political challenges and victories of Italy’s past (there’s been a lot), check out this book.
6. The Italians (John Hooper, 2015).
This contemporary book will provide insight on Italian life, as it’s written from the perspective of an English correspondent in Italy.
7. Under the Tuscan Sun (Frances Mayes, 1996).
This popular book (also a movie) follows the author’s experience of moving from America to the countryside of Tuscany.
8. Italian Days (Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, 1989).
Get a closer look at various aspects of Italy including food, art, and history with these travel essays.
9. Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (Simon Baker, 2007).
Jump back into the ancient days of Rome and gain a better understanding of this important history that shaped Italy and the rest of the world.
10. The Leopard (Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, 1957).
In this novel (also a movie), you will get wrapped up in the way the Risorgimento affected Sicilian life.
Movies about Italy
1. Enchanted April (1991).
Watch the stories of four English women looking for a break as they spend their April in the lovely village of Portofino. (Also a great read too).
2. The Great Beauty (2013).
Awarded the best foreign film at the 2014 Academy Awards, this movie reveals the thrilling and extravagant life that Rome can offer.
3. Roman Holiday (1953).
This classic film, starring Audrey Hepburn, will take you through the streets of Rome on the back of a motorbike.
4. Ben-Hur (1958).
Another classic, this movie will take you back to ancient Roman times and give you a glimpse of the famous chariot races from days of old.
5. Tea with Mussolini (1999).
This film follows the stories of several characters during fascist days in Florence.
6. Il Postino (1994).
This lighthearted romance shows how an Italian postman uses his acquired appreciation for poetry to strike the fancy of a beautiful young woman.
7. La Dolce Vita (1960).
Follow a series of stories with a journalist writing for gossip magazines that reveal the self-indulgent nature of Rome.
These books and movies will give you a good glimpse into Italian history, culture, and ways of life. Keep in mind that although books and movies can teach you a lot about a culture, the best way to learn is to go there for yourself.
So go travel, and travel fearless. ~ Kalina Davis.
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