What to Read in Preparation for Your Trip to Italy

What to Read

What to Read

Planning a trip to Italy this spring or summer? Don’t miss the smaller, fascinating cities in Northern Italy. Load up your Kindle and start reading!

Whether you are on an Italy travel package, an escorted tour or a do-it-yourself jaunt, besides touring Rome, Florence and Venice, you won’t want to skip some of the smaller or less visited cities in the North. Cities such as Turin, Milan, Brescia, Mantua, Verona, Parma, Ferrara, Padua, Ravenna and Trieste merit a visit.

Because Italy was unified only 150 years ago, these cities all have their own distinct history, some going back to before Roman times. Previous to the Reunification, these Northern Italian cities had well-defined dialects, poetry and fiction, not to mention their own cuisine and wines. Reading the writers who lived and wrote there, and those American and British writers who visited, would be an excellent introduction to each city

Here’s a short list of some of the best novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction each city has to offer, in English and in translation, traveling from western to eastern North Italy, from Piedmont to the Veneto. Download them onto your Kindle, Nook or Sony reader and take them along on your trip. Many of these works are also available at no charge from Gutenberg.org.

Read about Turin

Turin (Torino) is home to the famous publishing house Einaudi. Thus, over the years many famous writers have made Turin their home. Their work is often permeated with the Turin atmosphere…fog, intrigue , the industrial revolution and the Fiat car industry. Here are a few from the past and present: Cesare Pavese, Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Fernanda Pivano, Beppe Fenoglio,Emilio Salgari, Edmondo De Amicis, and more recently Alessandro Baricco.

A good introduction to two key moments in Italian.history is DeAmicis’ Heart and Fenoglio’s Johnny the Partisan (Il Partigiano Johnny)

Read about Milan

The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni, 1827, historical novel

Read about Mantua

The Georgics and the Bucolics, poetry by Virgil, the Roman poet, author of the Aeneid, whose hometown was near Mantua and who wrote about the farming practices of the area.

Isabella D’Este, Marchioness of Mantua, 1474-1539 (Volume 1); A Study of the Renaissance by Julia Mary Cartwright, 1907(Paperback 2010) – This comprehensive biography also treats Ferrara.

Leonardo’s Swans: A Novel by Karen Essex (Paperback – 2007)

Read about Brescia

Under the Sign of Dido: Veronica Gambara (1485-1550), Life, Letters, and Poetry by Ellen Moody, 2004

Read about Verona

Verona was cited in the travel diaries of Goethe, Stendhal ,Paul Valéry, and Charles Dickens. Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare,1590’s

Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare’s Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love by Lise and Ceil Friedman, 2009

Read about Parma

The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal, (Marie-Henri Beyle), 1839

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham, 2007.

Read about Ferrara

Orlando Furioso, an epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, 14th, 15th century.

The Ferrara Bible,the Ladino version of the Tanach used by Sephardi Jews, 1553, dedicated to Ercole d’Este.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis 1962, Long Night in 1943, 1956 by Giorgio Bassani(see the films of the same name) Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant 2009.

Read about Padua

The Duchess of Padua by Oscar Wilde,

The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, 1590’s, a play set in Padua

Andrea Palladio: The Architect in His Time by Bruce Boucher , Paolo Marton (Photographer)

Read about Ravenna

Ravenna Diary, My Dictionary and Recollections.by Lord Byron . The poet lived in Ravenna between 1819 and 1821

Ravenna. A poem by Oscar Wilde ,1878

The Inferno, by Dante. Ravenna is mentioned in Canto V

Read about Trieste

Confessions of Zeno, or Zeno’s Conscience (La Coscienza di Zeno) by Italo Svevo,1923

Ulysses by James Joyce- Some critics believe the character Leopold Bloom was based on Joyce’s friend Italo Svevo. Joyce lived in Trieste for eleven years.

If your trip to Italy includes a stop in Venice, prepare for it with Your Tour of Venice with a Kindle,Nook or Sony Reader , Going to Rome, too? See Your Tour of Rome Italy with a Kindle, Nook or Sony Reader

And most of all, be safe!


Encyclopaedia Britannica

Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature

City Web Sites

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