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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Highlights of Italy

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXITL804. Buy these 4 items as a set for $66 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
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La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

by Beppe Severgnini

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES
  • BEST SELLER

Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia. (ITL718, $15.00)

Italy in Mind

Italy in Mind

by Alice Powers

  • LITERATURE
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 349 PAGES

A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others. (ITL39, $18.95)

Blue Guide Concise Italy

Blue Guide Concise Italy

by Paul Blanchard

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

The first ever guide to all of Italy by the venerable Blue Guides (which publishes individual guides to Northern, Southern, Central, Rome, Tuscany, Sicily et al), this lavishly illustrated, handy and compact guide covers key sights, museums, churches, art, dining and accommodations throughout Italy. (ITL984, $24.95)

Italy Map

Italy Map

by Borch Maps

  • 2011
  • MAP

A convenient laminated map of Italy at a scale of 1:800,000 with excellent topographic detail, an index and large maps of Sicily and Sardinia. (ITL19, $11.95)

 
City Secrets Florence, Venice

City Secrets Florence, Venice


by Robert Kahn

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2011
  • HARD COVER
  • 150 PAGES

Painters, writers, historians and others contributed to this idiosyncratic guide to under-appreciated treasures of both Florence and Venice. Featuring 200 short recommendations. (ITL277, $14.95)

Culture Smart! Italy

Culture Smart! Italy


by Charles Abbott

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 168 PAGES

A concise, no-nonsense guide to Italian customs, etiquette and culture along with helpful travel advice. (ITL877, $9.95)

Eyewitness Guide Italy

Eyewitness Guide Italy


by Eyewitness Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 720 PAGES

Another gem in the Eyewitness series, this superb guide is handsome, convenient and up-to-date. Featuring color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions. (ITL32, $30.00)

Fodor's Florence's 25 Best

Fodor's Florence's 25 Best


by Fodor's

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 96 PAGES

This shirt-pocket guide includes an excellent map and essential information on the city's highlights, including sightseeing, restaurants and shopping. (ITL140, $13.99)

Fodor's Rome's 25 Best

Fodor's Rome's 25 Best


by Fodor's

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 96 PAGES

This shirt-pocket guide includes a map of the city and essential information on its highlights. (ITL112, $13.99)

Fodor's Venice's 25 Best

Fodor's Venice's 25 Best


by Citypack

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 96 PAGES

This shirt-pocket guide includes an excellent map of the city center and essential information. (ITL106, $13.99)

Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook


by Lonely Planet

  • LANGUAGE & PHRASEBOOKS
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 260 PAGES

A handy, palm-size guide to pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler. (ITL531, $8.99)

Made in Italy, A Shopper's Guide

Made in Italy, A Shopper's Guide


by Laura Morelli

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 208 PAGES

The second edition of Morelli's expert survey of handcrafted Italian shops and products from Murano glass to ceramics, jewelry and leather. (ITL473, $24.95)

One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Italy

One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Italy


by Paolo Lazzarin

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • HARD COVER
  • 276 PAGES

This pocket-sized pictorial guide to some of Italy's hidden gems features towns from twenty diverse regions, each with varied landscapes, architecture and local specialties. (ITL546, $25.00)

Xenophobe's Guide to the Italians

Xenophobe's Guide to the Italians


by Martin Solly

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 92 PAGES

This irreverent pocket guide to cultural awareness is both insightful -- and entertaining. (ITA304, $9.95)

Biba's Italy

Biba's Italy


by Biba Caggiano

  • FOOD
  • 2006
  • HARD COVER
  • 320 PAGES
  • OUT OF PRINT

Caggiano focuses on regional, seasonal food in this omnibus cookbook (featuring 100 recipes), menu planner and travel guide to Rome, Florence, Bologna, Milan and Venice. Nicely produced, this handsome sepia-toned book includes recommended restaurants, cafes and markets in each city. (ITL777, $29.95)

8 1/2


by Federico Fellini

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2001
  • DVD

Widely believed to be his finest work, Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical look at a director who's lost his inspiration is a gorgeous and surrealistic masterpiece that dreamily blurs the line between reality and fantasy. (ITA307, $39.95)

A Traveller's History of Italy

A Traveller's History of Italy


by Valerio Lintner

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 287 PAGES

A brief history of Italy through the 1990s -- wide-ranging, accessible and necessarily condensed. With a useful chronology and historical gazetteer, this book marches confidently through the centuries. (ITL86, $14.95)

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas


by Roger Crowley

  • HISTORY
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

Crowley spins tales of three centuries of plunder and plague, imperial conquest and piracy in this riveting new history, chronicling the transformation of a tiny city of lagoon dwellers into the richest place on earth. (MED185, $18.00)

Italianissimo

Italianissimo


by Louise Fili | Lise Apatoff

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2008
  • HARD COVER
  • 111 PAGES

Divertingly illustrated, this A-to-Z guide profiles 50 very Italian customs and concepts from the notion of beauty (bellisimo) to the Italian disregard for lines (Fare La Coda). (ITL983, $19.95)

Italy, A Short History

Italy, A Short History


by Harry Hearder

  • HISTORY
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 294 PAGES

Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present. (ITL56, $29.99)

Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence

Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence


by Tim Parks

  • HISTORY
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 273 PAGES

Parks vividly evokes Renaissance Florence in this lively history of the rich and powerful. (ITL605, $16.95)

The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings

The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings


by R.W.B. Lewis

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1996
  • PAPER
  • 350 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls "a partial biography of Florence," beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical. (ITL47, $22.99)

The Italian Renaissance

The Italian Renaissance


by J. H. Plumb

  • HISTORY
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 320 PAGES

A well-written history of the Renaissance, its artists and thinkers, with chapters on Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Women of the Renaissance. (ITL562, $16.00)

The Pursuit of Italy

The Pursuit of Italy


by David Gilmour

  • HISTORY
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 480 PAGES

From Cicero to Dante, Giuseppe Verdi and 20th-century Italian politicians, Gilmour traces the history of Italian life and culture. (ITA273, $17.00)

The Renaissance, A Short History

The Renaissance, A Short History


by Paul Johnson

  • HISTORY
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 196 PAGES

The history, background, literature, sculpture, paintings and architecture of the Renaissance in just over 200 lively, thought-provoking pages. (ITL774, $15.00)

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling


by Ross King

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 304 PAGES

Presented with flair and backed by a wealth of research, King's captivating chronicle of Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel tells the story of its conception and creation. (ITL464, $18.00)

Pompeii, The Day a City Died

Pompeii, The Day a City Died


by Robert Etienne

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 1992
  • PAPER
  • 215 PAGES

This indispensable pocket guide illustrates daily life in the city as revealed by its evocative frescoes, mosaics and treasures. (ITL01, $15.95)

D.H. Lawrence and Italy

D.H. Lawrence and Italy


by D.H. Lawrence

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 495 PAGES

This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence's three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence's memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places, his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia. (ITL62, $18.00)

Italian Days

Italian Days


by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 479 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Grizzuti Harrison writes with warmth and depth of her journey from Milan south to Calabria in this sprightly account of Italy and the Italians. (ITL02, $16.00)

La Bella Lingua

La Bella Lingua


by Dianne Hales

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 336 PAGES
  • NEW

Inebriated with the sounds of Italian, lovesick for its phrases and enamored of its earthy idioms, Hales, "a sensible woman of sturdy Polish stock," dives into the Italian of the piazza, literature, movies and streets in this charming memoir. (ITA26, $15.00)

On The Road with Francis of Assisi

On The Road with Francis of Assisi


by Linda Bird Francke

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Assisi wandered for 20 years, affording Newsweek editor Francke and her patient husband plenty to see and do in the piazzas, sanctuaries and chapels of Assisi, Siena, Bologna, Venice, Gubbio, Rome and other choice spots. (ITL647, $15.95)

The World of Venice

The World of Venice


by Jan Morris

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1995
  • PAPER
  • 315 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Morris displays her talent for research, telling anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited portrait of a beloved city, its history and inhabitants. If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite. (ITL12, $18.95)

Death at La Fenice

Death at La Fenice


by Donna Leon

  • MYSTERY
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 270 PAGES

The first of the tremendously good Guido Brunetti mysteries, all set in the author's beloved Venice, in which a famous conductor is found dead at the celebrated La Fenice theater. (ITL555, $14.99)

Italy, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Italy, A Traveler's Literary Companion


by Lawrence Venuti

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Not just a literary companion, this anthology is also a who's who of contemporary Italian writers that captures the spirit, history and allure of the country. (ITL466, $14.95)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.