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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Living in 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 EXITL377. Buy these 5 items as a set for $110 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
With free shipping on anything else you order.

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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)

Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art

Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art

by A. Richard Turner

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 176 PAGES

A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations. (ITL50, $46.80)

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall

by Christopher Hibbert

  • HISTORY
  • 1982
  • PAPER
  • 364 PAGES

A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence. (ITL135, $16.99)

Eyewitness Guide Florence & Tuscany

Eyewitness Guide Florence & Tuscany

by Eyewitness Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 336 PAGES

Superbly illustrated, this compact guide shows the neighborhoods, museums, shops and sites of Florence and surroundings in full color. (ITL46, $25.00)

Florence Map

Florence Map

by Borch Maps

  • 2006
  • MAP

A detailed, plastic-covered city map of Florence at a scale of 1:7,000. (ITL59, $8.95)

 
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)

Eyewitness Top Ten Venice

Eyewitness Top Ten Venice


by Gillian Price

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • FLEXI-BOUND
  • 160 PAGES

A compact, illustrated guide in the popular series, featuring favorite attractions in Venice. (ITA18, $14.00)

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)

The Food Lover's Guide to Florence, With Culinary Excursions in Tuscany

The Food Lover's Guide to Florence, With Culinary Excursions in Tuscany


by Emily Wise Miller

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 219 PAGES

Miller polled neighbors, friends, cooks and ordinary folk for this delectable guide to 125 eateries, organized by neighborhood. (ITL841, $14.99)

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas


by Roger Crowley

  • HISTORY
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

Roger 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)

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

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)

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)

Siena, City of the Virgin

Siena, City of the Virgin


by Titus Burckhardt

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

Burckhardt's classic portrait includes dozens of illustrations, maps and photographs of architecture and early Renaissance art of Siena. (ITL974, $22.95)

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)

Architecture of the Renaissance, From Brunelleschi to Palladio

Architecture of the Renaissance, From Brunelleschi to Palladio


by Bertrand Jestaz

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 160 PAGES

Originating in Florence, the flowering of architecture in 15th-century Italy revolutionized the look of European cities and the mindsets of their citizens. This lavishly illustrated pocket book presents the people, the time and its monuments in hundreds of color photographs and engravings. (ITL52, $15.95)

Brunelleschi's Dome

Brunelleschi's Dome


by Ross King

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 192 PAGES

The story of the design and construction of the dome in the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a tale rife with politics, cut-throat competition and mighty inspiration. (ITL410, $16.00)

Da Vinci's Ghost, Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image

Da Vinci's Ghost, Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image


by Toby Lester

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 275 PAGES

Lester takes on the genesis of Leonardo da Vinci's iconic Vitruvian Man as his point of departure for this exhilarating meditation on da Vinci and his time. (ITA346, $16.00)

The Art of the Renaissance

The Art of the Renaissance


by Peter Murray

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 1992
  • PAPER
  • 286 PAGES

A classic, illustrated survey of the world of the Renaissance and its art. With chapters on Florence and its artists, the Netherlands, early illustrated books and many individual artists. (ITL14, $18.95)

Catherine De Medici, Renaissance Queen of France

Catherine De Medici, Renaissance Queen of France


by Leonie Frieda

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 440 PAGES

Frieda reclaims the story of this much maligned queen to reveal a skilled ruler battling extraordinary political and personal odds in this vivid, meticulously researched portrait of the woman and Renaissance Europe. (FRN875, $15.99)

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)

Leonardo da Vinci, The Mind of the Renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci, The Mind of the Renaissance


by Alessandro Vezzosi

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 160 PAGES
  • CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

With chapters on the Florence of the Medici, Milan in the time of Sforza, Rome and Amboise, this colorful pocket encyclopedia illustrates and documents the life and work of Leonardo and of Renaissance Italy. (ITL77, $15.00)

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)

A Room with a View

A Room with a View


by E.M. Forster

  • LITERATURE
  • 1989
  • PAPER
  • 248 PAGES

E.M. Forster's classic tale of love among the middle classes, set largely in Florence. (ITL142, $9.95)

The Agony and the Ecstasy, A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

The Agony and the Ecstasy, A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo


by Irving Stone

  • LITERATURE
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 776 PAGES

An overheated, page-turning fictionalized account of the life of master painter and sculptor Michelangelo -- and a good introduction to Renaissance Florence and Rome. (ITL150, $17.00)

The Birth of Venus, A Novel

The Birth of Venus, A Novel


by Sarah Dunant

  • LITERATURE
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 397 PAGES

A rich novel of art, passion and patronage, memorably set in late 15th-century Florence and prominently featuring the famously pious reformer Savonarola. (ITL532, $15.00)

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.