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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Treasures of Italy: A Family Adventure

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 EXITL885. Buy these 5 items as a set for $84 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)

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)

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)

Eyewitness Guide Family Italy

Eyewitness Guide Family Italy

by Eyewitness Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 424 PAGES
  • FAMILY

A compact illustrated guide in the popular series, with dozens of excellent local maps and a kid friendly focus, including child-friendly sleeping and eating options and age range suitability. Intended for parents with kids ages four to twelve. (ITA296, $25.00)

Italy Map

Italy Map

by Borch Maps

  • 2011
  • MAP
  • BEST SELLER

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)

 
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)

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)

Eating Italy

Eating Italy


by Jeff Michaud

  • FOOD
  • 2013
  • HARD COVER
  • 304 PAGES

American head chef Jeff Michaud takes us along on his three-year culinary journey into the world of Italian cuisine. From Paladina to Alba, Venice to Florence and everywhere in between, he dedicates himself to perfecting the "stubborn simplicity" of the country's gastronomic delights. (ITA417, $35.00)

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)

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco


by Iain Fenlon

  • HISTORY
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 224 PAGES

Fenlon reveals the dynamic, colorful, and noisy history of this grand square at the heart of Venetian civic life in this sophisticated pocket guide. (ITA113, $14.95)

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)

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)

Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History

Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History


by Ada Gabucci

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

This lively, illustrated survey of Ancient Rome's monuments, history and art is a terrific introduction. (ITL419, $19.95)

Brunelleschi's Dome, How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

Brunelleschi's Dome, How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture


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)

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)

The Colosseum

The Colosseum


by Keith Hopkins | Mary Beard

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 224 PAGES

This engaging overview of the history of the Colosseum deconstructs Hollywood-perpetrated misconceptions of gladiator-eating lions, Nero fiddling and other myths. (ITL654, $16.00)

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)

Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life

Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life


by Frances Mayes

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Twenty years later, Mayes is still besotted by Italy -- her house, the tumbling geraniums, the people and the food -- all lovingly documented in her best memoir yet. With interludes in Portofino, Assisi and Rome and a focus on Renaissance master artist Luca Signorelli. (ITA124, $15.00)

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)

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 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)

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.