Armchair Traveling Book Lists with - Italy

As always, the first place I always turn for a book about a specific city, regardless of the age of the intended reader, is Miroslav Sasek and his This Is... series of picture books written in the 1950s and 1960s. This is Rome takes the reader on a child's eye view of Rome. I love his crisp, colorful illustrations and the way he captures the movement and action of any city.


Both Erica and I are big fans of Timothy Egan's Dodsworth books, set (so far) in New York, Paris, Rome and London. For my review of all four books, click here. For Erica's take, click here.


Olivia goes to Venice
Tommaso and the Missing Line
Michelangelo's Surprise
The Hinky Pink (Florence, fairy tale) 
Guido's Gondola 

Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer
Leonardo and the Flying Boy
The King of Capri
The Year I Didn't Go to School by Giselle Potter. A charming, autobiographical picture book about her family's traveling puppet troupe.
Anno's Italy an amazingly detailed, wordless picture book that may be out of print...

and some Non-Fiction

Marco Polo: History's Great Adventurer

The Second Mrs Giaconda by EL Konigsburg. I love this slim novel about the woman who might have been the real Mona Lisa.
Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli. I love this book! Set in 14th century Venice when the only option for a girl was marriage or a nunnery when she came of age. A large part of the story involves the Jewish ghetto in Venice.
Red Sails Over Capri by Ann Weil. This book, although a Newbery Honor in 1953, this book is out of print. I plan to read and review it this summer!
The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily a fabulous classic brought back to life by The New York Review of Books. I own it, but haven't read it. Another one for the summer reading list.
The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence. A fantastic series set in Ancient Rome that was made into a tv show by the BBC.
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. Set in contemporary Venice, this is a great book if you want to get a feel for the city. The movie is very well done, too.
Stravaganza This is a six book series for teens set in Talia, a parallel-dimension of Italy in the 16th century. Each book takes place in a different Italian city. My daughter started reading these before our six week visit to Italy in 2008 and we had a fun time looking for bookstores selling them (in English) as we traveled around the country.
On Etruscan Time a time traveling tale that begins at an archaeological dig in Italy.

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