Seasons in Basilicata: A Year in a Southern Italian Hill Village

David Yeadon - 2004
    What is intended as a brief sojourn turns into an intriguing residency in the ancient hill village of Aliano, where Carlo Levi, author of the world-renowned memoir Christ Stopped at Eboli, was imprisoned by Mussolini for anti-Fascist activities. As the Yeadons become immersed in Aliano's rich tapestry of people, traditions, and festivals, reveling in the rituals and rhythms of the grape and olive harvests, the culinary delights, and other peculiarities of place, they discover that much of the pagan strangeness that Carlo Levi and other notable authors revealed still lurks beneath the beguiling surface of Basilicata.

The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice

Polly Coles - 2013
    This is a city perilously under siege from tourism, but its people refuse to give it up—indeed they love it with a passion. This book is a fascinating window into the world of ordinary Venetians and the strange and unique place they call home.

Naked (in Italy): A Memoir About the Pitfalls of La Dolce Vita

M.E. Evans - 2019
     In her late twenties, M.E. Evans hops on a plane to Italy on a mission to change her life and that’s exactly what happens. Unfortunately, personal growth isn’t always easy. In Naked, bestselling author, M.E. Evans tackles the dysfunctional family narrative and travel memoir in a way that is refreshingly honest, painfully vulnerable, and wildly entertaining. If you’ve ever set foot in a foreign country or picked up a travel memoir you probably think you already know what Naked is about: a dreamy personal account of the life-altering beauty that is Italy. And sure, that’s in there, nestled somewhere between the profound grief, bruised ego, debilitating anxiety, chronic depression, vagina paintings, a boyfriend with billowing chest hair and a mother-in-law who forcibly irons your underwear. Evans’ dream of a magical life abroad is marred by forbidden love, the death of her younger brother, and a batshit crazy family, yet she skillfully merges tragedy and humor for a wild emotional journey exploring what it means to be human–flaws and all. Evans’ wit, compassion, and vulnerability make reading this book a rarely authentic and relatable experience. You’ll cry, you’ll cackle, and you’ll want Evans to be your best friend.

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Anthony Doerr - 2007
    From the award-winning author of The Shell Collector and About Grace comes an evocative memoir of the timeless beauty of Rome and the day-to-day wonderment of living, writing, and raising twin boys in a foreign city.

Bella Tuscany

Frances Mayes - 1999
    That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf. The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch. Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. Surges of energy, kaleidoscopic sunlight through the leaves, the soft breeze that makes me want to say the word "zephyr"--this mindless simplicity can be called happiness.Having spent her summers in Tuscany for the past several years, Frances Mayes relished the opportunity to experience the pleasures of primavera, an Italian spring. A sabbatical from teaching in San Francisco allowed her to return to Cortona--and her beloved house, Bramasole--just as the first green appeared on the rocky hillsides.Bella Tuscany, a companion volume to Under the Tuscan Sun, is her passionate and lyrical account of her continuing love affair with Italy. Now truly at home there, Mayes writes of her deepening connection to the land, her flourishing friendships with local people, the joys of art, food, and wine, and the rewards and occasional heartbreaks of her villa's ongoing restoration. It is also a memoir of a season of change, and of renewed possibility. As spring becomes summer she revives Bramasole's lush gardens, meets the challenges of learning a new language, tours regions from Sicily to the Veneto, and faces transitions in her family life.Filled with recipes from her Tuscan kitchen and written in the sensuous and evocative prose that has become her hallmark, Bella Tuscany is a celebration of the sweet life in Italy.

Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d'Orcia

Caroline Moorehead - 2000
    In Origo's case, she managed to add light and color to everything she touched and left for posterity a legacy of work, biography, autobiography, and literary criticism, that have become recognized as classics of their kind.She was born into a wealthy and long-established Long Island family, the Cuttings, but her talented and beloved father (who resembled, more than a little, a character right out of Henry James) died of consumption when she was only nine. She spent the following years traveling the world with her mother and an extensive entourage, settling finally at the Villa Medici at Fiesole and entering into the privileged world of wealthy Anglo-Florentine expatriates whose likes included the Berensons, Harold Acton, Janet Ross, and Edith Wharton, and whose petty bickering, and pettier politics, had a profound influence on how she spent her life.Her marriage to Antonio Origo, a wealthy landowner and sportsman, was as much a reaction to this insular world as it was a surprise to her family and friends. Together they purchased, and single-handedly revived, an extensive, arid valley in Tuscany called Val d'Orcia, rebuilding the farmsteads and the manor house. Although clearly sympathetic to Mussolini's land use policies, they sided firmly with the Allies during World War II, taking considerable risks in protecting children, sheltering partisans, and repatriating Allied prisoners-of-war to their units.Caroline Moorehead has made extensive use of unpublished letters, diaries, and papers to write what will surely be considered the definitive biography of this remarkable woman. She has limned a figure who was brave, industrious, and fiercely independent, but hardly saintly. What emerges is a portrait of one of the more intriguing, attractive, and intelligent women of the last century.

When in Rome: A Journal of Life in the Vatican City

Robert J. Hutchinson - 1998
    With his wife and three young sons, Robert Hutchinson moved to Rome shortly before his thirty-ninth birthday, intending to explore the Vatican in depth. He sought to capture "the personality of the place: the smells and the traffic, the rich delicacies of Roman food, the perils of the Italian language, the way Italian monsignori push their way to the front of the line, just like their lay countrymen." When in Rome is the extraordinary journal of his Roman sojourn.With playful good humor, Hutchinson introduces the varied and colorful individuals who live and work in the Vatican. In the process, he explores the mysterious orders of medieval knights, some dating back to the First Crusade, which still play a vital role in the Vatican; explains how bumbling Vatican archaeologists found, and then lost, the bones of St. Peter; probes the sex lives of the popes, from the "pornocracy" of Sergius III to the incestuous orgies of Rodrigo Borgia; experiences high fashion in the Holy See, including a visit to the pope's personal tailor; encounters the weird relics of Catholicism, such as the mummified body of St. Pius X and a museum made entirely out of human bones; recounts the true story behind the True Cross, now kept in a run-down church near the Colosseum; and much, much more.Humorous, irreverent, but ultimately respectful, When in Rome does for the Vatican what A Year in Provence did for the French countryside, in an unforgettable and unprecedented eyewitness account of one of the most fascinating places on Earth.

Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy

Helene Stapinski - 2017
    In Southern Italy, she was a loose woman who had murdered someone. Immigrating to America with three children, she lost one along the way. Helene's youthful obsession with Vita deepened as she grew up, eventually propelling the journalist to Italy, where, with her own children in tow, she pursued the story, determined to set the record straight. Finding answers would take Helene ten years and numerous trips to Basilicata, the rural "instep" of Italy's boot--a mountainous land rife with criminals, superstitions, old-world customs, and desperate poverty. Though false leads sent her down blind alleys, Helene's dogged search, aided by a few lucky--even miraculous--breaks and a group of colorful local characters, led her to the truth. Yes, the family tales she'd heard were true: there had been a murder in Helene's family, a killing that roiled 1870s Italy. But the identities of the killer and victim weren't who she thought they were. In revisiting events that happened more than a century before, Helene came to another stunning realization--she wasn't who she thought she was, either. Weaving Helene's own story of discovery with the tragic tale of Vita's life, Murder in Matera is a literary whodunit and a moving tale of self-discovery that brings into focus a long ago tragedy in a little-known region remarkable for its stunning sunny beauty and dark buried secrets.Helene Stapinski goes deep into the heart of Italy to unravel a century-old family mystery in this spellbinding memoir that blends the suspenseful twists of Making a Murderer and the emotional insight of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels.Weaving Helene’s own story of discovery with the tragic tale of Vita’s life, Murder in Matera is a literary whodunit and a moving tale of self-discovery that brings into focus a long ago tragedy in a little-known region remarkable for its stunning sunny beauty and dark buried secrets.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure

Marlena de Blasi - 2004
    Now they were taking another audacious leap, unstitching their ties with exquisite Venice to live in a roughly renovated stable in Tuscany.Once again, it was love at first sight. Love for the timeless countryside and the ancient village of San Casciano dei Bagni, for the local vintage and the magnificent cooking, for the Tuscan sky and the friendly church bells. Love especially for old Barlozzo, the village mago, who escorts the newcomers to Tuscany’s seasonal festivals; gives them roasted country bread drizzled with just-pressed olive oil; invites them to gather chestnuts, harvest grapes, hunt truffles; and teaches them to caress the simple pleasures of each precious day. It’s Barlozzo who guides them across the minefields of village history and into the warm and fiercely beating heart of love itself. A Thousand Days in Tuscany is set in one of the most beautiful places on earth–and tucked into its fragrant corners are luscious recipes (including one for the only true bruschetta) directly from the author’s private collection.

Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House

Sally Gable - 2005
    What she found and learned to love was a new life in a beautiful and celebrated Palladian villa in the countryside outside Venice. In Palladian Days, she takes us with her on a journey of discovery and transformation as she and her husband, Carl, become the bemused owners of Villa Cornaro, built in 1552 by the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio called by Town & Country one of the ten most influential buildings in the world.Sally Gable writes lovingly of the villa as she and Carl settle in and slowly uncover its history, the lives of its former inhabitants, and its architectural pleasures. She tells of her early days there, learning to speak Italian with the help of her engaging new neighbors in the tiny town that surrounds the villa, Piombino Dese, a place both traditional and busily modern with its old-fashioned street markets and its burgeoning economy.She writes with beguiling humor about learning to take care of a Renaissance palace with its 104 frescoes and 44 pairs of shutters (all of which have to be opened and closed daily). She tells of baffling encounters with the soprintendente di belle arti, who must give permission for even the smallest repair to the Italian national treasure Sally and Carl call home. And she describes the life she and her husband create for the villa itself, allowing it to be used for concerts, ballet performances, even as a movie set.In Palladian Days, we enter with Sally and Carl into their engrossing adventure, following along as they are woven ever more deeply into the fabric of small-town Italy and into its larger national history. Their story will delight travelers and would-be travelers; all who are fascinated by architecture, by art, by the powerful essence of place—and, especially, house-dreamers everywhere.

Return to Glow : A Pilgrimage of Transformation in Italy

Chandi Wyant - 2017
    Determined to embrace life by following her heart, she sets out on Italy’s historic pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, to walk for forty days to Rome. Weakened by her recent illness, she walks over the Apennines, through the valleys of Tuscany, and beside busy highways on her 425-kilometer trek equipped with a nineteen-pound pack, two journals, and three pens. Return to Glow chronicles this journey that is both profoundly spiritual and ruggedly adventuresome. As Chandi traverses this ancient pilgrim’s route, she rediscovers awe in the splendor of the Italian countryside and finds sustenance and comfort from surprising sources. Drawing on her profession as a college history instructor, she gracefully weaves in relevant anecdotes, melding past and present in this odyssey toward her soul. This delightful, transporting tale awakens the senses while inviting readers to discover their own inner glow by letting go of fixed expectations, choosing courage over comfort, and following their heart. "Chandi's search for herself is both ubiquitous and yet singular; her unique voice and honest self-examination speak to our shared humanity as we question our mistakes and seek to find passion, love and fulfillment on our Hero's Journey through life." "Her thoughtful reflection on her short-comings reveals a strength of mind and heart, which really drew me in to her experience. Her internal struggles are very relatable, and she gracefully avoids becoming a victim of her circumstances. I love this book and the lessons it contains." "Her writing style drew me in immediately, placing me beside her, as if I were there. I was affected deeply by her determination and courage to continue..." "If you loved Cheryl Strayed's Wild you will love this book. Perhaps more. If you have dreamed of adventure and transformation read this and be inspired."

The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City

Amanda Ruggeri - 2012
    Written by Amanda Ruggeri, Rome resident, travel journalist, and the blogger behind, it's full of advice to help you enjoy every aspect of your trip, including tips like:-how to pick an authentic Roman restaurant at a glance-budget accommodation options you may not have considered-how to skip the lines at the Colosseum and the Vatican-how to protect yourself from pickpocketing in Rome-which Roman dishes you have to try-where to find drinking water, and bathrooms, while out and about-how to navigate Rome's public transportation system-the best neighborhoods in Rome for shopping...and much more!Armed with these tips, both first-time and frequent visitors to Rome will come away feeling like true Rome insiders!

A Day in Tuscany: More Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide

Dario Castagno - 2007
    Readers who enjoyed Too Much Tuscan Sun will welcome this second book, which includes even more episodes from the author’s life growing up as a Chiantigiano.

An Italian Affair

Laura Fraser - 2001
    There, on the island of Ischia, she meets M., an aesthetics professor from Paris with an oversized love of life. What they both assume will be a casual vacation tryst turns into a passionate, transatlantic love affair, as they rendezvous in London, Marrakech, Milan, the Aeolian Islands, and San Francisco. Each encounter is a delirious immersion into place (sumptuous food and wine, dazzling scenery, lush gardens, and vibrant streetscapes) and into each other. And with each experience, Laura brings home not only a lasting sense of pleasure, but a more fully recovered sense of her emotional and sexual self. Written with an observant eye, an open mind, and a delightful sense of humor, An Italian Affair has the irresistible honesty of a story told from and about the heart.

The Sportsman

Dhani Jones - 2011
    Just a few years ago, however, Dhani thought his playing days were over. Cut by the Eagles and the Saints, he was at a professional crossroads. When the Bengals called, though, he was more than ready and in the best shape of his life. And for that, he credits his off-season.   The Sportsman follows Dhani’s discovery that the parts of his life that, to many, seemed to be distractions— including an off-season TV show that sent him around the world to learn and compete in other sports—actually served to cross-train him in ways he’d never imagined, enabling him to become more grounded, globally aware, and, most surprisingly, a much better football player. Part travelogue, part workout guide, part Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Sportsman is an invigorating account of Dhani’s global sporting adventures and the lessons he has learned along the way. From dragon boat racing in Singapore to carrying 300-pound rocks in Iceland to biking in Italy, Dhani’s adventures taught him to be tougher, smarter, and stronger than ever. The Sportsman is a reminder that by connecting to the world through its people and customs and the spirit of competition, we empower ourselves in ways that can surpass our craziest expectations.