Monday, July 5, 2010

Books by Theme: Armchair Travel to Italy

Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary's saying serves for me
(When fortune’s malice
Lost her Calais):
"Open my heart, and you will see
Graved inside of it 'Italy.'"

~ Robert Browning (1812–1889), English poet

The City of Falling Angels 
by John Berendt

John Berendt, bestselling author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, leaves steamy Savannah, Georgia, and her eccentrics, secrets, scandals, and famous murder behind, and travels to watery Venice, of eccentrics, secrets, scandals, and a possible arson! The Fenice Opera House burned just days before the author's arrival, and he examines the possibility that the fire was intentional--but this book is less an investigation and more "an intimate portrait of a city" (Library Journal). Readers with a love for Venice will be drawn to the intriguing mix of fascinating people, politics, and city lore found in this engaging book.

The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria 
by Marlena de Blasi

Transplanted American chef and writer Marlena de Blasi and her Italian husband move from their home in Tuscany to Orvieto, the largest city in Umbria. There they find the perfect home, which turns out to be part of a 15th-century palazzo in dire need of restoration. While the workmen repair their new place, the couple hang out with the locals and eat magnificent meals. Fans of food memoirs will savor this one--recipes are included and Kirkus Reviews calls the book "delicious." If you want to know more about de Blasi's Italian adventures, pick up her earlier books, A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany.

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

Imagine moving to a foreign country for a year...with 6-month-old twin boys in tow. That's just what novelist Anthony Doerr and his wife did after Doerr won the Rome award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In Four Seasons in Rome, first-time parent Doerr writes eloquently of life with small children, sleepless nights, meeting Romans, the death of John Paul II, and the multitude of things to see and do in the Eternal City. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews says this memoir is "delightful, funny and full of memorable scenes." If you're a new parent, you will find it especially entertaining (if you have time to read, that is!).

Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month is Enchanted 
by Annie Hawes

In 1983, two British sisters obtained temporary positions grafting roses in the sun-drenched Italian village of Diano San Pietro to get away from the cold London winter. Diano San Pietro, full of olive trees and olive growers, sits just two miles away from the Italian Rivera but is a world apart--and it's a place that the British women soon adore. The traditional town charms them with its delicious food and old-fashioned locals, and they buy an old farmhouse, fix it up, practice their Italian--and, years later, the author still lives there. Have a napkin handy when you pick this one up--Publishers Weekly says "this blithe account will have gastronomes and travelers drooling."

~All summaries from NextReads~

~ For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~


Zibilee said...

I haven't read much about Italy, but it sounds like a great reading destination! I love to read about foreign places, and have so far focused a lot on India and England, so reading about Italy would be a great departure for me. Thanks for the great list of books!

Ryan said...

I have the City of Falling Angels waiting to be read. One of these days.

Lisa said...

I didn't love The City of Fallen Angels as much as I did Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil but it's descriptions of Venice and it's history were fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Excellent choices, Amanda. Love John Berendt's book and Marlena writes so sumptuously about Italy that I hunger for it every time I read one of her books.

JaneGS said...

I absolutely loved City of Falling Angels--it was terrific and I plan on rereading it again before long...hopefully, as a prep for a trip to Venice! Well worth reading--I love Berendt's approach to the city and it's people and history and culture.

Marie Cloutier said...

These all look like a lot of fun. I've never been to Italy but I'd love to someday!

Alyce said...

I love travel books and travel memoirs! I have added the Rome book to my wish list, and will keep in mind The City of Falling Angels too. I just read The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah while on vacation, and it was a fantastic book along the same lines as these, but about Morocco.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

These reads look wonderful! I am drooling over several of them!

Veens said...

Just the other day my sis and em were thinking of all the places we wanted to go "someday" and Italy was high on the list after Egypt of course!

Can u believe I have heard of non of these books!!!! I wish I can get these here!

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