Living in Rome, surrounded every day by the extraodinary history and culture of the city, we've become hungry to learn everything about it, which has made us avid readers. We have a very low opinion of commercial travel guides, which are rarely written by the people who live here, but by one or more journalists sent in take a quick look around, check off points from a list and report back. The books we recommend are different. On these pages, we'll share some of our favorite books with you, books will enhance your Italian experience, whether you're in Rome now or planning a visit in the future. We'd love it if you'd share your favorites with us, too. We'll put your reading list on this page, along with your name and photo, if you send us a message at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rome, the Second Time Around by Dianne Bennett and William Graebner
Most guidebooks are outdated by the time they reach the stores, but this one is different. Beautifully written, with an enthusiasm for the Eternal City that warms every page, it takes readers far off the beaten path, into neighborhoods where tourists seldom tread. The eclectic selection of itineraries includes an exploration of Rome's Fascist architecture, its remaining aqueducts, and the middle-class neighborhoods of Nomentana and Pineto. The authors have included sidebars on such random topics as reading the inscriptions on momuments, ordering coffee, a brief history of the Jews in Rome and a glossary of Italian real estate terms.
Paperback, pub. Curious Traveler Press, 244 pp. 2009
Rome, Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert
This is Rome 101, it's a complete history of the country from the earliest days to World War II: It's well-researched, scholarly and even insightful, but it's never academic. Pure pleasure, it reads like a novel. If you only read one book on Rome, read this one. It will enhance your enjoyment of the city immeasureably. You won't just be looking at building and ruins, you'll be seeing the stories that Hibbert tells.
Paperback, pub. Penguin, 400 pp. 1987
The Families Who Made Rome: A History and Guide by Anthony Majanlahti
Visiting or living in Rome, you'll hear and see the same names over and over again: Borghese, Chigi, de Medici, Farnese. This book tells you the stories of the great families who built the city, the grand palazzi and villa, the family cardinals and popes, the intrigues, the intermarriage, the scandals and conflicts and wars. Best of all, he includes walking tours so that you can follow the histories of the great families through their legacies. Paperback. Pub. Pimlico, 432 pp. 2006
A Literary Companion to Rome by John Varriano
Rome has inspired writers and artists since the days of Pliny and Cato. Varriano organizes ten terrific walking tours of the city, and gives us literary quotes, so we can compare our own reactions with those of writers like Gore Vidal, Eveyln Waugh, Edith Wharton, John Updike and a host of others. Paperback, pub. John Murray, 298 pp 1992
A Traveller in Rome by H.V. Morton
One of the great classics of the traveling writing genre, first published in 1957. Morton gives a full and rich, highly readable background for all of Rome's top attractions and many of it's charms, from the cats of Trajan's market to the joys of St. Peter's in the early morning. Paperback, pub. Methuen, 430 pp. 1957
Italian Journey, 1786-1788 by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The great Goethe is a young man on an adventure and amazingly chatty in this book, compiled from a series of letters home. He falls in love with Rome and all of Italy, of course, and gives a running update of his experiences, cultural, artistic and social. An easy and fascinating read.
Paperback, pub. Penguin Classics, 512 pp
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