From the countryside to the cities, Italy is the set for countless stories: here are 10 books set in Italy that will make you dream of being there. 

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To prepare for a trip, many people buy destination guides to create their own roadmap and not miss the most beautiful things to see and do.

Some travellers, however, prefer to read books set in the place they are going to visit, because the stories not only describe magnificent places, but also the emotions they arouse. If you belong to this category of travellers, then this list of 10 books set in Italy is just for you.

10 books set in Italy that will make you dream of being there

10 books set in Italy that will make you dream of being there

Juliet's balcony in Verona

If Italy has become the destination of millions of travellers every year, some credit is also due to the Bard: William Shakespeare, in fact, fascinated the Anglo-Saxon world with stories set in the Italian peninsula, so much so that it was included in the destinations of the Grand Tour, the journey that young aristocrats undertook to perfect their knowledge.

Many other authors, both Italian and foreign, have taken Shakespeare's example by writing books set in Italy, some of which have become so famous that they have landed on the big screen (think of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons), in films that give shape to descriptions of wonderful places as the backdrop for unforgettable stories.

We at Visit Italy have chosen 10 of the most famous books, sure that between their pages you can dream of your next destination in Italy.

This is the book for mountain and trekking lovers. Paolo Cognetti's The Eight Mountains, first a book and then a film, is about the love for the mountains that deeply unites the two protagonists, Pietro and Bruno, one a city boy and the other a native of the small village of Grana, in the middle of the mountains. Although the author does not specify, it is the Aosta Valley that provides the backdrop to the story: trails, glaciers, valleys and breathtaking views are what awaits you if you decide to immerse yourself in Cognetti's pages.

A book that traces the history of this friendship from the 1980s to the present day, which tells of people and places such as Val d'Ayas, Monte Rosa, Lake Blu, the Gnifetti and Mezzalama refuges, and if even the village of Grana does not exist, you can find it in the village of Graines.
To enjoy the same breathtaking atmospheres all you need are good shoes and the desire to walk, but for those who prefer to take it easy, you can always take advantage of the Skyway Monte Bianco, the cable car that takes you to the roof of Europe, where you can read your book in the highest library in Europe.

Discover the Alps by cable car

A beautiful love story between a young American ambulance driver and a British nurse under arms: this is the story you will find in Hemingway's Farewell to Arms, along with all the places the writer actually visited during the First World War, when he was an ambulance driver for the Italian army.

As in other novels, Hemingway uses the novel to tell about love, war and the beautiful places he visited during his life. In Farewell to Arms, the author recounts the protagonists' journey from Friuli Venezia Giulia with a daring escape on the currents of the river Tagliamento, then through Milan, Lake Maggiore and finally into Switzerland. On Lake Maggiore, in fact, the writer spent his convalescence after being struck by shrapnel during an attack, precisely at the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees in Stresa. Here he returned in 1948 and left written in the signature book that he was 'An old client'.

Discover Lake Maggiore treasures

8. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

10 books set in Italy: The Name of the Rose

The Sacra di San Michele that inspired Umberto Eco

If you are a fan of novels set in medieval times and combining the sacred and profane with a touch of mystery, you cannot miss The Name of the Rose.
Listed among Le Monde's 'The 100 Books of the Century,' it is surely a timeless classic, masterfully narrated by Umberto Eco. The story is set in 1327 inside a Benedictine monastery where the events of the two protagonist monks take place, paced by the rhythms of religious life.

To relive this mystical atmosphere, all you have to do is go to the Sacra di San Michele a few kilometers from Turin, which is the abbey that inspired Eco and in which the film of the same name starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater was filmed. You'll be amazed at the sight of this old monastery that seems to grow from the rock of the mountain on which it sits: the atmosphere there is almost magical and the view of the valley below will leave you breathless.

Visit the Sacra with the Torino+Piemonte Card

7. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

10 books set in Italy: Death at La Fenice

La Fenice Theatre in Venice

With bodies discovered in canals, piazzas and even La Fenice opera house, the Venice of Commissario Guido Brunetti has an astonishingly high rate of intriguing murders. With Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon begins this series of novels set in the Serenissima, where she has lived for twenty years. In the footsteps of Commissario Brunetti, you will discover a less touristy and more local Venice.

Her debut as a crime fiction writer began as a joke: talking in a dressing room in Venice's opera-house La Fenice after a performance, Donna and a singer friend were vilifying a particular German conductor. From the thought "why don't we kill him?" and discussion of when, where and how, the idea for Death at La Fenice took shape.

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André Aciman takes you amidst the scents, flavours and loves of a summer on the Ligurian Riviera, one of those summers that mark life forever. Call Me by Your Name recounts the summer of seventeen-year-old Elio and his holidays in the family's splendid villa in western Liguria.

The book is set on the coast, close to the French border, and the shimmering Ligurian Sea is almost a character in itself: you can almost feel the tingle of warm gravel on your legs as the young protagonists cycle to sunny sandy coves. An important setting is 'Monet's Berm', an isolated cliff ledge that Elio claims is the point from which the Impressionist painted his View of Bordighera.

5. Room with a View by Edward Morgan Forster

10 books set in Italy: Room with a View

A trip can change the way you see and experience life, and you're probably thinking about that as you prepare for your trip to Italy. Surely this is what Edward Morgan Forster had in mind when he wrote his Room with a View: set in the 19th and 20th centuries, the novel tells the story of Lucy and George, who meet in beautiful Florence.

Between these pages you can see, through the enchantment of the carefree protagonist, all the beauty of the Tuscan capital, admiring the Basilica of Santa Croce, Piazza della Signoria and the panorama from the spectacular hills of Fiesole. And the room with a view? Well, it really existed, and it was number 22 at the Pensione Quisisana e Ponte Vecchio, located at number 4 Lungarno Archibusieri. Unfortunately this ancient building no longer exists, but in its place is now the Hotel degli Orafi and the 'room with a view' - named after the famous film - is on the fourth and penultimate floor of the building, at number 414.

Discover Florence with a walking tour

4. 10 books set in Italy: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani

10 books set in Italy: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Here is a book that will introduce you to a city off the classic tourist routes: Ferrara, a small treasure of Emilia-Romagna, rich in charm and history, is the splendid backdrop for the story narrated by Giorgio Bassani in The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. In this book, the events leading up to the Second World War are recounted through the story of the Finzi-Contini family, members of the wealthy Ferrarese bourgeoisie and the city's Jewish community at the turn of the Fascist period.

The story the novel tells is strongly inspired by Ferrara, and Bassani describes many places such as the Castello Estense, the Palazzo dei Diamanti, the Mura degli Angeli, the Corso Ercole I D'Este and, above all, Via delle Erbe, in the northern quarter of the city that inspired the Finzi-Continis literary garden.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

10 books set in Italy: Angels and Demons

Navona Square, Rome

We certainly couldn't exclude Rome from this list! There are many novels set in the Eternal City, but Dan Brown 's Angels and Demons is the exact mix of history, art and mystery, with a story that meanders through some of Rome's most magical places.

Following in the footsteps of iconology scholar Professor Robert Langdon, you will go from the Pantheon to the basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, from the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria to Piazza Navona, passing by St Peter's and Castel Sant'Angelo. The scenery painted by Brown will take you through the air of intrigue, mystery and revelation.

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2. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

10 books set in Italy: My Brilliant Friend

View from Caracciolo, Naples

Elena Ferrante takes you to the outskirts of Naples, to meet Lenù and Lila and their story that takes place between the 1950s and 1960s. This saga, of which My Brilliant Friend is the first novel, is about friendship, choices, and gender, but above all it shows an authentic Naples, off the beaten track, steeped in dialect and the scent of the sea.

It will be easy to find the places where My Brilliant Friend takes place: let us start from the district where the story takes place, the Luzzatti district, near the Gianturco metro station. Here you can find many places described by Ferrante, first and foremost the tunnel leading to the sea. Other cardinal points of the story are Corso Umberto I, Piazza dei Martiri in the Chiaia district, and Via Caracciolo, the splendid seafront from which Lenù admired Vesuvius. An excellent book to explore a different Naples.

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The scents and aromas of Sicily spring from the pages of Stefania Auci's I Leoni di Sicilia, which tells the story of the Florio family, who built an entrepreneurial empire at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Set in Palermo, the saga begins with the family's arrival in the Sicilian capital to open an aromateria, or spice and natural remedies store. Soon, the resourcefulness of brothers Ignazio and Paolo and their descendants will give rise to an increasingly large and profitable business, including textiles, sulfur, wines and groceries.

Great protagonists of the novel, which has now become a TV series, are the palaces of PalermoPalazzo delle Aquile in Piazza Pretoria, the seat at the time of the Sicilian aristocracy, and Palazzo Mirto, a Baroque blaze emblematic of the wealthy bourgeoisie of the late 19th century in which they were. You also cannot miss the 4 canti, Palermo's historic junction, a symbol of a nobility now in decline. If you happen to watch the TV series, you may recognize Cefalù and the Salt Pans and the Tonnara of Favignana, a place that really was purchased in 1874 by Ignazio Florio as a tuna canning plant.

Visit Favignana and its cave with a boat tour

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