In the past, I have done a round-up of Italy-related books to coincide with the end-of-year book-buying season. Of course, the book-buying season is year-round — especially during these days when we can only travel around Italy from our armchairs.
So this year, I am going to start my list earlier.
Below is a selection of books that I think fellow Italophiles will love. All of these books are for the current year, many available through pre-order if they are not already published.
For more book ideas, see my book recommendations for 2020, my list of coffee table books, and the book and literary travel category. As I cannot write about every cool book that I find, I have created some handy lists here and here.
Also, stay tuned, as I will be updating this page periodically with new releases.
The Bookseller of Florence
My interest in Italy blossomed about the same time that Ross King began writing books about its artistic history. I devoured Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. So I am eager to read his latest deep dive into the world of illuminated manuscripts.
Princes of the Renaissance
If you, like me, are fresh off a binge of the Netflix series on The Medici, this may be an ideal book for you. “Princes of the Renaissance” looks at the “hidden power behind an artistic revolution” that ranged from Florence to Urbino to other seats of power. Written by Mary Hollingsworth, who also wrote a well-regarded, “warts-and-all” biography of The Family Medici, this book will help you understand the connections between the powerful clans of 15th-century Italy and how they shaped the history of art.
As time marches on and veterans pass away, the stories of World War II start to fade from memory. This beautifully illustrated book, appropriate for elementary school children, hopes to inspire and educate a new generation of readers as it tells the story of Italian cyclist and Italian Resistance hero Gino Bartali.
Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football
I love Italian football. But I also know that it is rotten, no thanks to the ultras, those die-hard fans whose racism and criminality mar the sport. Written by Parma-based English football writer Tobias Jones, “Ultra” is the paperback release of the 2020 winner of the Telegraph’s Sports Book Awards.
Cookbooks, Food & Wine
The Italian Deli Cookbook
I have been excited about this book ever since I spotted its retro cover. Written by Theo Randall, one of Britain’s best chefs of Italian cuisine, the Italian Deli Cookbook is a collection of about 100 family recipes from the Italian diaspora from Sydney to Brooklyn. Its genius is that it uses common deli ingredients — cured meats, jarred vegetables, smoked fish, vinegars, olives, and cheese — to create meals that are simple but elevated.
The New Cucina Italiana
From Laura Lazzaroni, the Editor-in-Chief of the Italian version of Food & Wine, comes this beautiful cookbook that highlights the Italian cuisine of today. The book “covers 32 chefs and restaurateurs who are reinterpreting the ‘greatest hits’ of Italian dining,” ranging from pop-ups to pizzerie to the finest restaurants.
Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence
This is an updated version of Emiko Davies’ popular first cookbook on the food of Florence. The 2021 book features new recipes, photos, and itineraries for the neighborhoods of Florence and nearby towns.
Coffee Table Books
Sicily: The Wine Route
Take a visual journey through the vineyards of Sicily. Get close to the volcanic soil and follow your guide into island coves and through rustic farmhouses as you learn more about the wines and wineries on the largest island in the Mediterranean. (This title is not set to come out until October 2021. In the meantime, read up on the New Wines of Mt. Etna.)
The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces
The pieces in this landmark, privately-owned collection were last published in a 19th-century catalog and had not been seen by the public since the 1940s. This volume, a companion guide to the Torlonia Marbles exhibition in Rome, contains images of and essays about these classical sculptures. As the exhibit has been interrupted several times because of the pandemic, this book is the surest way to get a look at the marbles.
Featured photo of Biblioteca Palatina in Parma, which is the Italian Capital of Culture for 2021. Photo © Beata Schwendimann