Miscellaneous books on Italy

Here you may find essays, cookbooks, stories or poems on Italy or Italians. Any thing that will help bring the flavor of Italy alive.

A Ghost in Trieste

Joseph Cary Daedalus Books

Trieste's cultural and historical riches, its geographical splendor of hills and sea, and its mysterious presence unfold in a series of stories, monologues and literary juxtapositions that reveal the city's charms as well as its seductive hold on the writer's imagination. Literary and immediate impressions alike are elaborated in paintings and maps, and in handsome line drawings by Nicholas Read. Part travel diary, part guidebook, part literary history, A Ghost in Trieste is a wonderful introduction to what Cary calls the "city made of books."

Treasure of Naples

Giuseppe Marotta (Dutton, 1949).

Ask any Italian to name a book set in Naples and this one will most likely come to mind: a collection of short stories - sometimes witty, sometimes poignant - about what the author calls this "mad and mythological and adorable city." The basis for the film Gold of Naples, it makes a fantastic travel companion.

Torregreca, Life, Death, Miracles

Ann Cornelison (Little, Brown & Co., 1969).

An altogether different type of experience, the painful, insightful memoirs of an American woman who lived in an impoverished town south of Naples during the 1950s and 1960s, while helping to set up nursery centers.

The Bay of Noon

Shirley Hazzard (Penguin, 1970). This story of an Englishwoman working in Naples points out all too well why most of "us" don't understand "them."

Naples '44

Norman Lewis (Eland, 1978).

An intelligence officer in the labyrinth.

Italian Journey, 1786-88

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. For those who want to experience Campania as part of the 18th- and 19th-century "Grand Tour" taken by everyone who was anyone. The Schocken Bodes edition was translated beautifully by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer.

The Story of San Michele

Axel Munthe

The story of Munthe's love affair of italy. It begins when he leaves Sweden to volunteer his medical services to earthquake ravaged Sicily in 1908. Then continues as he builds his own temple San Michele.

Unto The Sons

Gay Talese

Knopf, 1992

And finally, for a truly in-depth understanding of this fascinating region, read, by In this multi-generational tale of a family from Calabria, an impoverished region that was long under the dominion of the Realm of Naples, Talese paints a vibrant picture of what it waS like to live here as much of Western history swept through on its way to more illustrious destinations.

The Leopard

For more classic tastes, there are the short stories of Luigi Pirandello and Leonardo Sciascia, or Giuseppe Tomasi Lampedusa's magnificent " (also an equally brilliant film by Luchino Visconti). Pietro Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" presents a rather melodramatic view of Sicilians struggling against their wild passions and their grinding poverty.

The Ghandi of Sicily

Italian social worker Danilo Dolci.

A century later, the heroic achievements of some in fighting that same poverty are chronicled in the works of "

On Persephone's Island

Mary Taylor Simeti

Paperback: 330 pages

Mary Taylor Simeti arrived in Sicily in 1962 to do volunteer work. The book recounts the events of 1983 Her narrative alternates between Palermo, where her husband is a professor of agricultural economy, and the countryside of Bosco, 30 miles away, where she shoulders demanding responsibilities on the working farm that has belonged to her husband's family for three generations. Filled with rich helpings of Sicilian history and culture with events and insight, Simeti makes observations about the complexity of changing times in a society where the persistent reliance on feudal relationships and agriculture is finally crumbling. This is an absorbing account of a woman's love affair with a place that beckons us with sounds, tastes, colors, and myth.

Under the Tuscan Sun

Frances Mayes

Paperback 288 pages

In this memoir of her buying, renovating, and living in an abandoned villa in Tuscany, Mayes reveals the sensual pleasure she found living in rural Italy, and the generous spirit she brought with her. Cooking, gardening, tiling and painting are never chores, but skills to be learned, arts to be practiced, and above all to be enjoyed. Mayes' delightful recipes, evocative descriptions of the nearby village of Cortona, and thoughtful musings on the Italian spirit only add to the pleasure. If you haven't been to Italy, you'll fall in love with the country after reading this book. If you have been to Italy, read this book and you'll be seduced by its beauty, deep history and sensuousness.


Elizabeth Romer

Paperback 182 pages

The story of a family's everyday life in a valley joining Umbria and Tuscany. Those who dwell here live in medieval houses, pray before altarpieces painted by Renaissance masters and prepare their food with the grace and balance instilled into them by hundreds of years of measured civilization. In reading about the family's daily life and the food they grow and prepare, one realizes how the Tuscan cuisine is inextricably bound to the culture and personality of Tuscany and its people. Month by month, chronicles each season's activities:. Also scattered throughout this lovely calendar are recipes.

Flavors from a Calabrese Kitchen

Ken Borelli.

You don't have to be Calabrese to enjoy this book. Truly "alla casalinga," that is, home style, cooking is featured. The Calabrese regional style influenced and is part of the culinary heritage of Southern Italians in the United States.

A Lupa (Opera libretto in Sicilian)

Gaetano Cipolla.

In English, 32 pages.

The Land and the Spirit of Italy

John Navone

English, 215 pages.

Grasps with clarity and passion the qualities that make Italy a very special place.

The Poetry of Nino Martoglio

Nino Martoglio

edited and translated by Gaetano Cipolla

In English and Sicilian, 304 pages.

Selections from Centona,. Nino Martoglio was a gifted playwright who single-handedly crafted the Sicilian theatre and was instrumental in coaxing Pirandello to start writing plays. He was a journalist, a pioneer movie director, and an impresario par excellance. Nino Martoglio was also a very gifted poet who embodied and expressed in his poetry the soul of the Sicilian people. In this bilingual volume, the best of Martoglio's poetry is published together with a wonderfully inventive English version written by Gaetano Cipolla.

Dante's Lyric Poems

Translated by Joseph Tusiani

Introduction and notes by Guiseppe Di Scipio.

Bilingual format Italian/English, 244 pages.

These poems offer readers wonderful insights into the personality of the great Florentine poet. They are indispensable for an understanding of the Divine Comedy. Joseph Tusiani, the foremost translator of Italian poetry, has done miracles in Dante's Lyric Poems. Giuseppe Di Scipio's incisive introduction and copious notes make this volume a must for all students of Dante.

Malidittu la lingua/Damned Language

by Vincenzo Ancona, edited by Anna L. Chairetakis and Joseph Sciorra, translated by Gaetano Cipolla.


Vicenzo Ancona is a poet who has been endowed by nature with certain gifts that facilitate his task in this world: a quick wit, an extraordinarily developed memory and an acute sensitivity to the world around him. This 212-page bilingual volume in Sicilian and English includes two tapes of 60 minutes each of Mr. Ancona reciting his poetry in Sicilian.

Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy

edited by Luigi Bonaffini

paperback US

This 500 page, tri-lingual anthology features the most significant and characteristic poetry produced in Southern Italy and the Islands. The dialect selections from Latium (Lazio), Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Lucania (Basilicata), Sicilia and Sardegna are translated into English and into Italian by dialect specialists. Each poet's work is prefaced by critical notes highlighting trends and movements within the wide horizon of dialect poetry. This book shows readers a new world of poetry, often and wrongly ignored by main-stream reviewers.

Cucina di Calabria

Mary Amabile Palmer

Pub. Faber & Faber; copyright 1997

ISBN: 0-571-19918-6

Treasured Recipes and Family Traditions from Southern Italy. The flyleaf says it "is the first cookbook devoted to the distinctive, lusty food of Calabria.' It has nearly 200 recipes--..."recipes are interwoven with anecdotes about Calabrian culture and history...traditions, festivals, and folklore."

Festivals of the World "ITALY"

Pub. by Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1997

It talks about major Italian feasts and festivals in Italy This book is very simply written and has lots of color photos.


Ken Borelli

Calabrian cook book, contains many customs and anecdotes of the Calabrian lifestyle. Truly "alla casalinga," that is, home style, cooking is featured. The Calabrese regional style influenced and is part of the culinary heritage of Southern Italians in the United States".


Norman Douglas

The Modern Library in 1928.

There is a terrific book about customs in Calabria, that is long since out of print:.Keep it on your list to find in stores selling used books.


Rose and Hal Higdon

180 pages (paperback)

Hal Higdon Communications, Inc. 219-879-0133.

The author, http://www.halhigdon.com, 06/29/96

Legend has it that seven noble Christian families fled Albania to escape the Turks in the 15th century, settling in a place they called "Falconara" because they spotted a falcon overhead. In researching this legend, Higdon uncovers the rich history of the transplanted Albanians, painting a portrait of Italy that is rarely seen."

The book is listed at with photographs.

Beyond the Godfather

Italian American Writers on the Real Italian American Experience

by A. Kenneth Ciongoli & Jay Parini

A collection of essay's about Italian American life which tries to give a better understanding of these people in contrast to the erroneous image created for them by the popularity of the Godfather movies. Essayists include Parini, Ciongoli, Gay Talese, Fred Gardaph, Edvige Giunta Richard Gambino, Linda Hutcheon, Cathy Davidson, Sandra Gilbert, Louise DeSalvo and Marianna Torgovnick


A True Story of the Worst Lynching in America

The Mass Murder of Italian-Americans in New Orleans in 1891

Richard. Gambino

Building Little Italy

Philadelphia's Italians Before Mass Migration

Richard N. Juliani

Paperback - 408 pages (April 1998)

Pennsylvania State University Press

ISBN: 0271017325

Richard Juliani tells the story of early Italians in the City of Brotherly Love: why they chose that city, what their lives were like, where they lived, and how they interrelated

Bruculinu, America

Remembrances of Sicilian-American Brooklyn, Told in Stories and Recipes

by Vincent Schiavelli

Hardcover - 336 pages (May 1998)

Houghton Mifflin Co (Trd); ISBN: 0395913748

A Cobbler's Universe

Religion, Poetry, and Performance in the Life of a South Italian Immigrant

by Frank S. Spiziri, Catherine L. Albanese

ISBN: 0826408753

Hardcover (September 1997)

Continuum Pub Group;

This intimate and revealing study of the immigrant experience provides a detailed examination of Italian-American life at the turn of the century. Albanese gives an intimate and authoritative look at her grandfather, Frank Spiziri (1878-1958), in a body of poems that reveal immigrant religious life and explore the sensibility of a man who bridged the gap between artisan and gentleman, shoemaker and artist.

Dagoes Read

Tradition and the Italian/American Writer

Fred L. Gardaphe

ISBN: 1550710311

Paperback - 236 pages (January 1997)

Guernica Editions;

Since 1987, writer and critic Fred Gardaphe has regularly reviewed Italian/North American literature in Fra Noi, an Italian/American monthly newspaper based in Chicago. This volume features the best of 'Parole scritte', his monthly columns. Introduced by an essay, from which the collection gets its title, Dagoes Read is the first publication of its kind in the history of Italian/North American literature. It serves as a fine introduction to this literary movement as well as survey of recent publications by Italian/North Americans. Works reviewed include those by Tony Ardizzone, Dorothy Bryant, Pietro di Donato, John Fante, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Frank Lentricchia, Jay Parini, Diane Raptosh, Gay Talese, Sal LaPuma, and many others.

Growing Up and Growing Old in Italian-American Families

Colleen Leahy Johnson ISBN: 0813510643

Hardcover (March 1985)

Rutgers Univ Press

I Am Italian American (Our American Family)

Brenda Depalma, Ruth Turk

ISBN: 0823950158

Hardcover (August 1998)

Rosen Publishing Group