Books about Italy make great gifts for anyone who likes Italy or Italian cuisine, is studying Italian language, planning a trip, or just enjoys armchair travel. Here's a selection of my recommendations for gift books with the newest additions at the top of the list. Give them as gifts or buy one for yourself.
For more gift ideas see our Italy Gifts Guide.
Susan Van Allen's book, published by Traveler's Tales, is a great resource for women traveling to Italy. The book starts with an interesting introduction to goddesses and women saints and then tells you where to find them. Following chapters include beaches, spas, gardens, food, entertainment, shopping, and active adventures. Although I have no desire to see all 100, it's a good list with lots of great ideas. For each of the 100 places she gives a recommendation about how to make it a "golden day" with restaurant and sometimes hotel suggestions. Although aimed at women, I think men would enjoy most of these places, too.
Also by Susan Van Allen - Letters from Italy: Confessions, Adventures, and Advice
Linda Falcone's book is entertaining reading for anyone studying Italian or interested in Italian language and customs. The book has short vignettes about Italain words or phrases. I read this book a year ago but it keep popping into my head as I travel around Italy. It's one of those books that I both really enjoyed and learned a lot from.
The full title is Italian, It's All Greek to Me: Everything You Don't Know About Italian Language and Culture, but in Italy the title is Italians Dance and I'm a Wallflower, Adventures in Italian Expression (see photo). Linda has another equally interesting book of vignettes published by the Florentine Press but not yet available in the US called If They Are Roses, the Italian Way with Words.
Diane Hales combines a scholarly approach with humor to give the reader an in-depth look at the history of the Italian language and how some Italian words and phrases came about in La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair With Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language. Diane has studied Italian in depth and her book is well-researched and well-written. This is another book of interest to anyone learning Italian.
Italy for the Gourmet Traveler is one of my favorite books about Italy and has been since the first edition came out in 1996. I've used the old book many times to plan travel or read about regional food, wine, and customs. The updated fifth edition was released in May, 2010, and it's still a great book. This is a good book for anyone going to Italy who is interested in food or who wants to experience more than just the tourist attractions.
In Cafe Live Venice, Joe Wolff takes us to family run cafes, bars, and pastry shops throughout the city. But the book is much more than just cafe recommendations as its steeped with interesting information about the history, neighborhoods, and customs of Venice. The book is beautifully illustrated, too.
Why Italians Love to Talk About Food is another book about regional food, written by Umberto Eco's Russian translator who has lived in Italy for 20 years. The book takes the reader on a journey through Italy's regions, talking about the region's history and culture and moving on to the food of the region. The book is written in an enjoyable narrative style rather than being a reference book.