The Eyewitness Travel Guides are known for their comprehensive and detailed pictures, drawings, floor plans, neighborhood maps, and illustrations. It's a great planning tool even though it's not updated yearly as some of the other guides are. My only complaint is that it is a little heavy to carry around.
Fodor's guide includes unique sections with insights from locals and recommendations from other travelers. It also includes tools for trip planning, tips, cultural background, lots of photos, and maps in addition to descriptions of what to see.
See It Italy includes lots of photos and maps. The bulk of the book covers the "Sights" broken down into 9 regions. The book also has sections on Understanding Italy, Getting Around, What to Do, Out and About, Eating and Staying, and Planning. It's a little heavy to carry around but a good resource for before you go.
National Geographic Traveler is full of beautiful photos and good information about Italy. The book is divided into sections by region and has maps, a section on history, and a travel wise section.
If you prefer downloading apps about Italy travel, we have some recommendations for you. These apps have maps and great photos. Choose the apps for the places that interest you. Apps are easy to carry and economical.
Here's a book I've used frequently since the first edition came out in 1996. An updated fifth edition came out in May, 2010, and it's still one of my favorite books for travel planning. Fred Plotkin gives a culinary overview of each region with restaurant and food information for 300 towns and cities in Italy that includes must-see towns in each region, festivals, and in-depth looks at classic towns. This is not your typical travel guide (no hotels or top attractions) but a good book to read before you go and take note of places you want to eat or visit, especially if you're interested in food or getting off the beaten tourist path.
The Let's Go books are written with student travelers in mind and aimed primarily at the budget traveler. They have great information about traveling by public transportation, useful even if you're not on a budget. Also available in a kindle edition.
Italy has many interesting World War II sites. This compact, well-written book covers major museums, monuments, and battlegrounds associated with World War II and includes a historical introduction, visiting information, and travel directions for each of them. Also in the book are maps and haunting photos from the war.
Laura Morelli's book is a shopper's guide to Italy's best artisan traditions. A great book for shoppers as well as those interested in Italian handicrafts and traditions.