Books we love


The War in Val D’Orcia

by Iris Origo

The Mezzadria, World War II and love for the land. One of the best books on Tuscany.

The Merchant of Prato

by Iris Origo

The author of the War in Val D’Orcia, The Merchant of Prato was her thesis at the University of Florence. Excellent introduction into the life of a Rennaisance family and the day to day function of the household.

Images and Shadows

by Iris Origo

The autobiography of an amazing women and superb author. By 3 years old Iris spoke 3 languages. The daughter of an American and English gentleman raised in Fiesole with Bernard Beranson’s library at her disposal and Villa Gamberaia and Villa Medici as her playgrounds. Married the Marchese Origo and shared his love for agriculture and the mezzadria. Saved lives in the war, started schools, vaccinated hundreds of children all before she was 30.

A Tuscan Childhood

by Kinta Beevor

Another amazing story focusing on the life of an English women in Tuscany during and after the second world war. The Castle of Fosdinova Malaspina was this womens home and her garden was a 500 acre farm in the Garfagnana.

Italian Neighbours

By Tim Parks

Tim Parks managed to figure out the Italians within a few years of living, working and playing in the Veneto. From rent, to marriage he hits it right on the head. There is not an expat living in this country that will not agree that Tim put in to words what so many of us have thought!

An Italian Education

By Tim Parks

Tim is now the father of a 6 year old and has been living in Italy for 8 years. He really gets it now and he is still able amuse us with his wit and sarcasm.

The Sixteen Pleasures

by Robert Hellenga

A whimsical story taking place during the horrible flood of Florence in 1966. Great introduction to the food.

The Soldier of the Great War

by Mark Helprin

Just read it. I don’t know how to describe this book in a few words. But if you are a fan of Mark Helprin then read this book.

The English Patient

by Michael Ondaatje

World War II, Tuscany, love and tears. Made a much better book than movie!

A Rennaisance Tapistry, The Gonzaga of Mantua

by Kate Simon

Fantastic description of life in the home of the great Gonzaga family. The pet dwarf, the 4 year old educated to dine at formal dinners with heads of state, the artists the power. Very interesting family. It wasn’t only about the Medici in the Renaissance.

The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici

by Cristopher Hibbert

Very good read for anyone interested in Florence and the Renaissance.

On Painting

by Leon Battista Alberti

A must read for any Rennaisance art historian and lover of the period. Alberti gave instructions to the budding young artists of his day, one was to stay away from women…seems like a lot of them took his advice!

The Craftsman’s Handbook

translated by Daniel V.Thompson, Jr.

A craftmans handbook for the great artists and artisans of the Rennaisance. How to use and egg and ricotta to make a fresco? The answers are all here!

Lives of the Artists

by Vassari

Another must read for anyone that loves Florence and the great artists of this great city.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

by Irving Stone

Very entertaining biography featuring the man of the hour, Michelangelo. If you read it 20 years ago it is really worth picking up again before, after or during your stay in Florence or Rome.

The Leopard

by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa

Noble decadence, Sicily and the fall of the great nobility of the time. One of the few books that was made into a world class movie thanks to the skill of the director, Visconti.