My favorite way to gear up for a trip is to read everything I can get my hands on about that place and its culture. Luckily, this is an absolute pleasure when your destination is Florence! Here are books in several categories for you to consider. I’ve read most of them, and the ones I haven’t come highly recommended.
Death in the Mountains, by Lisa Clifford
Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman
Kindergarten Rocks!, by Katie Davis
Little Chicken’s Big Day, by Katie Davis
The Sixteen Pleasures - This is one of my favorite books of all time. When I found out there was a sequel (The Italian Lover), I
The Italian Lover - To my pleasant surprise, I enjoyed the sequel almost as much as the first.
A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster – Or you can cheat and watch the lovely film!
The Doorbells of Florence, by Andrew Losowsky
The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone – Epic fictionalized biography of Michelangelo
I, Mona Lisa, by Jeanne Kalogrides
The Smile, by Donna Jo Napoli
The Second Mrs. Giaconda, by E. L. Konigsburg
Leonardo’s Swans, by Karen Essex – Takes place mostly in Milan and Mantua, but a stunning tale of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius and the political climate of Renaissance Italy
The Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant
The Passion of Artemisia, by Susan Vreeland
Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel
The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri - I know, I KNOW! Not an easy read. But since we are in Dante’s city, it’s worth a try.
The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli
The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
Michelangelo: Life, Letters and Poetry, translated by George Bull and Peter Porter
The Lives of the Artists, by Giorgio Vasari
The Essential Petrarch, by Francesco Petrarch and Peter Hainsworth
Dante in Love, by A. N. Wilson
Dante, A Life, by R. W. B. Lewis
La Bella Lingua, by Dianne Hales
Brunelleschi’s Dome, by Ross King
The House of Medici: It’s Rise and Fall, by Christopher Hibbert
The Stones of Florence, by Mary McCarthy