Armchair Travel: Tuscany

If you’ve always wanted to travel to Tuscany, or are lucky enough to have been there, you can feed your fantasies or rekindle your memories through a number of books about (or set in) that particularly congenial region of Italy. Here are some recommended titles, listed by publication date [list updated March 15, 2011]. All of them can be borrowed from the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library:


  • Every Day in Tuscany by Frances Mayes (2010)
  • The Wisdom of Tuscany: Simplicity, Security, and the Good Life by Ferenc Máté (2010)
  • A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: Exploring & Eating Off The Beaten Track by Beth Elon (2009)
  • A Small Place in Italy by Eric Newby (2008)
  • Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine and Family in the Heart of Italy by Sergio Esposito (2008)
  • A Day in Tuscany: More Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide by Dario Castagno (2007)
  • Tuscan Light: Memories of Italy by Mark Gordon Smith (2007)
  • A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream by Ferenc Máté (2007)
  • Ah! Tuscany: The Enlightenment of an Expatriate by Don McPherson (2006)
  • In Tuscany by Frances Mayes (2006)
  • The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian by Phil Doran (2005)
  • A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure by Marlena de Blasi (2004).
  • Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide by Dario Catagno (2004)
  • Tuscan Echoes: A Season in Italy by Mark Gordon Smith (2003)
  • Botticelli Blue Skies: An American in Florence by Merrill Joan Gerber (2002)
  • Florence: A Delicate Case by David Leavitt (2002)
  • In Maremma: Life and a House in Southern Tuscany by David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell. (2002)
  • Seven Years in Tuscany by Amanda Ferragamo (2002)
  • A Garden in Luca: Finding Paradise in Tuscany by Paul Gervais (2000)
  • In Tuscany by Frances Mayes (2000)
  • A Tuscan Childhood by Kenta Beevor (2000)
  • Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes (1999)
  • The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land byFerenc Mate (1999)
  • A Tuscan Paradise by Maria Schinz (1998)
  • The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings by R.W.B. Lewis (1996)
  • The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley by Elizabeth Romer (1996)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes (1996)
  • War in Val D’Orcia 1943-1944: A Diary by Iris Origo (1995)
  • Within Tuscany: Reflections on a Time and Place by Matthew Spender (1992)
  • Italian Hours by Henry James (1909)

Novels set in Tuscany:

  • A Hilltop in Tuscany by Stephanie Grace Whitson (2006)
  • Secrets of Sant’Angelo by Jeff Shapiro (2005)
  • Tuscany for Beginners by Imogen Edwards-Jones (2004)
  • The Birth of Venus by Sara Dunant (2003)
  • Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler (2002)
  • The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland (2002)
  • The English Patient by Micahel Ondaatje (1992)
  • Ratking by Michael Dibdin (1989)
  • Summer’s Lease by John Mortimer (1988)
  • Death in Autumn by Magdalen Nabb (1985)
  • Death of a Dutchman by Magdalen Nabb (1984)
  • Innocence by Penelope Fitzgerald (1986)
  • Tuscan Spring: A Novel about Sandro Botticelli by James Cleugh (1939)
  • Aaron’s Rod by D.H. Lawrence (1921)
  • The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (1913)
  • A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905)
  • Indian Summer by William Dean Howells (1886)

You can read excerpts from some of these books – and from dozens of shorter memoirs collected from magazine articles – in:

  • Tuscany in Mind: An Anthology edited by Alice Leccese Powers (2005)
  • Tuscany: True Stories edited by James O’Reilly and Tara Austen Weaver (2002)
  • Italy in Mind edited by Alice Leccese Powers (1997)
  • Desiring Italy edited by Susan Cahill (1997)

 Heartstoppingly gorgeous photographs of the area can be found in:

  • Tuscan Country: A Photographer’s Journey by Wes Walker (2007)
  • One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Italy by Paolo Lazzarin (2004)
  • Tuscany: Inside the Light by Joel Meyerowitz (2003)
  • The Most Beautiful Country Towns of Tuscany by James Bentley and Alex Ramsay (2001)
  • The Most Beautiful Villages of Tuscany by James Bentley and Hugh Palmer (1995)
  • Views from a Tuscan Vineyard by Carey More and Julian More (1987)

Aside from numerous Italian (and specifically Tuscan) cookbooks – some of them with sumptuous photographs of the countryside – that you can also borrow from the library, there are also plenty of non-scholarly books about Tuscan art, architecture, and home interiors. A small sample:

  • Tuscan Living by Simon McBride (2006)
  • Bringing Tuscany Home by Frances Mayes (2004)
  • Tuscan Elements by Alexandra Black (2002)
  • Tuscany Interiors by Paolo Rinaldi (1998)
  • The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy (1963)
  • Tuscan Cities by William Dean Howells (1900)

If you’d like to augment your reading with some movies set in Tuscany, you can borrow these as well from the library system’s collections:

  • The English Patient (1996)
  • Life is Beautiful (1998)
  • Much Ado about Nothing (1993)
  • The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982)
  • A Room with a View (1986)
  • Shadows in the Sun (2006)
  • Stealing Beauty (1996)
  • Swept Away (1975)
  • Swept Away (2002)
  • Tea with Mussolini (1999)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
  • Up at the Villa (2000)

And when you’re ready to plan your first or next trip to Tuscany, the library has a wide variety of guidebooks, both to Italy in general and to Tuscany in particular, that you may borrow.

P.S. If your top travel fantasies or memories involve someplace other than Italy, the library probably has plenty of materials on that place too! In fact, next time you’re in the Ponce Branch, you might want to poke around in the book display there about Armchair Travel. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, check the library catalog and start stocking up.

Bon voyage!

Several sources were used to compile this list, including the literary anthology Italy in Mind edited by Alice Leccese Powers (1997); websites such as,, and travel guidebooks (such as Lonely Planet’s Tuscany & Umbria and Fodor’s Florence, Tuscany & Umbria. The websites and guidebooks include synopses of many of the recommended book titles.


2 Responses to Armchair Travel: Tuscany

  1. טיולים says:

    Great! loved it.. LIKE :>

  2. Wonderful place to visit. Siena won my heart, Piza was good but didn’t seem to think enough of itself, imho.

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