A literary tour of Italy: 5 books for discovering the Bel Paese

A literary tour of Italy: 5 books for discovering the Bel Paese

Reading takes you to beautiful places, characters and stories 

7 May 2020

Gruppo UNA

"Reading is a journey for people who cannot take the train,” wrote French playwright/writer Francis de Croisset about travel and books. 

Nothing could be more true at a time when we are forced to stop travelling for reasons beyond our control. Well, voila’, reading works wonders. As long as there are stories to tell and authors to tell them, nothing is out of bounds. Books can send us off on our travels, hearts soaring and imagination running rife, without even leaving our house. Page after page, books are magical vehicles for exploring beautiful, unknown places. 
Like Italy... 
Come visit Italy in your mind by reading these five works we have picked for you. Have a good read and a great trip!

Italian Journey, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“Do you know the land of lemons in bloom, / where golden oranges shine among the dark leaves, / Do you perhaps know it?” In 1786, thirty-seven year old Goethe finally realized his great dream: to travel far and wide through Italy, after yearning to see this land full of beauty. Goethe’s two years in Italy were the happiest years of his life. Creatively, it was a highly productive time, even though he did not share his experience (and only in part) until 1816, almost thirty years after his grand tour of Italy. 
The modern-day edition of the book is a full collection of letters, notes, images and recollections from this immortal artist who shows us an Italy that surprises at every turn.

Italian Journey, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The Eight Mountains, by Paolo Cognetti.

“Whatever his fate, he lives in the mountains, above our heads.” A Premio Strega winner in 2017, this beautiful novel by Paolo Cognetti steals into readers’ hearts with its story of friendship, exploration, discovery, travel and summers spent in the small village of Grana, at the foot of Monte Rosa. The author says this book is simply about two friends and a mountain. But, given its continuing success, whatever he did simply, he did impeccably and breathtakingly well. 

The Eight Mountains, by Paolo Cognetti


Damned Tuscans, by Curzio Malaparte.

A descriptive masterpiece about the Tuscan character and landscapes, offering (undisturbed) access to the authentic heart of Tuscan culture and sites, physical and common, including its narcissistic tendencies! “Even where nature seems to have done things for itself without the help of the Tuscans, you may see the hand of Giotto, Leonardo, Filippo Lippi, Sandro Botticelli, Piero della Francesca... The clouds, streams, rivers, everything that flows through here, everything that reflects the sky, even that silver color that the wind paints the stones and the leaves on the trees as it blows through are the handiwork of some saint or other.”

Damned Tuscans, by Curzio Malaparte


Staying in Tuscany.

From fantasy to reality, when you travel to Tuscany’s beautiful landscapes, come and stay at the elegant Relais Villa Grazianella | UNA Esperienze at Montepulciano. This dream hotel is immersed in the enchanting Sienese hills, making it ideal for a fairytale holiday far from the urban crowds. Alternatively, in the Tuscan hills try UNAHOTELS Poggio dei Medici Toscana, a charming location with its own large golf course, wellness and fitness centre, spacious rooms and suites equipped with all mod cons. 

For city lovers... In Florence, Gruppo UNA offers the modern UNAHOTELS Vittoria Firenze, where the interiors were designed by famous architect Fabio Novembre. This hotel is a comfortable, elegant solution for easy access to all tourist attractions.

Relais Villa Grazianella | UNA Esperienze


Mandami Tanta Vita, by Paolo Di Paolo.

Finalist at the Premio Strega 2013, this rather particular book recalls the magic of Turin in the early twentieth century, which is the backdrop for an encounter between two young men, Giovanni Moraldo and Piero Gobetti, whose destinies end up intertwining coincidences, personal stories, philosophy, portraits, feelings, places and artistic aspirations. After a mix-up over suitcases during a helter-skelter historical period, the pages of this novel conjure up a series of images that provide a snapshot of the faces, customs and situations of the past, imbued with the fragrance of love, travel, hope and rebellion. 

Mandami Tanta Vita, by Paolo Di Paolo


La Nevicata dell’85, by Piero Colaprico and Pietro Valpreda.

This engrossing detective story takes the reader around Milan, not just the well-known bits but its unseen underbelly, coated in the historic “Great Snowfall” that paralyzed Italy in the mid-eighties. While the Lombard capital struggles with this exceptional snowfall, aspiring young lawyer Iris turns to Pietro, a retired former Carabinieri marshal, to investigate her grandfather’s mysterious death: found after an apparent overdose of sleeping pills, the young woman is convinced it was murder... 

La Nevicata dell’85, by Piero Colaprico and Pietro Valpreda

Staying in Milan.

Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze, located in an elegant historic building, is an ideal solution for visitors who’d like to stay in the centre of town. To be near the lively Porta Nuova district, try UNAHOTELS Century Milano: a modern building equipped with all mod cons. The capital city of Lombardy also boasts UNAHOTELS Malpensa, near the airport, and UNAWAY Hotel & Residence Linea Uno Milano, just a short hop from the main railway stations.

UNAHOTELS Century Milano