reading list

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Living in Rome, surrounded every day by the extraodinary history and culture of the city, we've become hungry to learn everything about it, which has made us avid readers. We have a very low opinion of commercial travel guides, which are rarely written by the people who live here, but by one or more journalists sent in take a quick look around, check off points from a list and report back. The books we recommend are different. On these pages, we'll share some of our favorite books with you, books will enhance your Italian experience, whether you're in Rome now or planning a visit in the future. We'd love it if you'd share your favorites with us, too. We'll put your reading list on this page, along with your name and photo, if you send us a message at: Joie@InRomeNow.com

The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, Its History, Its People and Its Survival for 300 Years
by Nicholas Stanley-Price

Recently published, this is the ultimate guide to one of Rome's hidden treasures. Percy Bysshe Shelly, who is buried there, called it "The most beautiful and solemn cemetery I have ever beheld." It's worth a visit for it garden setting and its history. You'll find the graves of the greats —poets Keats and Shelley and the humble — English servants Annie Walker and Robert French and dozens of interesting personalities from all walks of life. The book is beautifully designed and illustrated, with fascinating information on the history of the cemetery and charts give you a chronology of the cemetery and a list of graves and memorials.
Paperback, pub. The Non-Catholic Cemetry in Rome 2014,  156 pp.

Rome, the Second Time Around by Dianne Bennett and William Graebner

Most guidebooks are outdated by the time they reach the stores, but this one is different. Beautifully written, with an enthusiasm for the Eternal City that warms every page, it takes readers far off the beaten path, into neighborhoods where tourists seldom tread. The eclectic selection of itineraries includes an exploration of Rome's Fascist architecture, its remaining aqueducts, and the middle-class neighborhoods of Nomentana and Pineto. The authors have included sidebars on such random topics as reading the inscriptions on momuments, ordering coffee, a brief history of the Jews in Rome and a glossary of Italian real estate terms.
Paperback, pub. Curious Traveler Press 2009, 244 pp.

Rome Biography of a City

Rome, Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert

This is Rome 101, it's a complete history of the country from the earliest days to World War II: It's well-researched, scholarly and even insightful, but it's never academic. Pure pleasure, it reads like a novel. If you only read one book on Rome, read this one. It will enhance your enjoyment of the city immeasureably. You won't just be looking at building and ruins, you'll be seeing the stories that Hibbert tells.
Paperback, pub. Penguin 1987, 400 pp.

The Families Who Made Rome: A History and Guide by Anthony Majanlahti

Visiting or living in Rome, you'll hear and see the same names over and over again: Borghese, Chigi, de Medici, Farnese. This book tells you the stories of the great families who built the city, the grand palazzi and villa, the family cardinals and popes, the intrigues, the intermarriage, the scandals and conflicts and wars. Best of all, he includes walking tours so that you can follow the histories of the great families through their legacies.
Paperback. Pub. Pimlico 2006, 432 pp.

A Literary Companion to Rome by John Varriano

Rome has inspired writers and artists since the days of Pliny and Cato. Varriano organizes ten terrific walking tours of the city, and gives us literary quotes, so we can compare our own reactions with those of writers like Gore Vidal, Eveyln Waugh, Edith Wharton, John Updike and a host of others. Paperback, pub. John Murray 1992 , 298 pp

A Traveller in Rome by H.V. Morton
One of the great classics of the traveling writing genre, first published in 1957. Morton gives a full and rich, highly readable background for all of Rome's top attractions and many of it's charms, from the cats of Trajan's market to the joys of St. Peter's in the early morning.
Paperback, pub. Methuen 1957, 430 pp.

Italian Journey, 1786-1788 by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The great Goethe is a young man on an adventure and amazingly chatty in this book, compiled from a series of letters home. He falls in love with Rome and all of Italy, of course, and gives a running update of his experiences, cultural, artistic and social. An easy and fascinating read.
Paperback, pub. Penguin Classics, 512 pp

The Companion Guide to Rome
by Georgina Masson
Originally published  in 1965, this now classic Rome guide is still the gold standard. John Fort has updated the information twice, most recently in 2011, so you miss nothing by going back to the source and you'll have the joy of Masson's gorgeous prose, at once highly informative and passionate.
Paperback pub. Companion Guides 2011, pp 738


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