Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Five great books set in Tuscany
30th April 2019
Five great books set in Tuscany is the latest in our ‘Five great books…’ series.
Tuscany lies in central Italy, and is renowned for its history, artistic heritage, architecture, bucolic landscapes, food and wine. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and is home to some of the best museums and art galleries in the world.
With so many attractions, Tuscany is a magnet for tourists and has become known as ‘Chiantishire’ because of its perennial popularity with wine-loving Brits.
Here are just a few books set firmly in this intoxicating and timeless region in Italy….
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone – set in Florence
Irving Stone’s powerful and passionate biographical novel of Michelangelo.
His time: the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring popes, the all-powerful Medici family, the fanatic monk Savonarola.
His loves: the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de Medici; the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi; and his last love – his greatest love – the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna.
His genius: a God-driven fury from which he wrested the greatest art the world has ever known.
Michelangelo Buonarotti, creator of David, painter of the Sistine ceiling, architect of the dome of St Peter’s, lives once more in the tempestuous, powerful pages of Irving Stone’s marvellous book.
The Italian Party by Christina Lynch – set in Siena
Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany’s famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.
When Scottie’s Italian teacher–a teenager with secrets of his own–disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.
Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.
Simonetta by Fay Picardi – set in Florence
Have you ever wondered about who Botticelli chose to depict in his immortal painting Birth of Venus? Was she a real person, his model or his mistress?
Most people recognize her image, but few can name her. Even fewer know her personal story. Do you know that her liaisons with the Medici family at the height of the Italian Renaissance caused such a sensation that the intrigue endures today? That Lorenzo de’ Medici wrote love poems to her? That Botticelli asked to be buried at her feet?
After years of research, poet and author Fay Picardi carefully unveils the captivating narrative portrait of this fascinating woman and adds enough detail that the reader feels as if he or she is inhabiting Florence during the period of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M Cram – set in San Gimignano and Siena
Sofia is trained in secret as a painter in her father’s workshop during a time when women did not paint openly. She loves her work, but her restless spirit leads her to betray her extraordinary gifts to marry a man who comes to despise her for not producing a son.
After Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco during an attack motivated by a vendetta, Sofia realises she must escape her loveless marriage. She flees to Siena, where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.
Meticulously researched settings and compelling characters are united with a strong heroine in this rich portrait of medieval Italy.
In Love and War by Alex Preston – set in Florence
A tale of love, heroism and resistance set against the stunning backdrop of 1930s Florence, In Love and War weaves fact and fiction to create a thrilling portrait of a man swept up in the chaos of war.
Desperate to prove himself to his politician father, Esmond Lowndes is sent to Italy to forge ties between the British Union of Fascists and Mussolini’s government. He is also escaping the disgrace of a scandalous love affair. In Florence, he discovers art and passion amongst eccentric expatriates and glamorous locals.
But with the coming of war, he leaves his past behind and joins the Florentine resistance. He falls in love with a fellow freedom fighter and together they take on the malevolent Mario Carità, head of the Fascist secret police. Esmond is at the centre of assassination plots, shoot-outs and car chases, culminating in a final mission of extraordinary daring.
A novel of art and letters, of bawdy raconteurs and dashing spies, In Love and War takes you deep into the hidden heart of history. It is a tale both epic and intimate, harrowing and life-affirming.
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Do you know any other books set firmly in TUSCANY to add to our database? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below, and remember that you can buy any of these books through TripFiction by clicking on the bookseller links on any book icon.
Check out the TripFiction database for our full range of books set in Tuscany.
Other Italian destinations in our ‘Five/ten great books set in…’ series: