Our top 10 books for learning about Italy

explore Italy through the pages of a good book

When you think of Italy, you might imagine life during the time of the Roman Empire, or wandering the streets of Florence during the Renaissance. Perhaps your imagination conjures up conversations with some of Italy's great thinkers or artists. Maybe you're like me, and just thinking of munching on pizza and gelato?!

We believe that one of the best ways to learn about a new destination, is to read a good book! So find a cosy nook, grab one of the following books and transport yourself across the seas to Italy through the pages of one of these amazing books!

the books

1. Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D'Agnese, illustrated by John O'Brien

This biography about Fibonacci is a great introduction to his life, his impact on our lives today - and the discovery of the Fibonacci sequence! This is a really fantastic book to get your kiddos to see how exciting (and practical) maths can be!

2. Starry Messenger by Peter Sis

The illustrations in this book are amazing. And the story that accompanies them is more than a little magical. Peter Sis shares the story of Galileo Galilei's life and his love of the starry sky. The book has a lovely message of how following a passion can lead to great things, but also touches on the troubles Galileo had with the Catholic church when he asserted that the earth was not the centre of the universe. This book is a beautiful read, and a great starting point for some wonderful conversations.

3. Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You can Build Yourself by Maxine Anderson

This book is a great introduction to the amazing mind of Leonardo da Vinci - his art techniques and inventions. The thing my kiddos loved the most, and I'm sure yours will too, is the huge selection of projections inspired by Leonardo's own inventions!

4. You wouldn't want to Live in Pompeii! A Volcanic Eruption You'd Rather Avoid written by John Malam, illustrated by David Antram

My girls adore the You wouldn't want to series, and if you're after gory facts that young minds will relish and retain - this book is for your little ones!!

5. Visitor's Guide to Ancient Rome by Lesley Sims

We love a good Usborne book, and this one doesn't disappoint! Imagine you've found a time machine, and travelled back in time 2000 years! The one book you'll want to have read - is this - the Visitor's Guide to Ancient Rome. This book was super fun to read, with loads of little tidbits about Ancient Roman life!

6. This is Rome by Miroslav Sasek

We will be forever obsessed with the 'This is...' series by Miroslav Sasek and This is Rome is another beautiful example of his wonderful retro explorations of some of the great cities around the world! The illustrations are the best, and I love that the new editions keep all the same text from the original publication, with updates at the back of the book. This is Venice is also part of the series, if you're like us and can't get enough of these books!

7. The Silver Spoon for Children: Favourite Italian Recipes by Amanda Grant

We will always believe that one of the best ways to learn about a different place or culture, is to get eating their food! The Silver Spoon for Children is the kids edition of a classic Italian food cookbook, and with simple ingredients and instructions, and gorgeous illustrations, this book is a great way to get in the kitchen and start embracing the Italian way of life!

8. The Magical World of Strega Nona: A Treasury by Tomie DePaola

Strega Nona is a folktale-esque story based on the 'Witch Grandma' character created by Tomie DePaola. These tales are set in Calabria and are a sweet imagining of traditional Italian folktales.

9. Stone Giant: Michelangelo's David and how he came to be by Jane Sutcliffe, illustrated by John Shelley

This picture book contains the great story about how Michelangelo's David started life as a giant slab or marble and became perhaps the most famous statue of all time. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous - and the story of Michelangelo's hard work is interesting. There's a bibliography at the back of the book if your kiddos want to learn more too!

10. Meet the Artist! Leonardo da Vinci by Patricia Geis

The Meet the Artist! series by Patricia Geis is enchanting, and this particular edition is a wonderful way to learn a little bit more about the amazing Leonardo da Vinci! If you want to introduce your kiddos to Leonardo, I can highly recommend this book. There are lots of interactive parts of the book, that kiddos just love.

want more amazing resources?

If you want more resources for a specific destination, check out our resources page for book recommendations and more!

I hope you enjoy exploring the world through the pages of some of these books - they're real treasures that our family just loves!

Stay Curious!

Hana xo