Books for Your Pleasure & Information

Room with a View, E.M. Forster

A travelogue/love story set in 19th century Italy and taking place in the delightfully old-school hotel in Fiesole called Bencista. Some of our tours pass a night there because the ambiance seems unchanged from those times and it is so close to all the delights of the hilltop town of Fiesole. The little hotel has been owned by the same family for over 100 years.

The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance, Paul Robert Walker

My favorite book so far about the renaissance, full of wonderful details and investigations about the lives and temperaments of two men who changed western art irrevocably. A lively portrait of Florence’s art scene and the wild  and often cruel practical jokes played upon each other, usually designed by Brunelleschi as well as insights into his mind and motives.

Brunelleschi’s Dome, Ross King

Fascinating view into renaissance Florentine life. If you don’t have time for anything else, this is the one to at least scan. Reads like a novel.

Blue Guide Florence, Alta Macadam

History of every famous building and sight in Florence.

The Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence,  Louise Fili & Lise Apatoff       

A charming and knowledgeable guide to the best shops Florence has to offer, many of them very old and still in business. With useful maps making the often tiny, out-of-the-way treasures findable. Fun!

The Companion Guide to Florence, Eve Borsook

In discussing the Florentine monuments and their origins in the city’s life, Eve Borsook presents a study of the ideas, events and personalities of Florence.

Lives of the Artists of the Italian Renaissance, Giorgio Vasari

This man did serious promotion for himself and fellow artists, and was not afraid to invent what he didn’t know or didn’t think was useful about their lives. He wrote about all the important artists in Florence. Really cool.

The Language of the Angels, Symbols and Secrets of the Basilica of San Miniato, Renzo Manetti

Manetti is an expert on sacred architecture and finds hidden meaning in the ancient principals used to build this strange Gothic basilica high above Florence.It is a kind of real life “Da Vinci Code”, and proposes that here is one of the truly powerful spiritual places where Heaven and earth meet. It is, however, not a novel, but an academic work requiring focused reading. I found it as fascinating as I find the church as well.

Renaissance Woman, Gaia Servadio

Three biographies of women of their time from various social strata that all tell the tale of a brief but illuminating 60 years at the height of the renaissance when women could live creatively until the Great Schism brought the extreme oppression by the Catholic church crushing all possibility of reform within it and any thought of womens’ expanding role in the arts and society.

Strolling Through Florence, Franco Ciarleglio

A reader’s stroll through historic Florence full of curious facts, anecdotes and legends in various corners of the city, many dating back to medieval and renaissance times.

The Stones of Florence, Mary McCarthy

Written in the 1950’s, McCarthy says Florence is the successor to Athens in Western Culture. A major opus connecting history and personality, written in an edgy essayist’s style and complemented with stunning photographs by Evelyn Hofer.