Gardens and Villas of Central Italy
A Book List
The Swerve: How the Worldbecame Modernby Stephen Greenblatt. Yes, this book appears on virtually all my book lists. I am a huge fan. Even if Greenblatt overstates his case—that the uncovering of a classical manuscript brought about the Renaissance—it is such interesting reading and so relevant to just about everything we do at Italian Journeys.
Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val D’Orcia by Caroline Moorehead. This biography traces the life of a woman of privilege who finds meaning when she and her husband acquire a farm in Tuscany, La Foce, which we are not visiting, but still, the book gives you a good sense of the Brits and Americans who moved to Italy to recreate the splendor of Renaissance gardens.
Iris Origo: War in the Val D’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944. This is Origo’s memories of the war years when she and her husband quietly supported Allied troops in Tuscany.
Medici MoneyTim Parks. Parks is always worth reading for his insight into the Italian character. Here he takes on the Medici family and the meaning of money in the Renaissance.
The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fallby Christopher Hibbert. Here is a sweeping multi-generational biography of these Florentine power brokers—whose homes we plan to visit.
Italian Gardensby Georgina Masson. This is a very smart yet readable history of gardens in Italy, starting with the Ancient Romans. Look for a library copy, otherwise it will cost you. Masson, by the way, wrote what is still the best guidebook to Rome.
Edith Wharton’s Italian Gardensby Vivian Russell. This is a book about What Wharton herself had to say in her book entitled Italian Villas. Expensive in book form. Reasonable on Kindle. By the way, Nancy Leszczynski, out garden guide, wrote her master’s thesis on Wharton’s essays on Italian Gardens.