by Helen C. Forrester

If you love reading and consider yourself a bookworm, don’t hesitate and read your favorite books. If we talk about the best novels to read, Italian literature holds a peculiar value in the world of literature. In this article, we are compiling a list of the best Italian novels, ranging from historical ones to fiction novels. You will find all types of Italian novels in this list, you do not have to worry about which Italian novels are a must-read for you. Here is the list of best Italian novels to read, let’s dive into the details;

1.   Andrea Camilleri: “Death in Sicily”

"Death in Sicily" by Andrea Camilleri

Written by: Andrea Camilleri

Published in: October 10, 2012

Readers must be familiar with the popular Inspector Montalbano. Camilleri created this character, it got popularity due to his unique dialect and sense of humor. “Death in Sicily” comprises the first three Montalbano chapters.

This best book series was published between 1994 and 1996. If you are a fan of suspense and unique narrative, this book series will keep you hooked. There are almost 15 volumes of Montalbano’s adventures, they are translated into English.

2.   Niccolo Ammaniti: “I’m Not Scared” 

“I’m Not Scared” by Niccolo Ammaniti

Written by: Niccolo Ammaniti

Published in: 2003

The story of this novel revolves around an imaginary village in Italy, a young Michelle who discovers a secret while playing with his friends. That secret changed his life later, you will love this amazing piece of Italian literature. It was also adapted as a story for a movie in 2003.

3.   Giorgio Scerbanenco: “Traitors to All”

"Traitors to All” by Giorgio Scerbanenco

Written by: Giorgio Scerbanenco

Published in: 1966

“Traitors to All”, part of Duca Lamberti’s quadrilogy, written by the famous Italian Noir, Giorgio Scerbanenco. Duca Lamberti writes about Milan’s murderous nights with the Aplomb. The first book in the series is translated into English as “A Private Venus.” For now, they are not available in English, they might be translated later.

4.   Alessandro Baricco: “Ocean Sea” 

“Ocean Sea” by Alessandro Baricco

Written by: Alessandro Barrico

Published in: 1993

Alessandro Barrico’s second novel got more famous than his other novels. The story of the novel revolves around the characters that move in and around the Almayer Hotel. The uncanny atmosphere and magical views add a unique beauty to the novel. If you are a fan of Angela Carter and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, you will love this novel. Barrico’s novels also became movies, both of the movies got quite popular among people.

5.   Erri De Luca: “The Day Before Happiness”

“The Day Before Happiness” by Erri De Luca

Written by: Erri De Luca

Published in: March, 2009

The storyline is set in 1950s Naples, it’s about an apartment building in the city. In the building, Don Gaetano makes friends with a young orphan. When the boy got to know him, Don Gaetano tells him about his life, love, and women. Years passed until the girl he tells about to the boy, returns to the building. Don Gaetano asks the boy to make things work between him and that girl. De Luca’s novels are available in English translation as well, grab your favorite novel now.

6.   L’amica geniale: “My Brilliant Friend”

“My Brilliant Friend” by L’amica geniale

Written by: L’amica Geniale

Published in: October, 2019

L’amica geniale “My Brilliant Friend” is one of the first series by Elena Ferrante. The story is about two girls living in the city of Naples, they try to explore the harsh and violent nature of the place they live. It was a huge success soon after its release, HBO adopted it as a TV show in 2018. The writer Ferrante was the focus of attention as her life seems to be mysterious. L’amica geniale is an absolute masterpiece if you want to read it.

7.   Italo Calvino: “The Invisible City”

“The Invisible City” by Italo Calvino

Written by: Italo Calvino Published in: 1972

Le citta invisibili “The Invisible City”, written by Italo Calvino, is one of the most popular Italian novels of the 20th century. It was published in 1972, the story is about explorer Marco Polo and how he tells Kublai Khan the tales about different cities. The novel is an absolute manifestation of the human traveling experience. Italo Calvino is known as one of the greatest fiction writers in the world. When he died, he was the most translated writer. His writings allow the readers to look at their purpose in life and their surroundings.

8.   Stefano Benni: “The Bar Beneath the Sea”

“The Bar Beneath the Sea” by Stefano Benni

Written by: Stefano Benni

Published in: 1972

II bar sotto il mare “The Bar Beneath the Sea”, a short story written by Italian author Stefano Benni. He is known for his unique humor and critical approach to modern Italy and society, his writings explore the world as well. His work is recognized by many acclaimed persons. Short stories like these are a good way of learning for Italian language learners, you can read them in one go. His stories also tell about the Italian culture and society, readers will get an insight about Italy.

9.    Umberto Eco: “The Name of the Rose”

“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco

Written by: Umberto Eco

Published in: 1980

II nome della rosa is one of the most popular novels of Italian literature in recent times. It was adapted for many television and stage shows. It is set up in 1327, the storyline is about a murder mystery that involves the Catholic Church’s history of secrets too. Umberto

Eco started his writing career from this novel. Italian describes such mystery stories as Gialli ( translated in English as Yellow. This term came from the color of book covers of mystery novels of the early 19th century.

10.   Italo Calvino: “The Baron in the Trees”

“The Baron in the Trees” by Italo Calvino

Written by: Italo Calvino

Published in: 1957

II Barone’s attention readers instantly get Alighieri’s is “The Baron in the Trees is one of the best books you can read. The story is set in 18th century Italy, a young boy in a noble family climbs into a tree with anger and refuses to get down. When his parents did not listen to his concerns, he decided to live his life in the branches of trees and away from society. He then grabs the attention of people from all around the world. This humorous tale is the second one in a trilogy of Calvino’s novels “I nostri antenati ( Our Ancestors).

11.   Niccolo Ammaniti: “I Am Not Afraid”

“I Am Not Afraid” by Niccolo Ammaniti

Written by: Niccolo Ammaniti

Published in: 2001

Io non ho paura “I Am Not Afraid” is written by Niccolo Ammaniti. This novel is set in southern Italy in the 1970s. The storyline is full of suspense, the interesting story will keep the readers hooked. The simplified language will make the novel understood by beginners in reading Italian literature. If anyone is learning about the Italian language, this novel might prove helpful.

12.   Andrea Camilleri: “The Shape of Water”

“The Shape of Water” by Andrea Camilleri

Written by: Andrea Camilleri

Published in: 1994 

La Forma dell’Acqua’s “The Shape of Water”, is another mystery story that gets the attention of the readers instantly. It is the first one in the series of books by Andrea Camilleri as his writings involve investigations in the fictional Italian town.

Even though it is written in the Italian language, you will find bits of Sicilian dialect and grammar as well. The stories of Inspector Montalbano got so popular in Italy, adapted as many Italian shows, and received appraisal from critics.

13.   Dante Alighieri “The Divine Comedy”

“The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri

Written by: Dante Alighieri Published in: 2009

Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy’’ is the most acclaimed Italian novel to that date. The story is written in a poetic narrative and was completed in 1320, it describes the idea of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.  It modified the Italian language and preserved the art of Italy. If you are eager to read about the afterlife, you will find this novel a masterpiece.

14.   Alessandro Manzoni: “The Betrothed”

 “The Betrothed" by Alessandro Manzoni

Written by: Alessandro Manzoni

Published in: 1827

This novel is a 17th-century love story of Renzo and Lucia, who faced difficulty in getting married and were then forced to flee. Society was going into destruction due to war, revolution, and disease. It holds the same value as the writings of Dante and is known as one of the greatest European novels.

15.   Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: “The Leopard”

“The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Written by: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Published in: 1958

An amazing novel that spins around the Italian unity and destruction of nobility in the town of Sicily. It is the story of a dying aristocracy that is on the verge of destruction. It is set in the 1860s and focuses on the Sicilian prince who is determined to get all the wealth and power.

16.    Ernesto de Martino: “The Land of Remorse”

“The Land of Remorse” by Ernesto de Martino

Written by: Ernesto de Martino 

Published in: 1961

If you are a fan of Puglia, Ernesto de Martino’s land of remorse is the best. The book was originally written as an anthropological field study, the significance of tarantella and Taratism with women. They keep dancing in a rhythm to prevent the spiders from biting them. A unique story and well-written novel, readers will enjoy the tales.

17.   Guido Piovene: “Viaggio In Italia”

 “Viaggio In Italia” by Guido Piovene

Written by: Guido Piovene

Published in: 1958

Viaggio In Italia, a story about a journalist who toured Italy in 1957 and describes the wide regional differences and unique characteristics. The story depicts a new way of Italy and its culture, but it is not yet translated into English.

18.   Umberto Eco: “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana”

“The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana” by 18.   Umberto Eco

Written by: Umberto Eco

Published in: 2004

When Umberto Eco wrote “The Name of the Rose”, he became a sensation. This novel is about a man who is searching for his lost memory. The main character Yambo is on the path, the interesting narrative fairly rips by. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is well-written attention readers instantly get ist is interesting and liked by readers as well.

19.   Elsa Morante: “Arturo’s Island”

 “Arturo’s Island” by Elsa Morante

Written by: Elsa Morante

Published in: 1957

Arturo’s Island is an amazing novel about a young boy, who grows up in jail for convicted crimes in the Bay of Naples. How she describes Southern Italy and other details, readers will find themselves hooked.

20.   Dario Fo: My First Seven Years “Plus a Few More”

 My First Seven Years “Plus a Few More” by Dario Fo

Written by: Dario Fo

Published in: 2004

My First Seven Years is a unique depiction of Dario’s youth, he spends his childhood in Northern Italy. When he was a child, he was living in a village and teamed up with smugglers and storytellers. He recalls the day of his youth, encounters with Fascists, World War II, and his experience of leaving the army. This novel is one of the best novels of Dario Fo, filled with creative imagination and a unique way of storytelling.

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