The Best Italian Novels to Learn Italian

Literature is a fundamental point for the Italian culture and we sure can count on an incredible number of writers that through the years have moved and entertained thousands of readers.

Discovering the Italian language can be simpler if we start reading the original editions of the most significant “made in Italy” books. That’s why we want to suggest you a few Italian novels to start with.

For Children

Le Avventure Di Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi

Aimed at Basic level

This is a classic Italian novel loved by every child in Italy. It’s the story of Pinocchio, a wooden marionette that comes alive, and its father Geppetto, a poor woodcarver.

“Le Avventure di Pinocchio” is one of the most translated non-religious books in the world and the character of Pinocchio is considered a metaphor for the human condition.

Read it if you want to go back to your childhood. Find it here.

Favole al telefono – Gianni Rodari

Aimed at Intermediate level

Gianni Rodari is one of the most famous Italian writers for children who, back in 1970, also won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s literature.

Favole al Telefono” is a collection of fables where the main protagonist calls his child every night to tell her a short story.

Read it if you can’t sleep at night.

Italian Classics of the 20th Century

Il Fu Mattia Pascal – Luigi Pirandello

Aimed at intermediate level

Il fu Mattia Pascal” is the first success of Luigi Pirandello, dramatist, novelist, and Italian poet who also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934.

This novel is about the new life of Mattia Pascal, who decides to change his identity when he discovers that his wife and his mother-in-law have announced his death.

Read it if you’re fascinated by different personalities and sophisticated humor.

Il Nome Della Rosa – Umberto Eco

Aimed at the advanced level

Il nome della Rosais the first novel by Umberto Eco, one of the most important contemporary philosophers in Italy. It is a historical crime novel set in an Italian monastery in 1327 where the death of Adelmo, an illuminator, shocks the balance of the entire community.

Read it if you want to be entertained by a five-hundred-page book.

Marcovaldo Ovvero Le Stagioni In Città – Italo Calvino

Aimed at intermediate level

This is a collection of twenty short stories (all based on a different season) where the character of Marcovaldo discovers everyday life in an unknown Italian big city (probably Turin).

Read it if you search for nature in everything. Buy the book here.

Crime Books

Inspector Montalbano Books – Andrea Camilleri

Aimed at the advanced level

A one-of-a-kind series based on the adventures of Salvo Montalbano, a police chief in a small town in Sicily.

Italians are literally in love with Montalbano thanks to the lucky TV series that is currently airing on national TV.

Read it if you want to be captured by peculiar characters and if you’re prepared to learn words in Sicilian dialect.

Gomorra – Roberto Saviano

Aimed at the advanced level

In this book, Roberto Saviano describes the organized crime world in the city of Naples.

All the stories are based on real facts, which is why the author has been under police protection since the publication of the book.

Read it if you want to know more about real Italian crime. Buy the book on Amazon.

Romantic Books

Seta – Alessandro Baricco

Aimed at intermediate level

Seta” is a novel based on a romantic story between a French silkworm merchant and the concubine of a Japanese baron written by Alessandro Baricco. Light and fluid, “Seta” is also a travel-themed novel where relationships will conquer you for sure. We suggest you take a look at a beautifully illustrated version of “Seta” by Rébecca Dautremer.

Read it if you want to travel with your imagination.

Eva  – Giovanni Verga

Aimed at intermediate level

This novel by Giovanni Verga (one of the most important representatives of Verismo -realism- in Italian literature) takes place right here in Florence and tells the story of a painter who falls in love with a dancer at La Pergola Theatre. That’s a troubled love, full of jealousy and problems.
Read it if you want to find love in this amazing city!

Find it here.

Contemporary novels

Io Non Ho Paura – Niccolò Ammaniti

Aimed at intermediate level

This suspenseful Crime novel is set in the southern Italian countryside in the 1970s, where nine-year-old Michele stumbles across a secret so terrible that nobody can find out.

With themes involving adolescence, friendship and solidarity between human beings, the relationship between the world of adults and children, and family and evil.

The story is written from 2 points of view: one through the boy’s how he perceives the world and secondly, the tragedy involving the adults of this isolated community.

It gained recognition from the Viareggio Prize for fiction and in 2003, the highly successful film directed by Gabriele Salvatores was made.

L’amica geniale – Elena Ferrante

Aimed to advanced level

The first volume of a highly successful literary series, L’amica Geniale is a coming-of-age and sentimental novel that follows the story of two girls, their friendship, and their growth in a suburban neighborhood of Naples, in southern Italy, in the 1950s and 1960s.

A television series was later released inspired by the novel in 2017!

Receive free resources to learn Italian

Join more than 40’000 students!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top