Our Book Recommendations
Since first visiting Puglia over 10 years ago, we've curated a list of interesting Puglia- and Italy-related reading which we are often asked about and are more than happy to share here. Enjoy.
Our Book Picks
"See You in the Piazza" - Frances Mayes
Bestselling and beloved author Frances Mayes discovers the hidden pleasures of Italy in a sumptuous travel narrative that crisscrosses the country, with inventive new recipes celebrating Italian cuisine
"Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil" - Tom Mueller
For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life’s necessities―not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious rituals. But this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt. A superbly crafted combination of cultural history and food manifesto, Extra Virginity takes us on a journey through the world of olive oil, opening our eyes to olive oil’s rich past as well as to the fierce contemporary struggle between oil fraudsters of the globalized food industry and artisan producers whose oil truly deserves the name "extra virgin."
"Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy" - Chris Harrison
A whitewashed fishing village, a shapely signorina and an infatuated young man - head over heels on the heel of the boot of Southern Italy. This is Chris Harrison's hilarious and captivating story of leaving his previous life for La Dolce Vita - that quintessentially Italian seductive way of life, with its luscious foods, physical beauty and sun-drenched vistas.
"Pan' e Pomodor - My Passage To Puglia" -
Ian R. McEwan
When the journey began we didn't expect to buy a derelict "torretta" and a 10 acre olive farm in the Gargano, Puglia. My wife's father "escaped" from the village and lifestyle of Vico del Gargano. Each year he would return with his family for August and later, we too visited Vico each summer.
"Heel To Toe - Encounters in the South of Italy"
Having walked down the Appian Way for his acclaimed book Between Two Seas, Charles Lister found himself irresistibly drawn to the land of contrasts that is the extreme south of Italy. Lister had planned to travel by bicycle, but an Italian said he was mad and insisted he take his moped. He travelled extensively, as engaged by the wines of the region and the beauty of the local women as by the plethora of temples and the weight of history.
"Matera - From the Sassi to the New City"
Guide - Matera from the Sassi to the new city There have been many guides and illustrated books about the Sassi of Matera. Some are estimable products of studies and researches that describe the birth and the evolution of the unique hamlet that the Sassi of Matera represent. This handbook, on the other hand, is not so ambitious as the others, and does not offer unpublished assertions on the origins and on the history of these ancient quarters. But while reading through it, it is immediately clear what the Sassi are, what they represented in the past and what they represent today for the city of Matera
"Christ Stopped at Eboli"
Exiled to a remote and barren corner of Italy for his opposition to Mussolini, Carlo Levi entered a world cut off from history and the state, hedged in by custom and sorrow, without comfort or solace, where, eternally patient, the peasants lived in an age-old stillness and in the presence of death - for Christ did stop at Eboli.
"About Italy - Puglia to the Po"
David P. Hume
David Hume's latest travelogue explores the lesser known towns in Italy, including Padua, Torino, Parma, Bologna, Perugia, and many more. He shares his descriptions of ancient cathedrals, fascinating local histories, and bottles of Chianti.
"Impressions of Southern Italy: British Travel Writing from Henry Swinburne to Norman Douglas" - Sharon Outditt
Naples was conventionally the southernmost stop of the Grand Tour beyond which, it was assumed, lay violent disorder: earthquakes, malaria, bandits, inhospitable inns, few roads and appalling food. On the other hand, Southern Italy lay at the heart of Magna Graecia, whose legends were hard-wired into the cultural imaginations of the educated.
"The Dolce Vita Diaries"
Cathy Rogers & Jason Gibb
In 2005, Cathy and Jason threw in successful careers as TV presenters and producers to become olive farmers in Italy. With their one year old daughter and Italian dictionary in tow, they found themselves in the middle of a European nowhere untouched by modernity.
They were on a steep learning curve in more-or-less everything – finding out how to prune an olive tree so that a sparrow can pass through its branches, learning what beauty products are de rigeur in the changing rooms of a local Italian football team, being trained, by a local Italian choir, how to sing in English but with an Italian accent – and learning the rigorous rules of when one is allowed to consume a cappuccino. Armed with their indefatigable love of food, they headed off many a potentially tricky situation by cooking their way out of it, a sure route to the heart of any Italian.
"Soul of the Heel: A funny thing happened on
the way to Puglia"
There is an old Yiddish proverb that Scott and Jessica would have done well to heed. Mensch tracht, und Gott lacht. Man plans and God laughs. They thought that quitting their jobs, leaving a comfortable penthouse in Pittsburgh, saying good-bye to family, friends, and their mother tongue and moving to a little olive farm in Puglia, the “heel of the boot,” would be as easy as breaking a really expensive wine glass. And God laughed.
"Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy" - Mark Tedesco
Two Californians colliding with the culture of the extreme south of Italy can be amusing and intriguing. We came to understand that the stories surrounding each town, building, field, and person animate the stones as much as the people in Puglia. An olive tree is not only a plant, a cathedral is not just a building, and an expat is not just a foreigner."