Five Books That Helped Me Discover and Love My Italian Heritage

These days we spend so much time worrying about the everyday stuff, like work, school, bills, social events... just trying to connect with what goes on around us, and so we forget to connect with ourselves.

Putting this list together was me re-connecting with the Italian heritage within me. I picked these books on Italy because they're classics which I still own, because they influenced me when I read them, and they still influence me today.

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The Little World Of Don Camillo

by Giovanni Guareschi, translated by Una Vincenzo Troubridge

This is a delightful story about a priest and a communist who live in a little town in Italy. It is easy to read, funny and filled with message. They fight each other trying to gain their own flock of people, and in the end, although opposites, their humanity wins. I read it the first time when I was 14 years old, and it stayed with me for life, making me a fan of the whole series.


The Sicilian

by Mario Puzo

I love this book not only because it sparked my interest in learning more about Sicily, but also because I got to experience a Sicilian man’s point of view and it presented aspects of my father’s culture that helped me understand him a little more. All of this while enjoying a compelling story about a real Sicilian hero of the 1940s era!


Heart: A School-Boy's Journal

by Edmondo De Amicis

I had to study Heart in Italian Literature when I was in the seventh grade... it is a journal of an Italian young boy, where he expresses happenings and feelings while at school. But, as a girl, I identified with it the same. Growing up in an Italian Catholic Missionary school, Heart (or Cuore) felt almost like my own journal. My love for reading was born… I still have the copy I read during that time.


Letter to a Child Never Born

by Oriana Fallaci

Oriana Fallaci' book not only gave me a new perspective on life, on how fragile we are, and on how worked up we get about issues that are really personal, but it also introduced me to Italian womanhood. This book was given to me by a very old lady who owned a tiny book store in Maracaibo, Venezuela. I remember her and my mother debating whether or not I was ready for this book; I was thirteen, and had no relationship with my mother. My mother purchased the book for me and as I read it, I realized how little I knew her and how much I wanted to get to know her.


The Postman

by Antonio Skármeta, translated by Katherine Silver

Il Postino is one of my favorites romances of all times! Although the setting is in Chile, Skarmeta’s main character Mario embodies Italian traits such as simplicity in life, and passion in love... traits I fell for when I met my husband of 19 years!