Get all smart and stuff with a little advance Rome reading. We've selected five books for you here, by storied authors like Christopher Hibbert, H.V. Morton, Susan Cahill, Bruno Munari and a fellow named Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Reading Up on Rome
1. Rome: The Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert
Hibbert traces Rome's history, from the Romulus and Remus myth of its early days, to the empire, the fall of the city, the rise of religion's influence and up through more familiar recent history. Illustrated and bursting with maps and diagrams, this is the book for those who want their Roman history complete with art and architecture.
2. A Traveller in Rome by H.V. Morton
Visit 1950s Rome, the period of La Dolce Vita, through the tales and anecdotes of H.V. Morton. His descriptions of monuments and famous locations are not to be missed. But what will probably ring truest with budget travelers are Morton's tales of fantasy Italy crashing painfully into Italy as it actually exists (read the first couple of pages of A Traveller in Rome on amazon.com to see what we mean).
3. The Smiles of Rome by Susan Cahill
Susan Cahill presents collection of stories, essays, poems and other writings about Rome, from voices both ancient and modern. The writers included in this volume may surprise you with their impressions, points of view and words of wisdom.
4. Speak Italian: The Fine Art of Gesture by Bruno Munari
Learn what all those hand gestures really mean. Few are as rude as you might suspect, and the illustrations might just help you figure out what the locals are silently saying. Finally, an invaluable social aid!
5. A Violent Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini
One of modern Italy's great cultural figures, Pasolini was a poet, filmmaker, thinker and ardent Marxist. This novel follows young Tommaso, a street kid who falls in with many variations of "the wrong crowd" until a stint in prison convinces him to clean up his act.
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