Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

ISSIMO Booklist: Emilia Romagna

It’s very easy to fall in love with Emilia Romagna, and no one knows that better than the poets and writers who grew up nourished on the bountiful culture of the region.  From Pascal’s poetry to Lucarelli’s thrillers, the heralded cities and landscapes of Emilia Romagna make the best settings for a late afternoon read.

Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini

“The Garden of the Finzi-Continsi”
by Giorgio Bassani

The tale of wealthy, insular Jewish family in Fascist Italy at the brink of World War II.

Jack Frusciante è Uscito dal Gruppo

“Jack Frusciante Has Left the Band”
by Enrico Brizzi

A love story about Alex D. is in his penultimate year in a snobby  Bologna high school, considered  the Catcher in the Rye of the 90’s.

Selected Poems

by Giovanni Pascoli

Pascoli was the founder of modern Italian poetry, noted for his bucolic settings and the way he bridges poetic tradition and the beginnings of modernism. His poetry transports the read through Italy’s landscapes  in particular Romagna and Bologna.


“The Heron“
by Giorgio Bassani

Bassani’s portrait of a middle-aged man’s reckoning with his life in Ferrara.

Orlando Furioso

by Ludovico Ariosto

Written in 1516 and completed in 1532, Orlando Furioso (Raging Roland or The Frenzy of Roland) is Ariosto’s chivalric poem of love and war – and most likely inspiration for Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing


by Tonino Guerra

A nameless graphic designer is haunted by the concentration camp in which he was once interned.

Don Camillo Mondo Piccolo

“The Complete Little World of Don Camillo“
by Giovannino Guareschi

Enchanting, wise and peculiar tales follow the everyday adventures of the hot-headed Don Camillo.

Canale Mussolini

“The Mussolini Canal“
by Antonio Pennacchi

Century-spanning story about the poverty-stricken Peruzzi family and their migration from Emilia Romagna to Mussolini’s  Pontine marshes.

Almost Blue

by Carlo Lucarelli

A serial killer is terrorising the students of Bologna. Enough said.

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