Uncovering the Best Travel Books for Italy [2019]

Italy travel guide book

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Looking for an Italy travel guide book to help you plan your trip? There are many options to choose from so we rounded up those that delivered the best information for planning, insight into the destinations you want to visit and those that added a little something extra.

Guidebooks are an important resource to help you plan your travels to Italy. Usually thoroughly researched and detailed, they offer a great starting point as you begin your initial trip planning. As you begin to firm up your itinerary you can also check back for tips on logistics and general information prior to arrival.

Fortunately, there’s a host of high-quality Italy travel books out there, and we’re here to tell you which are best, including guides for specific cities and regions. All of these books are available in print or digital formats depending on your preference.

3 Best Italian Travel Guides

best italy travel guide book


Rick Steves Italy

Rick Steves is the go-to guy when it comes to travel in Europe.

For almost half a century he has spent ⅓ of every year traveling around Europe, and he’s made it his mission to make travel in Europe accessible to Americans. 

Rick Steves’ guide to Italy is easy to read and full of useful information, from travel tips and recommendations to history and cultural insights.

It covers popular attractions as well as off-the-beaten-track gems, and is perhaps the best travel book for Italy.

As a general rule, Rick Steves is selective about the places he includes. His guides may not cover every destination in Italy, but the places that are included are well worth visiting. This book delves deep into Rome, Milan, Tuscany, Naples, Venice, and Sorrento, amongst others. 

It is, however, missing information on several key areas of Italy, such as Sicily, Puglia, Basilicata, Sardinia, Piedmont, and Matera. As such, it may not be ideal if you’re planning a trip around the whole of Italy or any of the aforementioned destinations.

That being said, his philosophy is to include places based on their worthiness rather than popularity or fame. So if you don’t have an Itinerary for your Italian adventure, following Rick’s guide certainly won’t leave you disappointed!

This guide is best suited to first-time travelers and has a focus on making the entire experience less intimidating. Rick’s writing is soaked with passion and enthusiasm.  This is a guy who lives for travel, and his love for it certainly shines through!

>> Buy Rick Steves Italy on Amazon


Lonely Planet Italy

Lonely Planet is the gold-standard when it comes to travel guide publishers, and they’ve been crafting world-class guides for decades.

Lonely Planet’s Italy guide is amazing when it comes to day-to-day travel tips and advice, such as where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around.

You’ll also find plenty of interesting information on Italy’s history and culture and insider tips that will help you save money and time.

It contains detailed itineraries and allows you to tailor your trip to suit your interests, making it a strong contender for the best Italy guide book. 

Lonely Planet’s guide is broader than the Rick Steves alternative, covering more of the country. As a result, the guides on specific cities and towns are more condensed, and so offer a bit less detail. This guide isn’t especially visual, but it does feature a good amount of color images and plenty of maps throughout!

While this guide is great for those traveling on any kind of budget, it is particularly well suited for low-budget and mid-range travel. Backpackers and independent travelers will love it most, but it’s a great resource for any kind of traveler.

The 2020 version promises all the benefits of the current edition, as well as some new and updated features. 

>> Buy Lonely Planet Italy on Amazon


DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Italy

DK Eyewitness travel guides give you the best picture coverage of any guide book. Through its compelling images, this travel guide transports you to your destination before you’ve even left, giving you a tantalizing taste of what’s to come!

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Italy includes all of the basics and is undoubtedly one of the best travel guidebooks for Italy. 

It includes fully planned out Itineraries and detailed histories to helpful tips, suggestions, and information.

DK Eyewitness books have a keen focus on culture, art, and architecture, and this one is particularly visual, featuring amazing photographs and hand-drawn color pictures. DK’s guides tend to concentrate more on ‘see’ rather than ‘do’.

DK Eyewitness has a less personal feel than Rick Steves and is more focused on facts and histories than personalized suggestions. It mostly covers major tourist attractions, but covers them well and in detail. 

You’ll find maps, birds-eye images, and beautiful illustrations of famous landmarks’ interiors. This travel guide is amazing if you’re a dreamer who enjoys visualizing your trip and finding inspiration before you leave. 

>> Buy DK Eyewitness Italy on Amazon


Top Guides for Rome

rome travel guide book


Rick Steves Pocket Rome

 Rick Steves Pocket Rome is packed with everything you need to know about the Eternal city. You’ll find fascinating histories and cultural information alongside recommendations, helpful tips, useful information, and on-the-ground travel insights.

Rick offers his advice on how you should prioritize your time in Rome during a visit of any length, whether it be a day or a week.

As the title suggests, this guide is small enough to easily carry around as you explore, and can be tucked away in a pocket when not in use.

The book also includes promo codes for tours; if you take a couple of them, you could easily save more than the cost of the book, making this an extremely cost-effective purchase. 

As with all of Rick’s guides, Pocket Rome’s writing style has a personal touch. It contains insights that could only be curated by such a seasoned traveler.

>> Buy Rick Steves Pocket Rome on Amazon


DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Rome 

 The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Rome is a great tool for planning a trip to Rome. It offers itineraries for different length stays and includes sections for different kinds of travelers, such as art lovers, foodies, families, and architectural admirers.

This can help tailor your experience to suit your interests. It also contains a healthy amount of history and cultural information, alongside some helpful tips and suggestions.

It is an exceptionally visual book, with beautiful color images dominating pretty much every page. This, again, allows your mind to wander through Rome before you’ve left home, and is a great source of inspiration when planning your trip!

This guide is best suited to those who wish to see the main, popular sights of Rome and anyone who has a keen eye for aesthetics.

>> Buy DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Rome on Amazon


Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome 

 This guide book was written by Corinna Cooke, a private tour guide who has been traveling to Rome for several decades. She is exceptionally well experienced and knowledgeable, and pours it all out onto Glam Italia! Rome’s 394 pages.

The book has a distinct focus on avoiding the tourist crowds and absorbing a side of Rome that is less traveled. Corinna details the best sights, markets, and experiences, sharing insightful travel tips along the way. Amongst the tips and suggestions, you’ll find quirky illustrations, fun stories, interesting facts, and history.

This guide will give you a truly unique and enjoyable experience of Rome, and is best suited to those who want to explore off the beaten track. We think it’s one of the best travel books for Italy.

>> Buy Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome on Amazon


Blue Guide Rome 

 Blue Guide Rome is almost encyclopedic, overflowing with information on just about every corner of Rome. Co-authored by an art historian, it truly contains a wealth of information on the city’s history, art, culture, and architecture, with an unparalleled level of detail. 

The book’s writing style conveys intelligence and deep knowledgeable understanding, and is the perfect guide for travelers who like to dig deep into culture and history!

It is, however, a little light on visuals as well as practical tips and suggestions, and so may not be ideal for first-time travelers. 

>> Buy Blue Guide Rome on Amazon


Top Guides for Florence and Tuscany 

florence travel guide book


DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Florence and Tuscany 

 DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Florence and Tuscany is an easy to use travel tool that, just like other DK Eyewitness Guides, is strongly visual. It offers useful travel tips and practical information alongside cultural and historical context. 

The color-coded chapters make navigating the guide a breeze, and the book is packed with plenty of user-friendly maps. There’s even a large pullout map of Florence tucked inside.

Expect exploded illustrations of key sights as well as gorgeous images that will whet your travel appetite like no other guide book. Perfect for lovers of all things visual, this book offers an inspiring taste of Florence and the rest of Tuscany.

>> Buy DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Florence and Tuscany on Amazon


Tuscany, Italy: Small-town Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler 

 This travel guide for Tuscany takes you on a journey to discover the highly-celebrated Tuscan cuisine, exploring the region’s gorgeous historic sights, natural beauty, and vibrant culture along the way. 

The book aims to go beyond what one finds as a typical tourist, emphasizing interaction with locals, and slowing down to learn about and appreciate your surroundings.

It provides travel tips and information, making recommendations for places to stay and visit beyond culinary establishments. But if you’re a foodie traveler, this is without a doubt one of the best Italy travel guides for you!

>> Buy Tuscany, Italy: Small-town Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler on Amazon


Best Regional Travel Guides for Italy

amalfi coast travel book

Rick Steves Pocket Venice

 Rick’s Steves Pocket Venice is a fantastic, compact guide to Venice, that comprehensively breaks down the city in order to help you get the most out of your trip. You’ll find the usual travel tips, recommendations, and information, including some history and cultural insights.

It’s more visual than his Italy guide, with color images scattered throughout. There’s also a large pullout map of the city, which comes in particularly handy when exploring the maze that is Venice. 

It contains some great walking tours through the city, as well as some downloadable audio tours. Rick’s passion for European travel is once again conveyed through the book’s personal writing style. 

Pocket Venice is great option for anyone who wants to avoid Venice’s tourist traps and travel the city with insider information.

>> Buy Rick Steves Pocket Venice on Amazon


Rick Steves Snapshot Naples & the Amalfi Coast: Including Pompeii 

 This Rick Steves guide is the perfect companion for those planning a trip to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. With detailed suggestions on where to go and what to see, as well as first-hand advice on accommodation, food, and nightlife.

The guide covers the main sights and destinations, including Vesuvius, Pompeii, Amalfi Town, and Positano. You’ll find detailed maps as well as some black and white images. Featuring Rick’s usual writing style, this book helps you travel like a local, and provides a good amount of historical context.

This is a great option for those who want the advice of an experienced traveler to heighten their explorations of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.

>> Buy Rick Steves Snapshot Naples & the Amalfi Coast on Amazon


Lonely Planet Sicily 

 As with all Lonely Planet guides, Lonely Planet Sicily is packed full of helpful on-the-ground travel tips.

This book allows you to get to the heart of the region and helps you to get around the island like a local. It’s great for exploring the main sights and attractions, as well as for discovering hidden gems.

Amongst several other destinations, it covers the Aeolian Islands, Western and Central Sicily, Palmero, and much of the region’s extensive coastline.

The writing is practical and useful, and the guide is well suited to adventurous travelers who want to dive into Sicily, head first.

>> Buy Lonely Planet Sicily on Amazon 


Choosing the best Italy Travel Book for your trip

best italy travel book

When selecting the best Italy travel guide for your preferences and interests, there are several important considerations you should take into account. 

Some guidebooks are more focused on pragmatic hands-on information, often in the form of tips and advice. Some favor a more informational approach with a focus on providing historical and cultural context to the sights and destinations. 

You’ll find that some guidebooks tend to be more visual, with plenty of images and diagrams and less written content, while others are text-heavy and rich in information. Others include handy extras such as maps. 

It’s important that you check the publication date of the Italy travel book you’re considering. We live in a world of constant change; more recent guidebooks will have more current information and are more likely to be useful.

Also, be sure to check the table of contents so that you can compare the areas covered in the guide to the list of areas you would like to visit.

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We hope this guide to the best Italy guidebooks has given you some useful insights and helped you make an informed decision. We’ve curated this list with every traveler in mind, and we’re sure that you’ll find something that suits you and your Itinerary!

Choosing the right guide book can really make a visit to Italy special, and, no matter which book you choose, we hope you have a wonderful adventure.

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