Five books to transport you to the Italian Riviera this summer CB News

With its sun-drenched olive groves, sparkling waters and bursts of vibrant color, the Italian Riviera has bewitched tourists, painters and authors since the 19th century. Located in northwest Italy, the Riviera stretches along the Ligurian Sea and has inspired artists like painter Monet and writers Percy Bysshe Shelley and Ernest Hemingway.

Thanks to the sunny climate, crystal clear waters and beautiful villages lining its coastline, the Italian Riviera has long been the playground of the rich and famous, where you’re as likely to spot a super yacht as you are a fishing boat.

For those who dream of the Riviera but don’t have a Kardashian’s budget — or the patience for airport queues — here are five books to get you there instantly. Or, if you’re lucky enough to go, these books will really come to life in your surroundings.

1. Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim (1922)


Vintage Classics

Enchanted April may turn 100 this year, but it remains a timeless classic. Written by Elizabeth von Arnim in Portofino, it follows four very different women who are fed up with their lives in dreary, gray London and yearn for a vacation. After responding to an ad in The Times, which caters to “those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine”, they find themselves sharing a small medieval castle by the Mediterranean for a life-changing month.

When Lottie Wilkins, the novel’s most endearing protagonist, opens her balcony doors to find “all the radiance of April in Italy gathered at her feet”, the reader is there with her, thanks to the evocative and often sensual descriptions of von Arnim on the castle. Edenic garden. Between roses, wild thyme and honey-scented irises, these women find friendship and rediscover love in a novel full of kindness, affection and hope.

Eric Newby wrote his love letter to Italy – and his wife, Wanda – based on diary entries he kept while fleeing advancing German forces after the Italian armistice of 1943. Having seen nothing but barbed wire and walls for a year as a prisoner of war, Newby is so enchanted by the landscape of the Ligurian hills – the swifts swooping over the water, the cathedrals of trees — that despite the danger, he can’t help but strip down and jump into a hidden lake before taking a nap in the hot sun. Newby’s prose will cast a similar spell on the reader as she follows her shelter and protection by an informal network of local Italians, one of whom would become his wife.

After a little too much wine and a moonlit visit to an abandoned cottage in the Ligurian hills, Annie Hawes finds herself in possession of a house, two wells and an olive grove – all for just £2,000 . Her affectionate and often laughed-out account of the move is based on the stories she told her friends each time she was forced to return to London to earn more money. Combining memoir, travel and food writing, Hawes brings his experience to life with descriptions of “tough old men on erratic Vespas” and “rusty tin cans filled with incredibly healthy geraniums”. There’s also an endless stream of mouth-watering antipasti – all made with that essential Ligurian ingredient, olive oil.

A lemon on a book cover

penguin

Attlee remembers the first time she made the trip from England to Italy, 35 years before The Land Where Lemons Grow was published. Waking up and realizing that her train had crossed the border, she looked out the window to see lemons growing on the station platform, somewhere along the Italian Riviera. This youth trip fueled his passion for these “little hot suns” that warm the palms and charge the landscape. Written years later, his trip from Tuscany to Mount Etna, tracing their history, will have you staring at your supermarket lemon in disappointment – and booking a flight.

Made famous by Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film of the same name, this novel is special. When handsome research assistant Oliver comes to spend the summer with teenager Elio’s family, the attraction between them is instantaneous and inseparable from the warmth and languor of their Ligurian surroundings. Aciman claims that the novel originated when he dreamed of an Italian villa overlooking the sea one morning in April; much of his novel looks exactly like that – a poignant, sunny, and often heartbreaking fever dream that is hard to wake up from.

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