Read these picture books about Italy before your family heads to Rome, Florence, Venice, or Milan for your next family vacation. Planning a homeschool unit about Italian geography or history? These would make a great addition to the curriculum.
Fun Fact: I was lucky enough to live in Milan for almost a year after I graduated from college.
Those were some of the most exciting days of my life and I dream about the day when I can bring my kids over to Italy and show them all my favorite spots in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan.
Since it will be a while before I can make that trip happen, the next best thing is reading these picture books about Italy with my kids and sharing my love of that fantastic country.
The books on this list cover all kinds of fun Italian subjects:
- All the major Italian cities are covered: Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan
- Italian food: Books about everyone's favorite Italian dishes including pasta, pizza, and gelato
- Famous Italian historical figures, artists, and musicians
- Italian history
- Major Italian landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City
If you're planning a homeschool unit on Italian history or geography, you might also want to include these fun activities:
- Plan an easy Italian dinner and let your kids cook the meal!
- Try making a homemade tiramisu with my easy recipe.
- Watch a movie set in Italy with your kids.
However, if you're looking for information for yourself before a big trip to Italy, don't miss my list of travel books about Italy for grown-ups:
25 Books About Italy for Kids
Planning a family trip to Italy? Whether you're visiting Rome, Venice, Florence, or Milan, read these fantastic books about Italy for kids before you go!
When Strega Nona leaves him alone with her magic pasta pot, Big Anthony is determined to show the townspeople how it works in this classic Caldecott Honor book from Tomie dePaola.
Strega Nona—“Grandma Witch”—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town.
Her magical ever-full pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.
In this beloved classic picture book, Tomie dePaola retells and illustrates an Italian Christmas folk tale, breathing warmth and humanity into the character of the lonely Old Befana and her endless search for the Christ Child.
Every morning and every afternoon, Old Befana sweeps with her broom. “Cranky old lady,” the children say. “She is always sweeping!” Sweep, sweep, sweep.
But when a brilliant star glows in the eastern sky one night, and Old Befana encounters the glorious procession of three kings on their way to Bethlehem, her world will never be the same.
As the loyal first mate to gondolier Nicola, Sandro knows everything about his home, the beautiful city of Venice. Sandro and Nicola go everywhere together. But today, Sandro is venturing out on his own for the first time. He is on a very important secret mission!
What is Sandro up to? And what friends will he meet along the way?
This is Rome, first published in 1960, traces the history of Roman civilization to bring to life the Rome of the 60's. Sasek navigates Rome's busy, winding streets to visit such glorious historical landmarks as the statues of Michelangelo, Vatican City, the Pantheon, and the Fontana di Trevi-and to show us the eccentricities of modern Roman life, from its colorful trains, trams, and taxis to its chic espresso bars and pasta houses.
This is Venice, first published in 1961, presents indelible impressions of romantic, watery Venice, where under a brilliant blue sky Sasek the gondolier navigates the winding canals to visit such famous and glorious landmarks as the Palazzo Grassi, Piazza San Marco, Doges Palace, and the Accademia di Belle Arti.
The first pop-up book on Florence. Dario Cestaro's spectacular drawings and paper architecture reveal Florence and its treasures in a pop-up book telling the city's history with straightforward texts and interesting facts.
This fascinating journey in colored pages shaped into Florence's most celebrated landmarks will help even younger children to recognize the main buildings: the cathedral with its famous ogival dome; the Palazzo Vecchio with its great tower and crenellated walls; the Palazzo Pitti, once the Medicis' majestic ducal residence; the Ponte Vecchio, the iconic bridge over the Arno with its historic craft shops; the Church of Santa Croce, which contains tombs and monuments to many illustrious persons (Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo).
The first pop-up book on Milan, a 3D guide for children and adults. Milan revealed by the spectacular paper architecture of Dario Cestaro, in a pop-up book that recounts the city's history in simple texts and curious anecdotes. A fascinating journey through colorful pages that turn into Milan's most famous buildings, helping even the youngest of readers to recognize its principal landmarks: the Duomo, with its soaring spires; the Castello Sforzesco, with its imposing battlement walls; the Teatro alla Scala, temple of opera; the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, a medieval treasure chest dedicated to the city's patron saint; the Stazione Centrale, with its daring vaults of iron and glass; and the city's new skyline, redesigned by skyscrapers over 200 meters in height.
Olivia takes her discerning eye for style to beautiful Venice on a family vacation that involves dodging pigeons in the Piazza San Marco, gorging on gelato, and barely staying afloat in a gondola.
Paolo the dachshund is trapped. Though he lives in Rome, a city filled with history and adventure, he is confined to a hair salon. Paolo dreams of the sweet life—la dolce vita—in the Eternal City.
And then, one day, he escapes! Paolo throws himself into the city, finding adventure at every turn.
Join our hero as he discovers the wonders of Rome: the ruins, the food, the art, the opera, and—of course—the cats. Readers will cheer the daring of this bighearted dog, whose story shows that even the smallest among us can achieve great things.
Maria grew up in Italy at a time when girls didn't receive an equal education to boys. But Maria's mother was supportive of her dreams, and Maria went on to study medicine.
She later became an early childhood expert—founding schools with her revolutionary educational theories and changing the lives of many children.
This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the educator's life.
Piero, a page in the Medici court in fifteenth-century Florence, hunts through the palazzo for his father and finds him helping the artist Michelangelo sculpt a snowman.
The tour of the Renaissance palazzo is good and provocative, while the paintings are architecturally savvy and washed in Mediterranean color.
Using Leonardo’s own massive supply of notebooks as well as myriad other writings from the time, Donovan shows why, as well as what, Leonardo created in so many areas of life. Like no other biography, this book full of Bixley's original drawings shows the real Leonardo.
Despite his mother's vow for him to become a priest, young Vivaldi is only interested in music. He soon grows from a feisty, violin-obsessed boy into a stubborn young man who puts his musical training ahead of his studies for priesthood.
Beautiful, ornate artwork portrays the spirit and splendor of Vivaldi's hometown of Venice. A historical note, musical score, and glossary will help readers more fully appreciate the composer’s Baroque context and his enduring genius.
This gorgeous and empowering picture book from award-winning author-illustrator Evan Turk paints the portrait of Marietta Barovier, the groundbreaking Renaissance artisan who helped shape the future of Venetian glassmaking.
Marietta and her family lived on the island of Murano, near Venice, as all glassmakers did in the early Renaissance. Her father, Angelo Barovier, was a true maestro, a master of glass. Marietta longed to create gorgeous glass too, but glass was men’s work.
One day her father showed her how to shape the scalding-hot material into a work of art, and Marietta was mesmerized. Her skills grew and grew.
Marietta worked until she created her own unique glass bead: the rosetta. Small but precious, the beautiful beads grew popular around the world and became as valuable as gold. The young girl who was once told she could not create art was now the woman who would leave her mark on glasswork for centuries to come.
The Emperor Titus opened the enormous Colosseum in AD 80 to host 100 days of games, and it will astound readers to learn what the ancient Romans found entertaining.
Over 50,000 screaming fans watched gladiators battling each other to the death, men fighting exotic wild beasts, and even mock sea battles with warships floating on an arena floor flooded with water. By AD 476 the Roman Empire had fallen, and yet the ruins of the Colosseum remain a world-famous landmark of an unforgettable time.
Pack up your bags, we're going to the Vatican! Reading has the power to take you places. It widens your imagination while feeding you with facts. There's much to learn about the world, its many cultures, regions and peoples, if you just take that first step. So what are you waiting for?
The Paris skies are gray, so Miss Clavel and the twelve little girls are leaving for brighter weather---spring in Rome. Rome has wonderful sights to see and delicious things to eat, but Madeline also finds an unexpected adventure, involving a thief, a chase, and many, many cats. The first all-new Madeline book in close to fifty years combines a lively story with luminous gouache and watercolor illustrations. Beloved Madeline returns, as brave and irrepressible as ever!
Renato loves his home in Florence, Italy. He loves playing with his friends in the Piazza della Signoria.
He loves walking home by the beautiful buildings and fountains with his father in the evenings. And he especially loves the stone lion who seems to smile at him from a pedestal in the piazza.
The lion makes him feel safe.But one day his father tells him that their family must leave. Their country is at war, and they will be safer in America. Renato can only think of his lion. Who will keep him safe?
With luminous watercolor paintings, Barbara DiLorenzo captures the beauty of Florence in this heartwarming and ultimately magical picture book.
Daniela the glassmaker's daughter is grumpy and never smiles. Her father promises a beautiful glass palace to anyone who can make her laugh. People come from far and wide to try their luck in amusing Daniela. But mask makers, lion tamers and magicians cannot raise a smile from the princess.
It is only when a young apprentice makes the first looking glass that Daniela learns to smile – at her own grumpy reflection! This beautiful fable set in sixteenth-century Venice features stunning illustrations from award-winning artist Jane Ray alongside a poetic text.
When Queen Margherita makes a special request after tasting one of his famous pizzas, Raffaele of Napoli beams with pride and goes all about town to get just the right ingredients, but when a sneaky cat with a taste for anchovies puts an unexpected twist in his plans, Raffaele must think quickly in order to make an entirely new creation that will be just as good.
Pizza is a food that lends itself to legend and obsession, spanning geography, generations, and gender. In lavish illustrations and hand-lettered text, Pizzapedia celebrates all there is to fixate about:
The stories behind its origin (we have the ancient Greeks to thank before the Italians); the delectable ingredients, from San Marzano tomatoes to buffalo mozzarella; the failed and the famous inventions (like "the pizza saver," the piece of plastic that prevents a pizza delivery box top from drooping into the pie); the merits of Sicilian vs. New York vs. Chicago vs. new (Detroit?!) styles; and much more.
Like the universally beloved food, this art-driven book of miscellany is inviting, colorful, and a delicious gift to give and get.
Francesco Tirelli loved to eat gelato from his uncle's cart. So when he moves from Italy to Hungary, Francesco decides to open his own ice cream store. There young Peter learns to love ice cream as much as Francesco did. But when the war comes and Francesco closes his shop for the winter, he uses the shop for a special purpose—to hide his Jewish friends and neighbors from danger. This heroic tale is based on true events.
Join Tranio, the son of an actor, and his friend Livia, the baker's daughter, in witnessing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Tranio, like most Roman boys, likes to watch whatever is going on: tradesmen selling their goods, ships unloading their exotic cargoes, politicians making speeches in the forum. But one hot August day a very different scene unfolds.
The ground begins to shake, the sky to darken. Heading for the harbor, Tranio and his friend Livia hide on a boat and witness one of the most terrifying moments in recorded history-the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of their beloved city, Pompeii.
Children will love this retelling of a classic Italian fairy tale. Papa Gatto, trusted adviser to the prince, learns that judgment can be clouded by appearances when he hires the lovely Sophia to care for his eight tiny kittens.
When Papa Gatto realizes his mistake, his home is in shambles, his kittens are neglected, and a priceless heirloom is in Sophia's hands. Fortunately, the next helper he hires is Beatrice, whose affection for his kittens assures him that this time he has found someone he can trust.
The crafty Sophia, however, has other ideas...
With its surprising twist to the happily-ever-after ending and its exquisitely detailed illustrations, this charming Italian fairy tale is sure to become a favorite of cat lovers, caretakers, and hopeless romantics everywhere.
More Travel Books for Kids
If you love to read books about fun places with your kids like I do, you'll love these book lists for kids:
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