The Best Books on Rome

woman reading a book about Rome

The Best Books About Rome

Looking to fall in love with Rome all over again? Maybe you’re visiting soon and want a taste of what to expect. Luckily for you, writers have been infatuated with the Eternal City for centuries.

We’ve picked out some of our favorite books about Rome to get you in the mood for the unique blend of history, romance, intrigue and vibrant culture that Rome has to offer.

Historical Novels About Rome

I, Claudius – Robert Graves

Going back to ancient Rome, this classic is widely considered one of the best novels of the 20th century. Graves writes as Roman Emperor Claudius. Covering Rome’s imperial history up until Claudius’ coronation in 41AD, I, Claudius paints a vivid picture of what ancient Rome was like under the rule of Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula.

Experience what ancient Rome was really like with our Ancient Rome Tour.

Lucrezia Borgia – Maria Bellonci

Published in 1939, this is an award-winning, factually-accurate novel about Lucrezia Borgia. Borgia certainly lives up to her family’s reputation for controversy and cruelty, but Bellonci also highlights Lucrezia’s more complex, human side in this riveting book.

The Woman of Rome – Alberto Moravia

Written by Rome native Moravia, The Woman of Rome was first published in 1947. This novel is centered on one of the most vivid female characters in Italian literature, Adriana, and her life under Mussolini’s dictatorship. Definitely not one for younger readers, the novel follows Adriana as she looks to use her beauty better her life and escape poverty. Chronicling the seedy side of pre-war of Rome, Adriana comes against complex issues involving a failed revolutionary student, a deceitful chauffeur, a violent criminal and a secret police officer

Books About Modern Life in Rome

Four Seasons in Rome – Anthony Doerr

This short memoir by Pulitzer-Prize-winner Doerr chronicles his year-long stay in Rome for his fellowship at the American Academy. This is a great introduction to what modern life in Rome is actually like.

Rome Tales

There’s something for everyone in this collection of 20 short stories from Italy’s finest literary figures. Spanning hundreds of years, the Eternal City’s many faces are showcased in a combination of comic, tragic and dramatic tales.

With such a wide variety of genres and time periods covered, this lovely little book is surprisingly easy to read. A fantastic introduction to Rome, the locals and Roman culture.

That Awful Mess On The Via Merulana – Carlo Emilio Gadda

One of the masterpieces of modern Italian literature! The multiple layers of language, imagery and irony lead this author’s work to be compared with James Joyce. Gadda draws together different strands of Roman life in a detective story that focuses on the elusiveness of truth.

The plot revolves around Detective Ingravallo’s investigation into a robbery and murder in an apartment building on the Via Merulana. Set during the fascist regime, this novel transports you back to a dark period of Rome’s modern history.

Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio – Amara Lakhous

Set within an apartment building in Piazza Vittorio, Lakhous’ novel is created from the testimonies of the building’s inhabitants surrounding the death of a sinister character in the elevator. Despite the plot, this book is a delicately written comedy.

Lakhous paints an affectionate picture of modern Rome featuring modern Romans – ‘Romans’ from across the globe.

Explore the real, multi-cultural Rome on our Travestere and Jewish Ghetto Tour.

There’s truly something for everyone in Rome, no matter what age or interest! For more information on visiting Rome, feel free to get in touch by phone: +39 0645236956 or via email:



    The Top 10 Things to Do in Rome with Kids

    The Top 10 Things to do in Rome with Kids

    Wondering what to do in Rome with kids?

    Traveling with kids in Rome can be daunting – how do you keep young children’s attention but still keep teenagers happy and enthusiastic?

    It can be difficult finding age-appropriate sites to visit – there’s nothing worse than trying to keep a screaming two-year-old quiet in the usually-silent Vatican museums! But Rome has something for everyone, young and young-at-heart alike.

    Here’s a list of our 10 favorite family-friendly things to do in Rome.

    Ancient Rome for Kids

    History comes alive on Rome’s cobbled streets and a visit to Rome is the perfect chance to get your little ones interested in the past.

    Two great options to visit are he Roman Forum and the Colosseum. They’re next to each and right in the middle of the city – so no complex transport arrangements are needed – making your visit as stress-free as possible.

    1. See Where the Lions Lived in the Colosseum

    Kids of all ages love to go deep beneath the Colosseum’s arena floor and walk where the gladiators once walked. Underneath the Colosseum, there’s a maze of tunnels and the hypogeum (holding area). Animals held in this area included elephants, lions, leopards, bears and tigers!

    2. Run Off Excess Energy at The Forum

    Great for younger children, the forum is an open area full of ancient ruins and stunning scenery. Many families love to take some time out of their sightseeing schedule to simply sit and enjoy their beautiful surroundings here.

    You can visit both the Forum and the Colosseum’s underground on our VIP Ancient Rome Colosseum Underground Tour.

    3. Learn to Be a Gladiator

    If they loved the Colosseum, this is a great follow up! There are a few companies in Rome that now offer gladiator classes and diplomas – complete with real-life gladiators to show them how it’s done. Run by historical re-enactors, kids get to dress up and learn authentic gladiator swordplay.

    Running at two hours long, gladiator schools are suitable for kids six years and over. The class starts at Gruppo Storico Romano museum to see real gladiator artifacts and to try on realistic armor replicas.

    Rome’s Family-Friendly Parks

    The perfect place to unwind and relax, Rome’s parks are truly unique. Many were originally owned by wealthy and powerful Roman families and still have the splendor and grandeur to prove it. A lot of parks in Rome have restaurants, cafes, playgrounds and lakes to explore with your little ones – a perfect break from the sometimes-hectic inner city.

    4. Row a Boat through the Borghese Gardens
    Once owned by the famous Borghese family, this oasis in the city is now open to the public. Incredibly popular (without being overcrowded), there’s plenty for kids to enjoy: pony rides, a zoo (with it’s own little train!), a funfair and a number of playgrounds.

    A favorite with locals, the Borghese gardens offer you the chance to explore the lake by rowboat, see the entire park on bike and even rent a Segway.

    You can also visit the Gallery Borghese on-site, a wonderful collection of art and sculpture from the likes of Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael, Canova and others. Book in for our private tour of the gallery and learn about the fascinating (and sometimes scandalous!) lives of the artists.

    5. Relax in The Orange Garden
    A beautiful little gated garden on top of Aventine Hill, the Orange Garden has spectacular views of the entire city. Filled with orange trees (hence the name!), the Orange Garden was created in honor of St. Domenico who is said to have planted the first orange tree in the area in 1222.
    Explore Authentic Rome


    There are some things every visitor to Rome simply must do!

    6. Eat Gelato on the Spanish Steps

    Gelato is the most delicious ice cream you will ever taste. Combine everyone’s favorite food with a visit to one of the most iconic images of Rome – the Spanish Steps. The 138 historic steps are said to the widest in Europe and are an incredibly popular meeting place for tourists and locals alike.

    7. Throw Money into the Trevi Fountain

    Seen on the big screen in many Hollywood classics, the Trevi Fountain is another iconic image of Rome. The story goes that when you throw a coin into the fountain, you’re destined to return to Rome. Kids love this tradition and the fountain collects around €3,000 a day! Where does all that cash go? It’s divided up and donated to local charities – so feel free to keep throwing your pennies in.

    Both the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain are featured in our popular Heart Of Rome Tour

    Children-Only Places to Visit in Rome

    8. Explore The Children’s Museum
    If you’re unlucky enough to get bad weather while you visit Rome, check out Explora – a museum dedicated to fun things for kids to do. Perfect for under-12s, there are a lot of interactive displays to enjoy including water features, role play areas and a life-sized model of Italy’s fastest train’s cab.

    9. Go Toy Shopping
    Well, if they’ve behaved through all the sightseeing, why not! A local favorite is Bartolucci near the Pantheon – a traditional toy shop stocked with old-fashioned colorful wooden toys. Al Sogno is also a popular choice (it’s on Piazza Navona) – it’s best known for its wonderful and extravagant window displays.

    Only for the Older Kids!

    10. Investigate the Catacombs
    If your older children/teenagers are looking for something spooky, a visit to the Catacombs are a good choice – they’re dark, creepy and full of skeletons. The catacombs are hidden deep under modern Rome’s streets and are strictly by guided tour only.

    Originally used to bury the dead by early Christian settlers, there are thousands of bodies displayed along 300km of catacombs – including some saints, popes and martyrs.


    There’s truly something for everyone in Rome, no matter what age or interest! For more information on any of the above, feel free to get in touch by phone: +39 0645236956 or via email: