Nothing trumps an actual visit to Europe, where you’re able to walk the cobblestone streets and soak up hundreds of years of history in each quaint village, bustling city or expansive countryside. But when we’re in between trips and longing for a taste of Europe’s best treasures, these reads tide us over until our plane takes off.
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Follow author Frances Mayes on an indulgent quest to restore an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Through evocative language, Mayes brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy—and her love of seasonal Italian cuisine. The best part? Dozens of Mayes’s delicious recipes are also included in the book.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
The British poet recounts his 1934 journey from his home in Gloucestershire to London, with only a violin under his arm. He continues on to Spain, where he is greeted by many hospitable locals—as well as the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Lee’s lyrical descriptions of life in London and his path along the Spanish countryside capture the continent in a special moment in time.
Venice by Jan Morris
Ripe with intricate detail, Morris’s florid account of life in this Italian city reads more like a love letter. Both well-traveled veneziaphiles and curious explorers will fall under the spell of the City of Water, even from afar.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A fictional tale from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, this novel weaves fact with fiction in a way that feels so real, it just might be true. Author Paula McLain pulled from multiple sources—including the actual letters of Hemingway and Hadley—to craft a story that documents the very beginning of Hemingway’s illustrious career.
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving
Irving’s visit to Granada, Spain in 1828 left him in awe of the impressive Moorish stronghold, the Alhambra. This collection of stories, sketches and essays helped promote tourism to Granada by introducing its beauty and history to the western world.
Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto
Blending historical romance with magical realism, Before Ever After looks at the mystery of Shelley’s husband Max, whose death three years ago comes into question after a stranger–who looks eerily similar to Max—shows up at her door with claims that Max had a previous life (or three), and also happens to be his grandfather. As the two go off in search of the truth behind Max’s past, Shelley recounts the stories Max told during their European trip together.
Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong by Jean-Benoit Nadeau & Julie Barlow
Light-hearted and a little quirky, Nadeau and Barlow attempt to dissect the intricacies of French culture and what makes the French so unique by taking a look at their perspective on the world.
What travel books have caught your eye? Tell us in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.