Here are two guidebooks I recommend:
Italy, Insight Guides is a little short on logistical details but big on flavour. This is the book I turned to to help me decide what regions I wanted to visit, but I'll probably leave the book at home.
Secret Venice is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful stories concerning the nooks and crannies of Venice, of which there appear to be plenty. Like the graffiti image of a human heart, scratched by a stonecutter who slept in the doorway upon witnessing a Levantine Venetian stab his mother and tear out her heart.
So yes, Venice is on the itinerary, followed by Florence, then Rome, with day trips here and there. (And as part of our preparation, we've been replaying Assassin's Creed II, to familiarize ourselves with the lay of the land.)
Quite apart from practical research, I've also been stocking up on novels set in those places. My reading material for the journey includes:
- The Comfort of Strangers, by Ian McEwan
- Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann
- Zofloya; or, The Moor: A Romance of the Fifteenth Century, by Charlotte Dacre
- The Woman of Rome, by Alberto Moravia
I've already started the McEwan, and it's short and very compelling and it'll be done before I leave. And I'm excited about the Moravia because it was referenced in Mad Men. But it strikes me that these novels are all a little dark. Perhaps something a little lighter, more gelato-inspired, is in order.
Do you have any Venice-to-Rome reading recommendations for me?