Reading list for Florence and Tuscany

Taken from Blue Guide Tuscany, 5th edition (2009)

Gene A. Brucker Renaissance Florence (Wiley, 1969). An excellent and very readable historical introduction.
Margaret Haines (ed.) The Years of the Cupola 1417-1436. A fascinating digital archive of the sources of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, now available on line at
Amanda Lillie Florentine Villas in the 15th century: An Architectural and Social History (Cambridge University Press, 2005). Provides a careful new interpretation of the countryside around Florence, concentrating on the properties owned by the Medici’s wealthy contemporaries.
John M. Najemy A History of Florence 1200-1575 (Blackwell, 2006). The most recent scholarly work, concentrating on the ‘Elite’ and the ‘Popolo’ as well as the Medici. The shift in emphasis from the ruling family to social history makes this a particularly intriguing book to read.

General Books on Florence
Eve Borsook The Companion Guide to Florence (Collins, first edition 1966; sixth revised edition of 1997, reprinted with corrections 2000). This remains one of the best books ever written on Florence.
Olive Hamilton Paradise of Exiles (Andre Deutsch, 1974) and The Divine Country: The British in Tuscany 1372-1980 (Andre Deutsch, 1982). Following on from Treves’ The Golden Ring, discussing Anglo residents in the region.
Christopher Hibbert Florence: The Biography of a City (W. W. Norton, 1993, reissued 2004). One in a series (others include Rome and Venice, both also by Hibbert) and provides an intriguing general view of all things connected with Florence.
Michael Levey Florence: A Portrait (Harvard University Press, 1996, repr. 1998). An equally intriguing view of Florence as Hibbert’s Florence: The Biography of a City.
Richard W.B. Lewis The City of Florence (Historical vistas and Personal sightings)  (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1995). As the title suggests, this book provides a highly personal account of the present-day town.
Giuliana Artom Treves The Golden Ring. The Anglo-Florentines 1847-1862 (Longmans, Green, 1956). One of the first books to discuss the importance of the English residents in Florence.

Tuscan History
Denys Hay and John Law, Italy in the Age of the Renaissance 1380–1530(Longman, 1989). An excellent, scholarly paperback dealing with this specific period.
Harry Hearder Italy: A Short History (Cambridge University Press, 1990, repr. 1996). A very readable paperback which provides an introduction from earliest times right up to the 20th century.
Daniel Waley The Italian City-Republics (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969, repr. 1978).
Describes the rise of the communes in the middle ages, and Lauro Martine’s Power
and Imagination
City-states in Renaissance Italy (Vintage, 1979) carries the story
forward. Waley has also written more specific studies (including Siena and the
Sienese, 1991).

Art History
Bernard Berenson The Italian Painters of the Renaissance (1930 and subsequent editions). A fundamental work, well worth reading for a fresh and clear account of the works of the greatest artists.
Jacob Burckhardt The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860; repr. 1965, HarperCollins). The classic work on the Renaissance.
Doris Carl Benedetto da Maiano. A Florentine sculptor at the threshold of the High Renaissance, (Brepols, 2006). Beautifully illustrated, providing a careful study of the work of this sculptor.
Mary Hollingsworth Patronage in Renaissance Italy, and Patronage in Sixteenth Century Italy (J. Murray, 1994–96). A serious two-volume study on patronage.
Walter Pater The Renaissance (1873, repr. 1967, Collins). Another classic work on the Renaissance.
Numerous monographs in English on the most famous artists include works published in the last half of the 20th century by Kenneth Clark and John Pope-Hennessy.

The Medici
Christopher Hibbert The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici (Morrow, 1974). Still provides an interesting account of the history of the family.
Dale Kent Cosimo de’ Medici and the Florentine Renaissance (Yale University Press, 2000). One of the most recent books on the Medici.
Nicolai Rubinstein The Government of Florence under the Medici, 1434-94(Clarendon Press, 1968). Still one of the most important works on the Medici family. It was Rubinstein who began the project to publish all the Letters of Lorenzo il Magnifico, continued under the direction of Michael Mallet and Humfrey Butters (the first 11 volumes cover the period 1460–1488).
The Medici Archive Project is an on-going database project which, since 1993, has been concerned with preserving the papers of the Medici grand-dukes, consisting of some 6,429 volumes of approximately 3 million letters. These are preserved in the Archivio di Stato in Florence and the intent is to promote research on them (

Accounts of life in Tuscany
Kinta Beevor A Tuscan Childhood (Viking, 1993). Of all the many books written by
The English about their lives in Tuscany, this stands out as one of the most sincere
and interesting.
Iris Origo War in Val d’Orcia (Penguin, 1956), an account of the war years. Also, her
autobiography Images and Shadows. Part of a Life (J. Murray, 1970).