10 Best Italian Authors Of All Time

Are you interested in the best Italian authors of all time? Take a look at a few of the top Italian writers below, and explore literature from the rich history of Italy.

When people think about Italy, they usually think of Rome, Florence, pasta, and wine. Italian literature is also steeped in the culture of this beautiful country, and some of the best authors in the world have come from the boot-shaped country. Because of everything that Italy has been through from the time of the Roman Empire to the Medieval Era and even World War II, Italian literature tells some powerful stories.

There are numerous famous Italian writers, and many of them have left their mark using the Italian language. From the Renaissance to the 20th century, some of the greatest Italian works have been translated into English, making it easier for everyone to enjoy Italian novels, short stories, and more.

Popular Italian Authors

Best Italian Authors

Who are some of the best Italian authors of all time? Take a look at the list below, and consider checking out a few of their works.

1. Dante Alighieri

Without a doubt, Dante Alighieri is one of the best Italian authors of all time. He served as a philosopher, writer, and poet.

When someone mentions Dante’s Inferno, they usually talk about his famous work, Divine Comedy, which was initially called Comedia. It is considered one of the greatest works of literature from the Middle Ages, and it was one of the first works from Italy not to be written in Latin. This work set a precedent for future famous Italian writers, including Boccaccio and Petrarch.

Divine Comedy continues to be read to this day. Dante is known for his famous depictions of heaven, purgatory, and hell, many of which show up in other works of Western literature and art.

The Divine Comedy (The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso)
  • New American Library
  • Alighieri, Dante (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 928 Pages - 05/27/2003 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

2. Petrarch

Petrarch, whose real name is Francesco Petrarca, is another famous Italian writer of the Middle Ages. He was one of the first humanists, and he is frequently listed as the person responsible for rediscovering the letters of Cicero. Many credit him with the birth of the Italian Renaissance period, which would begin during the 14th century.

Petrarch is also credited with establishing a formula for writing that future Italian writers would follow. One of his most famous works is Letters on Familiar Matters, which focuses on some of the most critical social issues facing Italy at that time.

Letters on Familiar Matters (Rerum familiarium libri), Volume 1
  • Francesco Petrarch (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 472 Pages - 09/29/2008 (Publication Date) - Italica Press (Publisher)

3. Giovanni Boccaccio

Giovanni Boccaccio was a contemporary correspondent of Petrarch’s and an influential Italian scholar and writer in his own right. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest Italian writers of the Middle Ages, and he set the stage for the Renaissance along with Petrarch.

He is also frequently called the Certaldese, and some scholars credit him as one of the greatest writers of prose of the era.

One of his most famous works is The Decameron, a collection of short stories that defined the genre in Italy and established Italy as an important center for the written word. This collection of short stories dealt with a wide variety of topics and created a window into what life might have been like in Italy during that time. This work is also credited with influencing other famous European writers that would follow, including Chaucer.

The Decameron (Penguin Classics)
  • Penguin Books
  • Boccaccio, Giovanni (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1072 Pages - 04/29/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

4. Umberto Eco

Best Italian Authors: Umberto Eco
This image was found on Wikipedia and used as part of the Creative Commons License.

Umberto Eco is one of the most popular modern Italian writers. He produced a wide variety of landmark works during the 20th century, and he was also an avid scholar of the Medieval era of Italian literature. In addition to his work as a novelist, he published many children’s books and frequently translated works from French and English into Italian.

One of his most famous works is The Name of the Rose, which was published in 1980, and it is still one of the most famous works of Italian literature to this day. It takes a fascinating look at historical events that most people are familiar with but presents them differently.

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The Name Of The Rose
  • Mariner Books
  • Eco, Umberto (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 04/22/2014 (Publication Date) - HarperVia (Publisher)

5. Nicolo Machiavelli

Best Italian Authors: Nicolo Machiavelli
This work was found on Wikipedia and is published as part of the Public Domain.

If you have ever heard someone describe as being Machiavellian, it comes from this writer. Nicolo Machiavelli is one of the most famous Italian writers of all time, and his most famous work is called Il Principe. This means “The Prince,” and it is a prominent political book.

The book appears to advocate behavior, unscrupulous acts, and an effort to get ahead. That’s why people call people who act in this manner Machiavellian. In particular, the book appears to promote the deaths of innocent people, and the Catholic Church even banned it.

Of course, it is still read today because the book is so controversial. Many of his other works follow the same line of thinking, making Machiavelli one of the most studied writers in Italian history.

Il Principe - The Prince - Italian/English Bilingual Text
  • Machiavelli, Niccolo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 158 Pages - 08/28/2013 (Publication Date) - JiaHu Books (Publisher)

6. Giacomo Casanova

Best Italian Authors: Giacomo Casanova
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Giacomo Casanova was a famous Italian author from the Republic of Venice; at the time, Venice was an independent country. He published his works under various names, such as Count of Farussi, but many have now been appropriately attributed to him.

He spent a lot of time traveling, he attended a wide variety of courts, and he was frequently associated with European royalty, Cardinals, and even the Pope. His autobiography, Histoire de ma Vie, remains a famous work in Italian literature.

Histoire de ma vie : Mémoires
  • CASANOVA, Giacomo (Author)
  • French (Publication Language)
  • 08/17/1993 (Publication Date) - Arléa (Publisher)

7. Alessandro Manzoni

Best Italian Authors: Alessandro Manzoni
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Alessandro Manzoni is another famous Italian writer from the 19th century. He is widely regarded as an author whose influential works brought together a country that was not yet unified. Italy underwent a significant revolution at the end of the 19th century before its current borders were solidified at the end of World War II.

Manzoni’s book, The Betrothed, communicated a message of patriotism while encouraging Italy to develop into a modern country while promoting Christian values. This powerful combination makes his work one of the most popular, and it is still a popular book even in the modern era. The book has a dry sense of humor, a unique style, and an engaging narrative.

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The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi (Penguin Classics)
  • Penguin Books
  • Manzoni, Alessandro (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 720 Pages - 03/06/1984 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

8. Alberto Moravia

Best Italian Authors: Alberto Moravia
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Alberto Moravia is known for having a versatile, diverse writing style. His vast repertoire is a powerful example of Italian fiction during the 20th century. Many of his novels focus on things that would have been seen as taboo during the early half of this century.

He wrote about existentialism, societal detachment, and even human sexuality. One of his most influential works is Gli Indifferenti, and even though it was his first one, many people believed it was his best. The book was applauded by critics, who liked the entertaining read and depiction of the middle-class family that struggled to find moral values.

The book is still relevant today, so it is one of the most famous works of Italian literature. Furthermore, many of his readers would be adapted for the big screen, including Agostino, which has only further positioned him as one of the greatest Italian writers.

Gli indifferenti (Italian Edition)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Moravia, Alberto (Author)
  • Italian (Publication Language)
  • 340 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date) - Bompiani (Publisher)

9. Primo Levi

Primo Levi lived during World War II, the rise of fascism, and the Holocaust. He was taken prisoner and sent to Auschwitz during World War II.

He was in Auschwitz for approximately one year before the war ended. In 1946, he decided to write about his time as a prisoner.

He published a book titled If This Is a Man that became a best seller. Despite the trials and tribulations, the book is remarkably measured, which starkly contrasts the horrors he must have looked through. He wanted everyone to be allowed to judge for themselves, making him a celebrity in modern Europe.

If This Is a Man and The Truce
  • ABACUS
  • Primo Levi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 07/04/2003 (Publication Date) - Abacus (Publisher)

10. Italo Calvino

Best Italian Authors: Italo Calvino
This image was located on Wikipedia and used as part of the public domain.

Italo Calvino was a famous Italian writer and journalist. Even though his education focused on journalism, he is better known as an author. He also lived during World War II, and he published a wide variety of stories that reflected what life was like during that time.

He released his reports a few years after World War II, and they received tremendous critical acclaim. He would publish more books, including Cloven Viscount, which focused on the growing concerns and disillusionment with the Cold War. The book discusses many of the problems shared by people on the European continent as the Iron Curtain descended and created significant tension between the two surviving Great Powers, the United States and the USSR, at the end of World War II.

The Cloven Viscount
  • Calvino, Italo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 08/15/2017 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

The Final Word On The Best Italian Authors

These are just a few of the greatest Italian authors of all time. From Rome to Florence and Milan to Naples, countless writers have made their marks on Italian literature and European literature. Italy has been through numerous trials and tribulations, and many of these issues are reflected in the works published by these fantastic writers.

Now that many of them have been translated into English, everyone can experience Italian writing and culture. Many of these books provide a powerful window into what life might have been like during that era. With works of non-fiction, Neapolitan novels, and even pieces from Sicily, there is something that everyone can enjoy from Italian literature.

FAQs About The Best Italian Authors

What Are A Few Italian Books I Should Consider Reading?

Other books worth checking out include Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino and I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti. Some of these books are among the most celebrated works of Italian literature, and all of them have meaningful themes and messages to communicate within their pages.

What Makes Italian Literature So Popular Today?

Italian literature is famous for several reasons.

First, Italy has a rich history that has seen a lot of changes. Second, Italy is home to some of the greatest thinkers of the Renaissance era, and many of them put their thoughts on paper, allowing us to read them. Finally, Italy is also a country with many religious associations, which many people are interested in.

Further Reading 

If you liked this guide on the best Italian authors, you might also enjoy works by the best Japanese authors

You may also be interested in our round-up of the best British authors

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