May 13
Last Updated on 07 May 2013

Italy Media List

Cathedral in Florence  

***Do everything you can to read or watch this; you won’t regret it!

**Highly recommended after you’ve seen/read the top of the list.

*Definitely worth your time. This may not deal with the time/place but can help set the mood for our upcoming adventure.

Recommended Books for Students Traveling to Italy:

Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster- An excellent historic reference to the time period

Quo Vadis by Henry Sienkiewicz– This novel won the author the Nobel Prize at the turn of the last century when the prize still meant something. It starts off a bit slow and can be difficult to sort through the Latin names (most copies have an index of names in the back), but once you get into the story, you will believe you are in the center of Nero’s Rome – very historically accurate – very sobering.quovadis

Pontius Pilot by Paul Maier – While most of this book takes place in Israel, it begins in Rome and Meier’s historical accuracy regarding daily life during Roman times is legendary.

Recommended Books for Adults Going to Italy: (in addition to those listed above for the students)

***Great Lion of God by Taylor Caldwell is a fictional story of the life of Paul. It has been years since I read this. It is fiction and contains some mature circumstances. While I was not yet then previewing them for my children or students, my husband and I agree that these are some of the best historical fiction dealing with this culture and time period we’ve ever read. They are written from a Christian perspective and I believe they would be suitable for older teens. You can taste the foods at the Roman feasts and feel the dust on your sandaled feet.

**Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell is a fictional story of the life of Luke. Not exactly where we are going, but he was there and the depiction of the time period is wonderful.

**The Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola. I am only about a third of the way into this but it takes the new testament and lays it out chronologically. It has footnotes as well as cultural notes that help to shed light on the time period and setting of the New Testament happenings. Highly recommended

**The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone – This biographical novel of Michelangelo is rather lengthy (in excess of 700 pages) but will give you an amazing appreciation for his work and the artisanship and skill required to create his masterpieces. We will be seeing several of these masterpieces and I can think of very little that would help you to appreciate his work more. Parents need to proof this one before giving it to your students.

*The Broker by John Grisham – Doesn’t have anything to do with the life of Paul but most of it does take place in Italy. This novel moves with typical Grisham speed and intrigue, and if you pay close attention, you can learn some basic Italian right along with the main character. Ciao bella!

*Captain Corelli’s Mandoline by Louis de Bernieres – I have only just begun this beautifully-written book which tells the story of an Italian who is stationed in Greece during WWII. Again, nothing to do with the life of Paul but beautifully written and dealing in an accurate historical manner with two nationalities and cultures that we will encounter on our journey.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes – Don’t let the movie version of this put you off; the book is very different. I found the logistics of purchasing a run-down farmhouse in Tuscany, the management of hiring foreign contractors and her discovery of ancient treasures as well as a new approach to food fascinating and refreshing.

Recommended Videos: (These used to be widely available, but now I don’t know where you can get them other than Netflix.)

***Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare – He is a rather major character in Rome and you should definitely be familiar with his story before you go. Pay careful attention to Mark Antony’s famous speech beginning, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your years…” which we will be re-enacting on the steps of the forum, feet from Caesar’s remains, where Mark Antony first delivered this speech (or a version of it). The Irving Public Library has an excellent audio version of this with multiple characters and sound effects.

**Julius Caesar – No, this isn’t a typo. We found an excellent miniseries on Netflix with this title, originally made for television. It is very well done and historically accurate. It doesn’t have the beauty of language that Shakespeare does, but is much greater in scope.

**Cleopatra – Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Rex Harrison – again, more about Julius Caesar here. Also, pay close attention to Cleopatra’s triumphal procession into Rome; we will be retracing her path (that was also the same path taken by other famous Romans when they returned to Rome in, you guessed it, TRIUMPH!)

*The Agony and the Ecstasy This excellent film starring Rex Harrison as Pope Julius and Charlton Heston as Michelangelo focuses on the painting of the Sistine Chapel though it also gives insight into Michelangelo.

*Spartacus This older film starring Kirk Douglas tells the true story of a slave revolt in Ancient Rome. Excellent! I have not yet seen the new version of this one.

**Ben Hur While much of this takes place in Israel, there are several very famous scenes that take place in Rome – especially featuring the Circus Maximus. This also has an excellent portrayal of Roman life during the time of Christ.

**Roman Holiday This film won Audrey Hepburn an Academy Award in the early 60’s. Modern-day in comparison with the other period films suggested, feature Hepburn and Gregory Peck gallivanting all over Rome enjoying the same sights you will be seeing. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, is this where they did that in that movie?!”

Well, these should get you started. If you are looking for more suggestions, email me and I’ll be happy to share some more suggestions.