Literature in Italy

Do you want to familiarise yourself with Italian culture by reading some Italian literature? Want to know who the biggest names are in the history of literature in Italy? Our guide to literature in Italy gives you the facts & information you’ll wan

Italy is in many ways viewed as the cradle of western civilisation. It comes as no surprise then that Italy has a vastly rich history of which literature has always been an important part throughout the ages. Here we’ve highlighted some of the most important contributors to literature in Italy according to different literary periods.

Classical Italian literature

Ancient Rome was the military and cultural centre of the world for centuries. Literature was a well developed discipline in Italy during Roman times producing several classical works of literature that are still read today. It is amazing to think that such great works of literature were written in Italy as far back as 800BC. Some of the biggest names in Italian literature from this period include Horace, Virgil, Livy and Ovid. Perhaps the single most memorable piece of literature to come out of Italy from this time was Aenid written by Virgil. This piece of literature from Italy can be viewed as the forefather of many great heroic epics, and involves the protagonist of the story escaping from Troy and eventually becoming the leader of Rome.

Literature in the Italian language

Although the above mentioned classical literature was all written in Italy by Italians, the Romans used to speak and write in Latin. The first noteworthy examples of literature from Italy written in the Italian language date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Among the very best of names in Italian literature from this period is Dante Alighieri who wrote the divine comedy. This piece of literature is still widely read today and involves a trip through heaven and hell.  Other significant names in literature in Italy from the same period include Francesco Petrarza and Giovanni Boccaccio.

Renaissance literature in Italy

Although the renaissance is rightly credited as the re birth of culture in Europe, it is strange to note that relatively few advances took place in the field of literature in Italy at this time. The renaissance in Italy was more about art and architecture than literature.

19th Century literature in Italy

The 19th century saw the birth of a literary character that was to become a household name in all four corners of the world. Carlo Collodi was an Italian author who invented Pinocchio in Italy during the 19th century.  More seriously, literature in Italy during this time began to take on a more social and political role offering critiques of Italian society. One such author from Italy whose literature dealt with such subjects was Alessandro Manzoni.

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