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The 88 Greatest Works of Italian Literature

The selection of great Italian literature is based on the same extensive research carried out for more than two decades—and continuing—for our flagship list, The Greatest Literature of All Time, and our other Greatest lists.

This list is not about all writing in the Italian language. Rather it is for writing by authors associated with the country of Italy and its preceding states, provinces or confederations.

Within this Italian context, literary works of all types, genres, cultures and periods are considered.

This list focuses on major creative works—such as novels, plays, epic poetry and story collections—although some shorter or nonfiction writing of literary significance may also be included.

Latest update: December 12, 2023

c.200 BCE
The Twin Brothers
by Plautus, Rome
Play
c.50 BCE
On the Nature of Things
by Lucretius, Rome
Poem
c.41–37 BCE
Eclogues
by Virgil, Rome
Poetry collection
c.35–30 BCE
Satires
by Horace, Rome
Poetry collection
29 BCE
Georgics
by Virgil, Rome
Poetry collection
c.29–16 BCE
Elegies
by Sextus Propertius, Rome
Poetry collection
c.29–19 BCE
Aeneid
by Virgil, Rome
Poem
23–13 BCE
Odes
by Horace, Rome
Poetry collection
c.10 BCE
The Art of Love
by Ovid, Rome
Poem
c.8 CE
missing graphic
Metamorphoses
by Ovid, Rome
Poem
c.60-70 CE
Satyricon
by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, Rome
Novel
c.86–103 CE
Epigrams
by Martial, Rome
Poetry collection
c.100–127 CE
Satires
by Juvenal, Rome
Poetry collection
1294
The New Life
by Alighieri Dante, Italy, Prose and poetry
1298–1299
The Travels of Marco Polo
by 0 Rustichello da Pisa, Italy
Nonfiction
1307
The Divine Comedy
by Alighieri Dante, Italy, long poem
1327–1368
Il Canzoniere
by Francesco Petrarch, Italy
Poetry collection
1348
The Decameron
by Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy
Story collection
1405
The Book of the City of Ladies
by Christine de Pizan, Italy
Novel
1516–1532
Orlando Furioso
by Ludovico Ariosto, Italy, long poem
1532
The Prince
by Niccolo Machiavelli, Italy
Nonfiction
1550–1568
Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
by Giorgio Vasari, Italy
Nonfiction
1827–1842
The Betrothed
by Alessandro Manzoni, Italy
Novel
1835
Canti
by Giacomo Leopardi, Italy
Poetry collection
1858
The Confessions of an Italian
by Ippolito Nievo, Italy
Novel
1881
The House by the Medlar Tree
by Giovanni Verga, Italy
Novel
1883
The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi, Italy
Novel
1895–1913
Sandokan
by Emilio Salgaari, Italy
Novel
1898
As a Man Grows Older
by Italo Svevo, Italy
Novel
1904
The Late Mattia Pascal
by Luigi Pirandello, Italy
Novel
1921
Six Characters in Search of an Author
by Luigi Pirandello, Italy
Play
1922
Henry IV
by Luigi Pirandello, Italy
Play
 
Captain Blood
by Rafael Sabatini, Italy
Novel
1923
The Confessions of Zeno
by Italo Svevo, Italy
Novel
1926
One, No One and One Hundred Thousand
by Luigi Pirandello, Italy
Novel
1927
The Devil at the Long Point
by Riccardo Bacchelli, Italy
Novel
1929
The Time of Indifference
by Alberto Moravia, Italy
Novel
1938–1940
The Mill on the Po
by Riccardo Bacchelli, Italy
Novel
1940
The Tartar Steppe
by Dino Buzzati, Italy
Novel
1941
Your Villages
by Cesare Pavese, Italy
Novel
1942
Lady Ava
by Francesco Jovine, Italy
Novel
1945
Christ Stopped at Eboli
by Carlo Levi, Italy
Nonfiction
1946
The Best House in Naples
by Eduardo De Filippo, Italy
Play
1947
The Path to the Spiders' Nest
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Novel
 
If This Is a Man
by Primo Levi, Italy
Nonfiction
1950
The Moon and the Bonfires
by Cesare Pavese, Italy
Novel
1951
The Conformist
by Alberto Moravia, Italy
Novel
1954
Contempt
by Alberto Moravia, Italy
Novel
1955
The Ragazzi
by Pier Paulo Pasolini, Italy
Novel
 
Metello
by Vasco Pratolini, Italy
Novel
1957
Arturo's Island
by Elsa Morante, Italy
Novel
1958
The Leopard
by Giusseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Italy
Novel
1959
The Cloven Viscount
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Novel
1962
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
by Giorgio Bassani, Italy
Novel
1963
The Heritage of the Prioress
by Carlo Alianello, Italy
Novel
 
Family Sayings
by Natalia Ginzburg, Italy
Novel
1965
Cosmicomics
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Story collection
1967
The Day of the Owl
by Leonardo Sciascia, Italy
Novel
1968
To Each His Own
by Leonardo Sciascia, Italy
Novel
1969
The Castle of Crossed Destinies
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Novel
1970
Accidental Death of an Anarchist
by Dario Fo, Italy
Play
1972
Invisible Cities
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Novella
1974
History
by Elsa Morante, Italy
Novel
1975
The Periodic Table
by Primo Levi, Italy
Nonfiction
1979
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Novel
1980
The Name of the Rose
by Umberto Eco, Italy
Novel
1982
If Not Now, When?
by Primo Levi, Italy
Novel
1983
Mr Palomar
by Italo Calvino, Italy
Novel
1984
The Evil Coming North
by Fulvio Tomizza, Italy
Novel
1988
Foucault's Pendulum
by Umberto Eco, Italy
Novel
1990
The Silent Duchess
by Dacia Maraini, Italy
Novel
 
The Chimera
by Sebastiano Vassalli, Italy
Novel
1993
Ocean Sea
by Alessandro Baricco, Italy
Novel
1994
Novecento. Un monologo
by Alessandro Baricco, Italy
Novel
 
The Shape of Water
by Andrea Camilleri, Italy
Novel
 
Pereira Maintains
by Antonio Tabucchi, Italy
Novel
1995
The Preston Brewer
by Andrea Camilleri, Italy
Novel
1996
Silk
by Alessandro Baricco, Italy
Novel
1999
N
by Ernesto Ferrero, Italy
Novel
2000
Baudolino
by Umberto Eco, Italy
Novel
2001
I'm Not Scared
by Niccolo Ammaniti, Italy
Novel
2002
The Days of Abandonment
by Elena Ferrante, Italy
Novel
 
The Last Legion
by Valerio Manfredi, Italy
Novel
2008
The Solitude of Prime Numbers
by Paolo Giordano, Italy
Novel
2011
My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante, Italy
Novel
2013
The Story of a New Name
by Elena Ferrante, Italy
Novel
2014
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
by Elena Ferrante, Italy
Novel
2015
The Story of the Lost Child
by Elena Ferrante, Italy
Novel

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