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The Greatest Literature of Italy

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

The 88 Greatest Works of Italian Literature

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

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