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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
Plautus
Rome, play
c.50 BCE
On the Nature of Things
Lucretius
Rome, poem
c.41–37 BCE
Eclogues
Virgil
Rome, poetry collection
c.35–30 BCE
Satires
Horace
Rome, poetry collection
29 BCE
Georgics
Virgil
Rome, poetry collection
c.29–16 BCE
Elegies
Sextus Propertius
Rome, poetry collection
c.29–19 BCE
Aeneid
Virgil
Rome, poem
23–13 BCE
Odes
Horace
Rome, poetry collection
c.10 BCE
The Art of Love
Rome, poem
c.8 CE
missing graphic
Metamorphoses
Rome, poem
c.60-70 CE
Satyricon
Gaius Petronius Arbiter
Rome, novel
c.86–103 CE
Epigrams
Martial
Rome, poetry collection
c.100–127 CE
Satires
Juvenal
Rome, poetry collection
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, poetry collection
1348
The Decameron
Giovanni Boccaccio
Italy, story collection
1405
The Book of the City of Ladies
Christine de Pizan
Italy, novel
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, poetry collection
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, story collection
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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