I know there is a whole topic devoted to books and movies in the general section, but it doesn't get much traffic.
I would like advice about good books to read about Italian history (modern or older, political insights particularly welcome) and fiction that gives a flavor of different cities or locales (particularly mysteries). Sadly, I am limited to reading in english. This trip includes Florence, the Cinque Terre and Lucca, so suggestions including Florence or Tuscany would be great.
My suggestions for fellow travelers:
* Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King
* Galileo's Daughter by Dava and David Sobel. Both are easy to read and provide lots of interesting background information (though the papacy comes off badly, if that is likely to bother you).
* The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGinnis, an absolute must if you even like soccer a little bit. It's a true story about a team from a tiny town that gets elevated to Serie B, the second tier of Italian soccer, and the crazy players, fans and sketchy owner.