Italy

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Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

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Venice, 1585.
When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura's father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice's fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura's prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister's death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.


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Getting the Boot by Peggy Guthart Strauss

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Studying abroad isn't at all like Kelly thought it would be. Instead of shopping for fine Italian leather and living in an apartment with a view of the Colosseum, she is stuck in a stuffy dorm room with three other girls, and is sharing one shower with the entire floor! This is not the bella Roma that she'd dreamed of. But there is one part of Italy that Kelly doesn't mind—Joe, a really cute guy who's in the study abroad program too. Joe's into staying up late and partying hard, two things that Kelly used to love doing. Bad habits are hard to break, and she soon finds herself on thin ice with the program coordinators. If Kelly's not careful, she might just get the boot… 


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Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes

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Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though — and neither have thirteen-year- old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the German forces. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings — with only a bicycle to help them — do against a whole army? Middle-grade fans of history and adventure will be riveted by the action and the vividly evoked tension of World War II.


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Juliet by Anne Fortier

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Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?


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Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo

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May, 1915.

Alfie and his fisherman father find a girl on an uninhabited island in the Scillies – injured, thirsty, lost… and with absolutely no memory of who she is, or how she came to be there. She can say only one word: Lucy.

Where has she come from? Is she a mermaid, the victim of a German U-boat, or even – as some islanders suggest – a German spy…?

Only one thing is for sure: she loves music and moonlight, and it is when she listens to the gramophone that the glimmers of the girl she once was begin to appear.

WW1 is raging, suspicion and fear are growing, and Alfie and Lucy are ever more under threat. But as we begin to see the story of Merry, a girl boarding a great ship for a perilous journey across the ocean, another melody enters the great symphony – and the music begins to resolve…


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Primavera by Mary Jane Beaufrand

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The Italian Renaissance was a cultural explosion of art, architecture and learning, but it had a darker side. Two powerful families, the tyrannical Medici and their biggest rivals, the Pazzi, are tangled in a bloody struggle for ultimate power. Caught in the whirlwind is Flora, the last daughter of the Pazzi. As her beautiful older sister is being painted by the famed artist Botticelli, Flora is dreading her fate. Destined for life in a convent, Flora is determined to take matters into her own hands, even as her world crumbles around her. When Flora decides runs away, she has no idea that the decision will save her life. As her family falls to their murderous enemy, Flora must find a new life and a new identity.

Inspired by actual events, Primavera is a dazzling coming of age story set during a time of beauty and wealth, ambition, rivalry and brutality. Historical art references to Boticelli and his famous painting, Primavera, give this book an appeal similar to Girl with a Pearl Earring. 


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The Queen's Soprano by Carol Dines

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Seventeen-year-old Angelica Voglia has the voice of an angel. But in seventeenth-century Rome, the pope has forbidden women to sing in public. To make matters worse, her controlling mother is determined to marry her off to a wealthy nobleman, even though Angelica is in love with a poor French artist. Angelica's only hope to sing before an audience—and escape a forced marriage—is to flee to Queen Christina's court, where she will become the queen's soprano. But she soon discovers that the palace walls are not completely secure . . . and her freedom will require even greater sacrifice than she imagined.