Calcio by John Foot represents the core text for anglophone calcio connoisseurs. It’s a captivating romp through the history and cultural nuances of Italian football. But once you’ve ticked that off, where should you look next to further immerse yourself?
In this section of the site I’ll be venturing off the beaten track to share my tips for books on Italian football. These span the full gamut of interests, ranging from comprehensive club histories and stadium guides all the way through to photographic tomes for the coffee table.
My aim is to help you navigate the minefield of buying books online, and hopefully find something that plays to your interests. Keep checking back as more books are added regularly…
Where To Buy?
It goes without saying that Amazon.co.uk is a great place to find new books on Italian football at reasonable prices. But you should also try Amazon.it – whilst the postage will be more expensive, you stand a greater chance of finding that rarity you’ve been after.
Ebay can also throw up a few second-hand gems in very good condition. eBay’s Global Shipping Programme also means that you can buy directly from sellers in Italy, which is great if you are chasing a specific book. However, the VAT costs (20%) and postage costs from international sellers (set by eBay and typically £10-15 postage for a single item) can make this an expensive business.
Italian bookshops La Feltrinelli and ibs.it stock the widest choice of books. Most books are priced at a small discount (5-15%) compared to the cover price and postage can be quite reasonable, particularly if you’re buying more than one book. La Feltrinelli occasionally offer free international delivery so it’s worth signing up to their mailing list. Both have proven to be reliable, eventually; delivery can take several weeks if you order a book that is currently out of stock.
If you’re planning on visiting Italy and don’t mind a bit of jeopardy, one technique I’ve used is to order items from Italy and have them delivered to your hotel. If you ask the hotel in advance they’re usually happy to hold the item until your arrival. Just remember to leave enough time for the parcel to arrive before you do!
Home Bankers – widely available English language books
Calcio – A History of Italian Football by John Foot – the essential jumping off point for anyone wishing to immerse themselves in the history and culture of Italian football. Comprehensive and compelling. You’ll find yourself coming back time and again. **Highly Recommended
A Season With Verona by Tim Parks – a blow-by-blow account of an Englishman’s season following Hellas Verona in the early 2000s. As much a travelogue as it is a football journal, the author delves deeply into the psychology of Italy, Italians and fandom. **Highly Recommended
The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss – the author is the inside man at a small town club in the midst of a miraculous rise to Serie B. But the fairytale rapidly unravels as those Italian staples of corruption and intimidation come to the fore. *Recommended
The Lord of Milan by Robert Nieri – a gripping fictional work based on the life of AC Milan’s founder; an Englishman by the name of Herbert Kilpin. Set at the turn of the 19th/20th century, a book that transports you back to the roots of Italian football.
Forza Italia: The Rise and Fall of Italian Football by Paddy Agnew – exploring the institutions of calcio and the multi-faceted role that football plays in Italian society, through the lens of players, coaches, the media, the Mafia and the fans.
Maglie | Shirts
La Maglia Piu Bella Del Mondo by Luca Ghiglione (2014) – a generously illustrated shirt history for Sampdoria – the most beautiful shirt in the world. Italian language, 220 pages, £15-20 **Highly Recommended
La Maglia Del Bologna by Marco Bertuzzi and Federico Monti (2017). A superbly illustrated book, charting the evolution of the Bologna shirt through the ages. Classics, rarities and monstrosities all in one book. English and Italian language, 176 pages, £22
La Maglia Gialloblu by Matteo Fontana et al (2013). A richly illustrated history of the Hellas Verona shirt, from the birth of the club through to the modern era. Italian language, 320 pages, £30
I Colori Del Calcio by Carlo Fontanelli and Emiliano Paperini (2018). A comprehensive history of Italian football shirts, digitally-illustrated with a page dedicated to each team. Italian language, 330 pages, £25-30
Fotografica | Photographic
#WeStand by Andrea Rigano (2020). A journey across Italy, from Triestina in the north to Reggina in the south, exploring the energy and vibrancy of the ultra movement during the period 2003-2010. Italian captions, 192 pages, £30.
Purgatorio Juve by Marco Garofalo (2017). A photographic journal following Juve during their 2006/7 season in the ‘purgatory’ of Serie B. Fantastic images of provincial football in Italy. Beautifully shot in black and white, perfectly capturing the melancholy of Juve’s predicament. Italian captions, 223 pages, £25-30. **Highly Recommended
Calcissimo – The Spectacle of Italian Football by Tim Reder (2007). A photographic journey through Italian football – from the colour and passion of calcio’s cathedrals, through to kickarounds in the piazza. English captions, 80 pages, £7 (NB. the author has a few copies left and can be contacted via the above link). **Highly Recommended
Atlante Illustrato Del Calcio ’80s by Massimo Coppola and Alberto Piccinini (2010). Rare images from a classic decade for calcio. 1970s edition also available – fantastic value. Italian captions, 320 pages, £7. **Highly Recommended
Calcio by Dolce & Gabbana (2003). A hardback tome; one part fashion, one part football. This was a blind purchase from the internet – when it arrived it had some quite unexpected arty content featuring the early 2000s stars of Italian football. Italian captions, 189 pages.
SPAL Dal Sogno Al Paradiso by Sergio Pesci (2017). A reportage style book charting SPAL’s remarkable rise from Lega Pro to Serie A. Softback, packed full of high quality, colour images. Italian captions, 120 pages, £20
Stadi | Stadia
1990 Stadi In Italia by Silvio San Pietro (1990). A comprehensive look at the venues of Italia ’90. A liberally illustrated tome telling stories from the design phases, through construction, all the way to the completed stadia. Italian and Enlgish language, 460 pages, £40+.
Storia | Club History
AS Roma Dimmi Cos’e (2017). A superb coffee-table style book covering the first 90 years of AS Roma’s existence. Superbly illustrated with artefacts and photos from the club’s formative years all the way through to the retirement of Francesco Totti in 2017. Italian language, 352 pages, £45-49
Inter 110 (2018). An extraordinarily well-illustrated look at the 110 year history of Inter Milan. The material is arranged in chronological order, featuring interviews with key protagonists from Inter’s history. English language, 430 pages, £20-32.
Always Milan! (2020). An in-depth and liberally illustrated look at the 120 year history of AC Milan, covering legendary players, great goal scorers, captains and stadiums. English language, 400 pages, £20-30.
Lazio: 120 La Storia (2019). A comprehensive hardback club history, generously illustrated and thoughtfully curated. A decade-by-decade journey through Lazio’s pivotal moments and key protagonists. Italian language, 318 pages, £35.
Biografia | Biography
Roberto Baggio by Mattia Ferri and Nicolo Belandi (2019). A comic-book style biography of one of Italy’s greatest ever players, covering his entire career from Vicenza, to USA ’94, to Brescia. A brilliant concept, superbly executed. Italian language, 152 pages, £16. **Highly recommended
Maradona by Sergio Siano (2018). Rare and unseen images, charting the life and times of Diego Armando Maradona in Naples. Black and white photography. Italian captions, 224 pages, £15.