4 Books That Will Inspire You To Travel In Europe

There are two types of people in the world. No, scratch that! There are two types of travelers in the world. The first kind enjoys reading books set in alluring cities and tantalizing seasides and decided to visit these spots after reading a novel that sparked their curiosity. The second kind loves reading about places while they are right there, in the heat of it, enjoying their holiday and immersing themselves in the culture in real life and their book simultaneously.

There is no right or wrong way to mix and match your travels with your reading, so I am certainly not saying you should be one of the two types. Still, there is a lot of charm to be discovered in getting inspired by books and living some of the same experiences while traveling or being on holiday. Books act as powerful catalysts for wanderlust, stoking the desire to explore the landscapes and environments described within their narrative.

Whether it's the bustling streets of Florence or the allure of Barcelona, these literary journeys fuel our imaginations and inspire a sense of adventure. The vivid imagery and detailed settings make us yearn to witness these places with our own eyes.

Knowing this, I have decided to share four books from my library that have been an inspiration to me on some of my travels. If you want a New Year’s resolution that is attainable and fun, read one (or all) of the following novels in 2024 and get inspired to travel in Europe in style (even if it’s bookworm style)!

“The Neapolitan Novels” by Elena Ferrante – Elevate your European Travel itinerary

A shining example of the profound impact literature can have on travel aspirations is found in Elena Ferrante's captivating novel series, the "Neapolitan Novels." This literary masterpiece unfolds against the backdrop of enchanting Italian spots – such as Naples, Florence and Pisa. Ferrante's vivid portrayal of these locales not only draws readers into the intricate lives of her characters but also serves as a compelling invitation to explore the real-world settings that inspired her narrative.

“My Brilliant Friend" is the first novel in Elena Ferrante's widely acclaimed "Neapolitan Novels" series, published in 2011, the book introduces readers to the complex and enduring friendship between two childhood friends, Elena Greco (Lenu) and Raffaella Cerullo (Lila), against the backdrop of post-World War II Naples.

Spots to visit:

Porta Capuana and the O’Buvero Street Market in Naples

Just beyond a meticulously preserved medieval gate lies a vibrant open-air market that perfectly captures the lively pace of daily life in Rione Luzzatti. Navigating through narrow passageways, visitors will catch snippets of vendors haggling in the rich Neapolitan dialect and may catch glimpses of local women engaged in the everyday activities of hanging laundry, exchanging gossip, and occasionally engaging in spirited arguments from their balconies—a scene reminiscent of Ferrante's narrative.

Piazza Santissima Annunziata

In the third novel of the series, Lenu starts a new life in Florence, experimenting with style, love, and family life all at the same time. There are many important spots in Florence I could draw your attention to, but I would like to talk about Piazza Santissima Annunziata because when I was there, this was the spot that somehow connected me to the novel in a large way.

This square, an icon of Florence, is considered the sole authentic Renaissance square in the city, and was conceptualized by Filippo Brunelleschi as an homage to an ancient Roman forum. It is The square is adorned with the majestic colonnade of the Spedale degli Innocenti, the Basilica of SS. Annunziata, and the Loggia dei Servi di Maria.

The Spedale degli Innocenti, established in 1445, holds the distinction of being Europe's first orphanage. Conceived by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1419 under the patronage of the Silk Guild, it began its operations with the arrival of the first child, Agata Smeralda Innocenti, on February 5th, 1445, coinciding with the feast day of Saint Agatha.

The Basilica of SS. Annunziata, commissioned by the Servi di Maria around 1250 in the wooded area known as Cafaggio beyond the city walls, is another jewel on the square. Notable for the Cloister of the Vows, an exemplar of Mannerist style, the basilica showcases frescoes by renowned artists such as Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio, Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino.

While in Florence, stay at a perfectly placed vacation rental, Suite di Medici Loft. By doing this, you will be truly spending time in the heart of the city, just like Lenu!

“The City of Marvels” by Eduardo Mendoza - The Literary Tapestry of Barcelona

"The City of Marvels" by Eduardo Mendoza Garriga is a historical novel that unfolds against the backdrop of Barcelona's transformation from a provincial town to a vibrant metropolis during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Originally published in Spanish as "La ciudad de los prodigios," the novel is a tapestry of historical events, architectural wonders, and the dynamic lives of its characters.

The protagonist, Onofre Bouvila, arrives in Barcelona as a penniless young man and becomes entwined in the city's relentless pursuit of progress and modernity. As Barcelona undergoes a rapid urban expansion, driven by industrialization and the World Exposition of 1888, Onofre's journey becomes a microcosm of the larger societal shifts occurring in the city.

"The City of Marvels" is not just a historical novel but a literary journey through the heart of a city in flux. Mendoza's masterful blend of fiction and history captures the essence of Barcelona's transformation, making the novel a compelling read for those seeking to explore the cultural, architectural, and societal marvels that define this vibrant Spanish city.

Spots to visit:

Kickstart your dream European holiday and Explore Ciutadella Park, where Onofre embarks on a balloon journey, wander through Sant Antoni Market, or visit the Palau de la Música Catalana where Onofre is employed. Additionally, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Raval neighborhood or stroll along La Rambla, where the book's captivating scenes come to life.

Stay at a cozy holiday rental, Barcelona Stants, which offers luscious apartments located in the Sants-Montjuic area.

“The House of Niccoló” by Dorothy Dunnett - A Sprinkle of Renaissance Intrigue in during your European summer

While exploring literary inspirations for travel, I simply cannot overlook the gripping historical saga, "The House of Niccolò" by Dorothy Dunnett. This meticulously researched series transports readers to the heart of the Renaissance, weaving a tapestry of political intrigue, commerce, and cultural richness across various European settings.

At the center of this intricately plotted series is Nicholas de Fleury, a complex and ambitious protagonist whose journey takes him from the bustling streets of Bruges to the opulent courts of Europe. As a master of trade, finance, and espionage, Nicholas becomes a captivating guide through the tumultuous events and evolving landscapes of the Renaissance era.

The waterways of Venice, the trade fairs in Bruges, and the royal courts in France add layers of richness to the narrative. Each city is not merely a backdrop but a vibrant stage upon which the drama of "The House of Niccolò" unfolds.

Spots to visit:

At the heart of Bruges lies the iconic Markt Square, a bustling hub surrounded by historic buildings. Imagine the scenes of medieval commerce and vibrant markets described in the novel. The Belfry of Bruges, with its panoramic views, allows visitors to take in the cityscape just as the characters in the series might have done. Wander along Bruges' picturesque canals and explore the Béguinage, a tranquil enclave that harks back to a bygone era. These serene locations offer a glimpse into the daily life of the city's residents, much like the settings described in "The House of Niccolò."

While in Belgium, use Appartement Dahlia Garden in Den Haan as your home base from which you can explore everything the country has to offer.

“Tulip Fever” by Deborah Moggach – Blossom in Amsterdam during your holiday

Continuing the literary journey through historical tales, "Tulip Fever" by Deborah Moggach is a novel set against the backdrop of 17th-century Amsterdam during the tulip mania, a period marked by frenzied speculation on tulip bulbs. As readers delve into the world of forbidden love and financial speculation, Amsterdam becomes a key character in this tale of desire and deception.

The story unfolds with the arranged marriage of Sophia, a young orphaned woman, to Cornelis Sandvoort, a wealthy merchant eager for an heir. The marriage lacks passion, and Sophia becomes entangled in a secret affair with Jan van Loos, a talented artist hired to paint the couple's portrait.

Spots to visit:

For those captivated by the vivid descriptions of tulip fields and the allure of rare bulbs, a visit to Keukenhof Gardens is a must. Known as the "Garden of Europe," Keukenhof is a stunning display of millions of tulips, daffodils, and other flowers. The vibrant colors and fragrant blooms mirror the beauty and obsession depicted in "Tulip Fever."

Navigate the labyrinthine canals of Amsterdam, which play a significant role in the novel's narrative. Picture the clandestine meetings and passionate encounters along these waterways as you explore the city's historic canals, lined with picturesque buildings and charming bridges.

You don’t have to stay in a busy city, you can chill out in a penthouse rental home in Loosdrecht, located in a vast nature reserve with lakes and waterways, just 30 km from Amsterdam.

Summer festivals in Spain you should experience during your holiday
17-05-2024 Emily Williams
Summer festivals in Spain you should experience during your holiday

As the sun-soaked days of summer stretch across the Iberian Peninsula, Spain comes alive with a whirlwind of festivals, fiestas, and flamenco. From the lively streets of Barcelona to the sun-drenched shores of Andalusia, Spain offers a vibrant tapestry of cultural events that celebrate the country's rich heritage and passion for life.

Read more
5 Dog-friendly Spots in Europe to Discover in the Spring of 2024
12-05-2024 Emily Williams
5 Dog-friendly Spots in Europe to Discover in the Spring of 2024

When it comes to planning a holiday, the thought of leaving your beloved pet behind can be a tough pill to swallow. But what if you didn't have to?

Read more
Let’s visit a medieval town in Germany: Rothenburg ob der Tauber
12-05-2024 Emily Williams
Let’s visit a medieval town in Germany: Rothenburg ob der Tauber

When you think about medieval times, what town instantly pops into your mind? What does it look like? I am almost sure it is something resembling Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a small gem of a town in Germany, which will forever live in my mind rent-free as one of the best places to visit while spending your holiday in Bavaria.

Read more