Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

What’s On Your Bookshelf? Travel books that inspire you

April 22, 2022

Have you ever read a book that inspired you to travel?

Perhaps you’ve read books that are set in a place you have visited and evoke memories of the time you spent there?

Perhaps you have planned a trip and used Travel Guides such as Lonely Planet to discover more about your destination, what not to miss and what to avoid?

Perhaps circumstances have prevented you from travelling afar but reading books has taken you on a special journey?

I’ve actually read books from each of the categories I’ve mentioned above.

This month, I’m sharing two books I’ve recently read that have been set in one of my favourite countries – Italy. I’ve always been drawn to Italy and visited long before I met my husband who was actually born in Italy and came to Australia as a 4 year old in 1952. We have visited several times together, as he still has cousins who live in the house where he was born and we’ve also taken the opportunity to explore the country in detail.

I remember the first time he returned to Italy – 50 years after he left. As we walked around, I could sense his feeling of ‘being home’. It is a lovely memory that I cherish.

Now back to the books!

As I mentioned, I’ve recently read two books that have evoked memories of my visits to Italy and which has made me impatient to start travelling again.

Ciao Bella! Six Take Italy by Kate Langbroek

Ciao Bella! Six Take Italy

Have you ever thought about packing up and moving to another country? Kate Langbroek, an Australian Radio Personality and Actress and her husband, Peter decided to do just that and take their four children on an adventure to Italy for a year. Well it was supposed to be for a year but COVID forced an extension. It was interesting to read about how Italy coped with this worldwide pandemic.

Ciao Bella! is about having a dream and living it as Kate shares the sublime joys and utter chaos of adapting to a new life in Bologna, what you discover about yourself when you are a stranger in a strange land, and how she fell in love. With a country.
Deliciously funny, insightful and often deeply moving, Ciao Bella! is Kate’s love letter to Italy and her family. It is also a glorious reminder of what Italians can teach us about living life to the full – and what really matters when the world goes to hell in a handbasket.

Amazon review

I felt I was taking the Italian adventure with Kate and her family. I have visited Italy several times but never made it to Bologna. It was wonderful to enjoy Italy again through her experiences. Now I want to make travel plans!

I gave this book 4 stars

Still Life by Sarah Winman

My husband and I spent a glorious 5 nights in an apartment in Florence (Firenze) back in 2012. We had briefly visited before but this trip was amazing as we wandered the streets and lived like Florentines. The apartment was across from the Mercato Centrale where we shopped to cook Italian dishes.

Firenze in 2012

My second book of 2022 and I just adored it. Sarah Winman’s writing is superb. Set from WWII until the 1970s, from Tuscany to the West End and then Florence, this book was a joy to read. Ulysses Temper, a British Soldier meets Evelyn Skinner an are historian, possibly a spy meet in Tuscany and find they are kindred spirits. Although it would take decades for them to meet again. I loved all of the characters – Ulysses, Peg, Alys, Cressy, Col and Pete and of course Evelyn and Dottie. Florence is my favourite Italian city so I indulged in memories of my visits there. I highly recommend this book and if I could have given more stars I would have.

Still Life by Sarah Winman
Still Life

This has been one of my favourite books for 2022 which I rated 5 stars.

Do you have a favourite travel book? Why not join us at Friday Friendly Challenge/What’s On Your Bookshelf and share it with us? You can link up your post below.

Friendly Friday Challenge

The Friendly Friday Challenge is a fortnightly challenge co-hosted by Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles, Amanda from Something to Ponder About and Sarah from Travels with Me.
You can learn more about the Friendly Friday Challenge here.
‘Friendly Friday’

What’s On Your Bookshelf is a monthly link-up co-hosted by Debbie (Deb’s World), Jo (And Anyways), Sue (Women Living Well After 50) and Donna (Retirement Reflections). #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

What's on your bookshelf?

Donna, Jo, Debbie and I have been delighted to co-host this one-time combo challenge with Friendly Friday Challenge and What’s On Your Bookshelf. To join us and showcase your favourite travel book, you can share in the comments, pingback with your own post, or use the handy InLInkz bar below. Please be sure to tag both challenges (‘Friendly Friday’ and #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge). We look forward to hearing your thoughts as well as your travel book suggestions!

Sue Loncaric

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Debbie April 22, 2022 at 17:17

    Such a lovely post Sue with all your memories and that’s a great shot of you and Mike! I am currently listening to Kate’s Ciao Bella: 6 Take Italy and am really enjoying it. I adored Still Life after you recommended it and although I’ve been to Italy I’ve not been to either Bologna or Florence. Great reviews with a personal touch!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 17:56

      Hi Deb, Kate’s book and also Still Life brought many happy travel memories back. It was a great topic for this month’s What’s On Your Bookshelf? x

  • Reply Forestwood April 22, 2022 at 19:47

    Great that you are joining in on the Friendly Friday challenge as collaborative guest hosts. You are very welcome and I hope you join in again sometime! I like your recommendation of travel books as well.
    Kate’s book sounds very much
    like an Italian version of The year of Living Danishly (a family living for a year in Denmark), which I loved.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 17:58

      Oh I would love to read The Year of Living Danishly. We have visited Denmark and of course, Princess Mary was born in Australia which is such a lovely bond between the two countries. I hope that you can join our What’s On Your Bookshelf? in the future to share your recommendations. x

  • Reply Retirement Reflections April 23, 2022 at 01:42

    Hi, Sue – After reading this post I now want return to Italy without delay — especially Florence! I loved that you were able to experience Mike’s 50 year reunion with his home country — what a wonderful memory to treasure. The picture of you and Mike is absolutely lovely. I think that I would love both books that you mention here. I will keep an eye out for them.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 17:59

      After writing this post I want to go back to Italy, Donna! Florence is my favorite city in Italy. x

      • Reply Retirement Reflections April 25, 2022 at 01:36

        I would love to join you on this trip, Sue. 😀 Florence was my first overseas trip — I went with my HS Art Class!

  • Reply Jo April 23, 2022 at 08:59

    I have Ciao Bella on my Audible shelf waiting to read, but Still Life? I’m rushing straight to my library app to reserve that one. Great suggestions.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:01

      You will love Still Life, Jo! I enjoyed Ciao Bella as well, it was interesting that they were caught there during the pandemic and reading how Italy implemented restrictions. Also the food and places they visited – I do love Italy x

  • Reply Toni Pike April 23, 2022 at 09:25

    Such a lovely photo, Sue. Those books sounds wonderful. I’m currently reading “Have Bags Will Travel” by D.G. Kaye – a very funny book about the writer’s experiences with travel, always with too much luggage. Toni x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:01

      Hi Toni, thank you and Have Bags Will Travel sounds like a fun book. I try to travel lightly these days but it doesn’t always go to plan! x

  • Reply Janine April 23, 2022 at 09:35

    Both these books sound really interesting, especially Ciao Bella. I have this secret yearning to live for a year in Rome, so I will definitely check this book out to learn some tips and ideas.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:02

      Oh go for it Janine! I love Italy and I remember on a flight from Australia I sat next to a young lass who was going to Florence to study Italian for 3 months. I thought what a wonderful experience it would be. xx

  • Reply Sandy April 23, 2022 at 11:21

    Many thanks for collaborating with our Friendly Friday team! Your books on Italy sound wonderful and makes me want to pack-up and go there.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:03

      Thanks so much for the opportunity Sandy! It was lovely to meet you and read your contribution.x

      • Reply Sandy April 25, 2022 at 03:30

        Likewise here, Sue!

  • Reply Denyse Whelan Blogs April 23, 2022 at 13:11

    It’s really interesting for me to learn more about my blogging friends through their posts. This was no exception. Knowing how much you have missed travelling I hope plans can be made and firmed up soon. Denyse

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:04

      It is a great way to learn about our friends isn’t it Denyse. I’m not sure we will travel overseas for a time but never say never. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones April 23, 2022 at 14:36

    Hi Sue I’m not really into reading travel books as I like to arrive at a destination knowing very little. However I do have Ciao Bella in my oil to be read soon. I’m making an exception as I don’t imagine I will get to Italy.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:04

      I think you will enjoy Ciao Bella, Jennifer. I don’t usually read travel books either. These two just reminded me of our wonderful trips back to Italy – great memories. x

  • Reply What do you do when you are in a reading rut? (April 2022 reads) – Eat, Play, Live April 23, 2022 at 23:59

    […] Tags: #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge by Deb, Sue, Donna, and Jo.  […]

  • Reply rawsonjl April 24, 2022 at 04:13

    After reading Dear Bob and Sue my husband and I set a goal to see all the US National Parks; it was a cute book about a couple visiting all the national parks in their retirement and while I have amended our “every national park” cry a bit (since I really do not enjoy spending the night in a tent in the wild) we are looking forward to crossing them off our lists.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 24, 2022 at 18:05

      Hi Joanne, what a great goal! I’m with you though, I’m more into ‘glamping’ than ‘camping’ but it is a great idea. I look forward to reading your experiencesx

  • Reply Alison April 24, 2022 at 23:29

    Hi Sue,
    I’ve downloaded Still Life but couldn’t quite get into it, but keep reading rave reviews so will have to give it another go.
    In my 20s I read a lot of Danielle Steele and always wanted to visited Carmel and Monterey because all the characters seem to go for the weekend. We finally got there a fee years ago and I enjoyed every minute and it really loved up to my expectations.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 25, 2022 at 11:35

      Hi Alison, I know what you mean. I have felt that way about books that come highly recommended and then when I try to read them, I just can’t get into them. Carmel and Monterey I’ve heard are beautiful although I’ve never visited. I’ve read Danielle Steele in my day as well. Thanks for visiting. x

  • Reply Erica/Erika April 25, 2022 at 11:16

    Hi Sue, Fascinating about your husband and his family’s history in Italy. I have heard other people mention that feeling of ‘being home’ even when they have not lived in a place for a very long time. Interesting how you mention Italy. I just finished an engaging book by Stanley Tucci (“Taste”)

    An exceptionally beautiful photo of you and your husband in Firenze. We were there almost 20 years ago. Great memories. Fingers crossed how you will be travelling again, soon. xx ❤️

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 25, 2022 at 11:37

      Hi Erica, yes I feel that way about the UK having roots in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. I’ve just started episode 1 of Stanly Tucci’s TV series on his visit to Italy. We are hoping to travel internationally next year and would love to do a River Cruise. At the moment, though we are staying closer to home and hope to visit Tasmania in October xx

  • Reply Gail Is This Mutton April 26, 2022 at 15:58

    My favourite place for a holiday is the Greek Islands. I love the book Good Morning Corfu: a Year on a Greek Island. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live there, this is the book. Lovely pic of you both.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 27, 2022 at 03:58

      I have visited the Greek Islands many years ago, Gail and they are so beautiful. I would be very interested in reading Good Morning Corfu so thank you for the suggestion. x

  • Reply Day 29 & Friendly Friday: Travel books – An Embarrassment of Riches April 30, 2022 at 01:13

    […] and for “What’s On Your Bookshelf” hosted by by Deb, Sue, Donna and Jo. […]

  • Reply Manja Maksimovič April 30, 2022 at 01:29

    Thank you for this opportunity to feature three travel books by fellow bloggers who I trust, and for your recommendations. Happy Friday!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 30, 2022 at 07:25

      You are welcome and I enjoyed reading your post. I’ve left a comment for you. Have a lovely week.

  • Reply Janet Alcorn May 3, 2022 at 01:35

    These books sound wonderful. I love armchair traveling, mostly because I don’t get to do the real kind nearly often enough. Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 5, 2022 at 08:46

      Hi Janet, armchair travelling is wonderful although I’m looking forward to being able to start travelling soon. x

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