22 Engaging Italian Short Stories and Novels for Beginners and Intermediate Levels
First and foremost, what are short stories?
They are graded readers, or in other words, short novels written in easy Italian that all levels of students learning Italian can read, and for most stories, listen to. This helps them learn and retain new words, phrases, and expressions in context, rather than through tedious flashcards or word lists. This is a list of my favorite Italian books for beginners and intermediate learners. Buona lettura.
1. Due Amiche e un Album di Fotografie (A1)
Dive into the world of Italian with our engaging short story ebook. Each unit, taking no longer than 10-20 minutes, makes language learning a breeze for beginners. Set in the picturesque South Tyrol region, the story follows Costanza and Anna’s summer adventure in the Dolomites, in Northern Italy. The 16 bite-sized chapters are packed with useful bilingual wordlist for your flashcards, quizzes, insights on common mistakes students make and conversation prompts to train your speaking skills. You can read a detailed review of this book on the blog Daily Italian Words here.
2. Le Avventure di Paul a Roma (A1-B1)
Discover the diverse neighborhoods of Rome through the adventures of Paul and improve your Italian skills with simple dialogues and stories. This Italian short novel has been optimized for beginners and intermediate Italian learners, this book offers an immersive look into the Eternal City and its rich history. Each bite-sized chapter is easy to read and concludes with a bilingual word list (English-Italian). At the end of the chapter you’ll find also quizzes, translations exercises and conversation prompts.
3. Amore e Cappuccino (A0-A1)
Amore e Cappuccino is a super easy Italian language book for beginners who have just started venturing into the world of Italian language. The story features Karen, a German tourist in Rome and Claudio, a mysterious Italian guy. The vocabulary and grammar are suitable for A1 levels.
4. Pasta per due (A1)
Another super-easy Italian short story fo beginner students. The story feature a couple that met online and use grammar and vocabulary patterns easy to grasp for beginners but also upper-beginner levels.
A short story collection of 7 mini romantic stories, filled with real-life dialogues and experience. Every is divided in mini-chapters. The vocabulary and grammar used are optimized for all intermediate learners. Each story is followed by a translation prompt and preposition exercises, as well as conversation prompts and bilingual word list read for you flash cards. An audiobook in slow Italian is available too.
Perfect for beginners and those starting their Italian language journey, this book is designed for adult foreign students who want to learn Italian in an easy and enjoyable way. Divided into 10 chapters with accompanying exercises and a comprehensive glossary, the story follows Francesca, a university student in Milan, throughout her day from breakfast to dinner. Experience her daily routine, including time at the university, the gym, and a night out with friends.
7. Dolomiti (A1)
I love this short story because it takes you to one of my favorite places in Northern Italy—the Dolomites! This storybook is written in the present tense and centers around Emanuela, a young woman living in the picturesque mountain village of Dobbiaco in the Dolomites. She is not satisfied with her life until she finds a way to change it. The story uses a wealth of useful Italian vocabulary related to work, transportation, and the mountains. At the end of the book, you will find a cultural section where you can read about the culture, language, and cuisine of Aldo Adige, the region where the Dolomites are located, in simple Italian. This book is suitable for Italian learners who have studied the language for 3-4 months and are familiar with basic Italian grammar and everyday vocabulary. Available on Amazon too.
8. Le città impossibili (A1)
This book includes 12 chapters, each focused on a different city, from Palermo to Turin. Each chapter is no longer than two pages and follows the journey of a first-time visitor to the city. At the end of the book, you will find helpful vocabulary, exercises, and cultural insights about each city. This resource is ideal for advanced beginners and focuses more on vocabulary, including lots of adjectives and vocabulary related to cities, than grammar. Available on Amazon.
9. Il Palio Rubato (A1-A2)
The beginner’s story is set in Siena, Tuscany, and takes place during the “Palio”: an ancient tradition of the city. Two friends from Milan, a journalist and a photographer, visit the town to report on this special event but find themselves entangled in the investigation of the mystery of the missing “Palio”. It is a really enjoyable read for beginners and advanced beginners, which will lead you to discover Siena and this ancient tradition while learning a wealth of new vocabulary. Exercises and audio are included.
Four Smart Tips to learn Italian better with Short Stories
- Writing is like speaking in slow motion. Be proactive! Don’t limit yourself to reading the stories; use them with your Italian teacher or language exchange partner. A good exercise is to summarize the chapters in a few written sentences. Writing will help you consolidate the new vocabulary and grammar patterns, while also improving your ability to construct Italian sentences.
- Talk about it: Tired of talking about the weather or the latest news? Discuss the stories with your tutors, teachers, or language partners. You won’t truly learn something unless you use it. Using the vocabulary and grammar patterns in conversation will greatly help expand your vocabulary and solidify your grammar.
- Don’t underestimate reading at any level. Why? When you read, you naturally absorb things like the correct order of the different parts of speech, correct conjugations, and the use of prepositions.
- Re-read your story two or three times. When you finish one of these short story books in Italian, don’t put it away forever. Set it aside for a couple of months and go back to re-read it a second or third time. That’s how you will efficiently learn (retain) your vocabulary.
10. Come hai detto che ti chiami? (A1-A2)
Suitable for those with a foundation in basic Italian grammar and vocabulary, this story takes place in the city of Como, Northern Italy. A young German woman and Italian man meet online for a language exchange and form a friendship based on a misunderstanding. This book reinforces basic Italian grammar while internalizing vocabulary through reading context, and provides insights into the city of Como. Available on Amazon too.
11. Una fine settimana a Venezia (A1-A2)
This story is set in Venice and features Federica, who is in town for a congress and takes the opportunity to meet Alvise, an Instagram friend, face-to-face. It’s carnival time, and they hit the streets to explore the city, immersing themselves in one of Italy’s and the world’s most famous festivities. The atmosphere is magical, but something happens that turns the story into a mystery. This book is a perfect fit for those who love delving deeper into Venice’s rich history, art, and traditions while learning lots of new vocabulary along the way. Each chapter comes with vocabulary exercises and cool cultural insights. It’s ideal for students who have already been learning Italian for a year and are at a lower-intermediate level.
12. La Commissaria (A1-A2)
A collection of mini detective stories in easy Italian. Each story is around one or two pages long and follows Inspector Sara Corelli as she tackles different mysteries. On top of that, each chapter is accompanied a set of exercises with each chapter, and there’s even a free audio download included. It’s a perfect fit for those of you who are at an A1+ (advanced beginner) level, but it’s also great for lower-intermediate students who want to brush up on the basics.
13. Storie per i giorni di festa (A1-A2)
Are you familiar with Carnevale or Ferragosto? Or have you wondered how Italians spend their Saturday nights? This Italian short storybook for advanced beginners is focused on culture. Each chapter shares a story about a significant Italian holiday and the accompanying traditions and habits. It is an excellent book if you want to broaden your Italian vocabulary and reinforce your beginner grammar skills. As with all Alma Italian Short Stories books, you’ll find grammar and vocabulary exercises and additional cultural insights.” Available on Amazon too.
14. Incontri in Sicilia (A2)
Fiona, a young American woman of Italian descent, journeyed to Rome on a scholarship to further her Italian language skills while studying at university in the US. However, her trip takes an unexpected turn when she travels to Sicily to obtain her great-grandfather’s birth certificate for her Italian citizenship application. The experiences she has in Sicily change her future in ways she could never have imagined.
15. Il gatto scomparso (A2)
The book “Il Gatto Scomparso” is marketed as an A1 level text, but it’s more suitable for A2-B1 Italian learners. The grammar used is of a lower-intermediate level, but the vocabulary is advanced and requires more than beginner knowledge. The story is a fun and humorous tale about a missing cat named “Gippi” and the antics of his family as they search for him. The book is available in both a digital format with free audio and a paperback edition. Available on Amazon too.
16. Chef per un giorno(A2)
A delightful Italian language book that is perfect for advanced beginners or lower-intermediate students. The book follows the story of a young American student who is passionate about cooking and is eager to learn all about traditional Italian cuisine. This passion, will bring her to Verona, in Italy. The author has skillfully crafted the story in a way that incorporates the use of grammar and vocabulary that is appropriate for an A2 level. This means that the book is accessible to students who have been learning Italian for a few months and have developed a basic understanding of the language’s grammar and vocabulary. Available on Amazon.
17. Modelle, pistole e mozzarelle (A2)
Set in Milan, the fashion and financial capital of Italy, a blonde woman visits Detective Antonio Esposito’s office in search of her missing daughter, a model. This lower-intermediate and intermediate level Italian mystery book is a perfect way to improve language skills while expanding vocabulary through a well-crafted short story. Available on Amazon too.
18. Storie di italiani famosi (A2)
This is a delightful Italian short storybook for beginners about nine great Italian historical and cultural personalities: Leonardo da Vinci and Federico Fellini, Michelangelo, and Gianni Versace. All the stories recount a real or imaginary episode in the protagonists’ lives, while also highlighting their world and their time. As icing on the cake, every chapter comes with vocabulary and grammar activities and short texts about cultural aspects. In a nutshell, one of the best short story books available on the market is not just about Italian, but about Italian history and Italian culture.
19. Storie di italiani famosi (A2)
Adriano is a great resource for adult foreign students looking to learn Italian in a fun and engaging way. The book is split into 10 chapters, each accompanied by learning exercises and a comprehensive glossary. Adriano is a small restaurant owner in the bustling neighborhood of Trastevere in Rome. His days are uneventful and peaceful, but at night he transforms into a romantic hero and embarks on thrilling adventures. Ideal for beginner Italian learners. Available on Amazon too.
20. Mafia, amore e polizia (A2)
A short mystery novel that combines love and crime for lower-intermediate Italian students. An insight into the Italian mafia (written in simplified Italian) stands out, especially at the end of the book. This ebook, which includes audio, uses the present simple, imperfect, and past tense. This is a fantastic story for Italian students at the lower intermediate level.
21. Le favole di Esopo (A1-A2)
This Italian short story book contains fourteen of Aesop’s fables translated and adapted for a beginner level: the first seven are in the present tense, the last seven in the past tense.Each chapter (fable) comes with a vocabulary list of the story’s essential words and some simple exercises. You will also have the option to listen to the audio tracks by downloading the audiobook for free by following the last page’s instructions. The fables are profound and straightforward, with a final moral to discover. This short story series in Italian is ideal for those learning Italian at A1 or A2 level.
22. Un fine settimana a Napoli (A2)
Are you intrigued by Naples, just like me, and want to learn more about it while following the Hans’ adventures in Naples? Hans, a German guy, travels to Naples to take a pastry course. However, a set of unexpected events messes up his plans.
This book is a good fit for A2 levels and is accompanied by a wealth of information about Naples’ rich history, culture, and traditions. In addition, for every chapter, you’ll find a free audio recording, a visual dictionary, and vocabulary activities. This book is a better find for lower-intermediate students, targeting them rather than beginners.