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Italian Premio Strega Collection in the Library of Congress

Founded in 1947 the literary award Premio Strega is still the most coveted literary prize in Italy after more than 70 years. This guide explores the Premio Strega collection at the Library of Congress providing insight into contemporary Italian fiction.


Literary awards in Italy are plenty, popular, and constantly growing. A few of them have a long history and to this day continue to be widely appreciated by Italians and internationally. This is the case for the famous Premio Strega founded in 1947 by the writer Maria Bellonci and her husband, the journalist and literary critic Goffredo Bellonci. This guide provides many insights into the history of this Premio Strega, one of Italy's most prestigious literary awards that is generally considered equivalent to the American Pulitzer Prize. In addition, it lists all of the award-winning books from the year of its foundation in 1947 through the year 2000. The image displayed here portrays the founder of the award Maria Bellonci with two of the earliest Premio Strega's award winners, Giorgio Bassani and Giovanni Battista Angioletti, standing in front of the historical blackboard that is still in use today. The image features a photograph taken by the editor of the guide and is not yet available in the Library of Congress's digital collections.

Maria Bellonci with Giorgio Bassani, winner of the 1956 Premio Strega, and Giovanni Battista Angioletti, winner of the 1949 Premio Strega. La fiera letteraria. July 15, 1956. Library of Congress General Collections.

With the sponsorship of Guido Alberti, co-owner of the manufacturing company of the famed liqueur Strega, Maria and Goffredo Bellonci set forth to make the Premio Strega one of the longest running, prominent, and frequently criticized award for Italian literature. In the aftermath of World War II, Maria and Goffredo Bellonci started a literary salon in their Roman residence. Every Sunday they invited a group of friends who were mostly writers to discuss contemporary books of Italian fiction. These informal gatherings gradually became known as "Amici della domenica" (Sunday Friends). The Bellonci residence, which is currently the headquarters of the Maria and Goffredo Bellonci Foundation in Rome and site of a museum open to the public, continues to oversee the complex award process of the Premio Strega each year.

In her own book, Come un racconto. Gli anni del Premio Strega, Maria Bellonci provides a historical as well as an autobiographic context of the Premio Strega's long life, starting with the casual meetings among friends during wartime. "On Sunday mornings, I would get up at five o'clock and start baking cakes with the flour and eggs I had gotten at the black market....Emerging from such tragic experiences with so many dreadful events still scaring us and lingering acts of brutality everywhere around us, we were surprised to witness ourselves having frequent bouts of laughter coming as a form of vindication for years of angst."1 The salon-like meetings at the Bellonci residence in Rome, a pretext to cope with residual wartime atrocities, turned into a sophisticated cultural establishment with the ensuing Premio Strega in 1947.

As it launched, the Premio Strega's nominating and voting process became controlled by a committee of about 155 writers, critics, and journalists who retained the name "Sunday Friends." In her own recollections, Maria Bellonci wrote: "On Monday, January 27 [1947] at eleven o'clock in the morning Guido Alberti called me to tell me that he and his family had decided to make a donation; the sum that Alberti was offering amounted to two-hundred-thousand lira, at the time a very dignified sum of money. And while the three of us [Maria and Goffredo Bellonci with Guido Alberti] devised the voting mechanism, on my notebook I updated the 1946 list of members with the new 1947 one: the first list of the [Premio Strega] voters."2

Premio Strega Current News

In 2021, the Premio Strega reached its 75th year. The award went to Emanuele Trevi for his novel Due vite (Two lives), winning with 187 votes (see " Complete List of Premio Strega Awards 1947–Present"). The runner-up was Donatella Di Pietrantonio with 135 votes for Borgo Sud, published in English by Ann Goldstein in 2022  with the title A Sister's Story External; followed by Edith Bruck with 23 votes for Il pane perduto, recently published in English as The Lost Bread.

In 2022, the Premio Strega went to Mario Desiati with 166 votes for his novel Spatriati, translated into English with the title Spatriati. A Novel. It was followed by the runners-up Claudio Piersanti with 90 votes for his novel Quel maledetto Vronskij (That Cursed Vronskij), and Alessandra Carati with 83 votes for her novel E poi saremo salvi (And Then We Will Be Safe).

Finally, the winner of the 77th Premio Strega in 2023 was awarded posthumously to Ada d’Adamo’s fictional memoir Come d’aria (Like Air). Her book is about her personal experience of raising her daughter affected by a rare degenerative brain malformation, holoprosencephaly, while going through her own battle with breast cancer.

Guide Organization

This guide contains information about the Italian literary award Premio Strega with sections organized by decades from 1947 to 2000 with references to the Library of Congress's collections of modern Italian fiction books that won the awards. The five main sections of this guide refer to the decades of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In each section, after brief introductions to the historical and cultural contexts of those decades, the Premio Strega books are listed in chronological order. For each award-winning book there is an entry with bibliographic information linking to the Library's Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), including brief summaries of the books and a "Further Reading" section. Reference works and monographs focusing on Italian modern literature that are available in the Library's reference and general collections are presented in the section of the guide "Italian Fiction Bibliography". Additionally, the guide presents a section about subscription databases and websites that may be helpful to researchers, students, and patrons interested in Italian modern literature.

Many books featured in this guide refer to the European Reading Room Catwalk Strega Collection, a legacy collection developed by Italian area specialists working at the European Reading Room. Throughout, readers will find images of Maria and Goffredo Bellonci, the founders of the Premio Strega, alongside authors, critics, publishers, and other personalities involved in the Italian cultural scene and events related to the Premio Strega. The images derive from photographs taken by the editor of this guide from the noteworthy historical Italian literary periodical La fiera letteraria, of which various years and issues are available in the Library's general collections and in the European Reading Room. The present guide features comprehensively the Premio Strega awards of the twentieth century.3


  1. Bellonci, Maria. Come un racconto (Milan: Mondadori, 1971), 3–4. Guide editor's English translation from Italian. Back to text
  2. Bellonci, Maria. Come un racconto (Milan: Mondadori, 1971),14–15. Editor's English translation. Back to text
  3. Lists of Premio Strega award-winning books for the decades starting with 2001 up to the present will soon be added to this guide as research progresses in the Library of Congress's vast Italian holdings and new acquisitions are added to the Premio Strega collection. Back to text