I received the book for Italian Short Stories: Racconti in Italiano for my birthday some years ago. It’s still available in most UK bookshops and is usually found in the languages section. It has a collection of short stories, with the Italian text on one page and the English translation on the next. This makes it really easy to start reading the story in Italian and referring across to the English if you encounter a new word or tricky passage. Having said that, the level is generally quite high so it’s probably not aimed at beginners.
My favourite story in this book is ‘Lilith’, by the Turin-born author Primo Levi. Apparently, if you read the book of Genesis closely, you will notice that the creation of man is not described once, but twice. According to Jewish mythology, the first creation was not of Adam and Eve, but of Adam and a woman called Lilith. The main difference was that Adam and Lilith were created together at once, rather than Adam and then Eve as an afterthought. However, when Adam attempted to make Lilith obey him as her master, she refused and left the Garden of Eden and became destined to wander the Earth. Only then did God decide to create Eve so that Adam would not remain alone.
Another fantastic story in this book is one by the Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia, which is about a group of peasants who are promised a new life in America. You won’t forget this one in a hurry!
Overall, Short Stories in Italian comes strongly recommended.