An essay in the Wall Street Journal discusses I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed).   Alessandro Manzoni’s work, which is often called the foremost Italian novel, was first published in 1827 and later revised in 1840.  It is a grand, sweeping, historical novel set in 17th Century Lombardy that follows the adventures and travails of Renzo and Lucia, the couple referred to in the title.  It is still an intrinsic part of Italian culture; many of its characters are often cited and most Italians can quote lines from the novel with some familiarity.