Every culture has its folklore traditions. Italy has a rich heritage of legends and tall tales about it's history.
The folk tales of Italy are a wonderful way to more deeply understand Italian culture. There are sites that share these stories with the public. Many of them are written in Italian--A great way to improve your Italian reading skills.
University of Michigan Italian Legends and Fables
You need to register to use the site, but you may do so as a "friend." There are audio links so that you may hear the words, tests, and vocabulary exercises.
If you are interested in books in English there are several choices. One of my favorite authors is Tomie de Paola. Decades ago, de Paola began writing down and illustrating various Italian folktales. His most famous is Strega Nona. There are many others.
A great story is The Mysterious Giant of Barletta. In this book de Paola pulls from an 11th century folk tale about a giant statue. The statue stands in front of the church of San Sepolcro, silently guarding the town. When the town is threatened, the statue is asked to help. It comes alive and, in true folk tale tradition, tricks the invaders into leaving.
In much the same way the Brothers Grimm decided to collect stories reflecting the volkgeist of the German people, Italo Calvino labored to create Italian Folktales. There are 200 stories that range from fable, parable, humorous story, to tall tale. Calvino does the almost impossible. He gives the reader a scholarly work of folklore and culture, yet this is a book you would want to read on the beach or by the pool. Stop! This is the book you want to take and read while you sip a glass of wine in the Italian countryside.