Between 1837–39 Liszt was travelling through Italy with Marie d’Agoult. As was the case with the first volume of the Années de Pèlerinage, Schweiz (1835/36) he once again recorded his travel impressions in musical form. He devoted himself to subjects from literature (Petrarca, Dante) and the visual arts (Raffael, Michelangelo). Many years later Liszt reworked the pieces, publishing them in 1858 as Années de Pèlerinage, Zweites Jahr, Italien.
The central work in this volume is the large-scale so-called Dante Sonata (Après une Lecture de Dante, see also single edition HN 981). The Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (also available as a single edition HN 982) is just as popular. In 1861 Liszt published an appendix to Volume II, Venezia e Napoli, which is also available as a separate edition HN 985.