You may want to do some background reading before the trip. Here is a short list of some of the books we have enjoyed.
The Blue Guide to Sicily
A very thorough guide to the island. Recommended
Non Fiction – History & Art
Sicily : A Cultural History – Joseph Farrell.
A good all-round introduction to the island, but particularly good on Baroque Architecture.
Sicily – Three thousand years of Human History – Sandra Benjamin
A very good general and over-arching view of Sicilian history
The Normans in Sicily – John Julius Norwich
Quite old but a very thorough account of the Normans in Sicily (now published in two separate volumes).
The Sicilian Vespers – Steven Runciman.
Something of a specialist book, but a very thorough guide to the powers in Italy in the 13th century and their bearing on Sicilian history.
The Battle for Sicily 1943 – Carlo d’Este.
Sadly, now out of print, but an excellent account of World War II in Sicily. Well worth getting hold of. (Still available in a Kindle edition)
Caravaggio: A life Sacred and Profane – Andrew Graham Dixon
Not really about Sicily, but Caravaggio stayed for a time in Siracusa and is one of the most important painters to have visited the island.
Syracuse, City of Legends -Jeremy Dummett
Specific to the city of Syracuse, but informative and engaging, this book gives a good introduction to the world of the Greeks in Sicily.
Sicily 1943 – Steven Zaloga
Not as detailed as the Carlo d’Este account, but nevertheless a very good introduction to the Second World War in Sicily with some detailed and fascinating maps.
Sicily – John Julius Norwich
The most recent book by John Julius Norwich, as might be expected, is definitive. Not the easiest book for the new-comer, it covers a lot of ground quickly, but always with a fascinating insight. Excellent on the notoriously difficult period 1700-1860.
Non Fiction: Travel, General Interest
Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons: Matthew Fort.
An amusing account of travels through Sicily.
Midnight in Sicily, Peter Robb.
A fascinating account of food and recent history in Sicily
The Honoured Society, Norman Lewis.
A fascinating account of the Mafia in Sicily. Norman Lewis was, by all accounts, married to a Sicilian.
The Life of Alexander Hardcastle and the Greek Temples of Agrigento – Alexandra Richardson.
An intriguing account of the excavation and restoration of the temples of Agrigento.
A House in Sicily – Daphne Phelps
Beautiful story of Casa Cuseni in Taormina.
Princes Under the Volcano – Raleigh Trevelyan
A slightly specialist, but nevertheless fascinating account of the Enlgish families living in Sicily in the nineteenth century.
Cookery – Food and wine
Made in Sicily – Giorgio Locatelli
For many, this cookbook has been the inspiration to come and discover Sicily.
The World of Sicilian Wine – Bill Nesto
A specialist and very detailed analysis of wines and wine-making in Sicily. Much recommended
Sicilia in Cucina, Flavours of Sicily – Alessandro Saffo
An excellent, mouth-watering collection of Sicilian recipes.
The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
The classic Sicilian novel
various detective novels in the Montalbano series.
Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories – Giovanni Verga
The great 19th century Sicilian novelist.
The Almond Picker – Simonetta Agnello Hornby.
A novel, set in a fictitious village in Southern Sicily in the 1960s. The author is the sister of Chiara, the owner of Fattoria Mose near Agrigento
Sicily: A Literary Guide for Travellers – Andrew & Suzanne Edwards.
A good guide to the literature of, and inspired by Sicily
The Middle Sea – John Julius Norwich.
A Scholarly and thorough account of the history of the Mediterranean from early Greek times to the present day. Being a specialist on both Byzantium and Sicily, this book gives a fascinating background into the place of Sicily in the Mediterranean.
The Great Sea – David Abulafia.
A less Eurocentric account of the history of the Mediterranean than Norwich’s and extremely readable.