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
On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal – Mary Taylor Simeti
American Mary Taylor Simeti arrived in Sicily in the sixties. She married and brought up her family in Palermo during the turbulent years of the early nineties. Her account of Sicily is organised around the calendar year with descriptions of the foods, flowers and festivities common to each month. Her account is candid and warm and told in beautifully written prose. Thoroughly recommended.
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
The New Wines of Mount Etna – Benjamin North Spencer
An Insider’s Guide to the History and Rebirth of a Wine Region.
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.
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