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Additional Reading

If you search for "Sicily" or "Sicily (Italy)" on you will get close to 600 hits for books about the island and its people. Here are some that you might enjoy and that could enrich your experience in Sicily.

History and Culture

Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb - A fascinating book about the infamous Mafia trials in Palermo in the late 90s along with delightful asides on Sicilian food and culture. Available in paperback.

Mattanza: Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily by Theresa Maggio. A wonderful story about the famous Sicilian tuna hunt and the men who participate in it. Ms. Maggio spent several spring seasons on the island of Favignano to observe document this ancient ritual

Rebels and Mafiosi: Death in a Sicilian Landscape by JamesFentress. For centuries, Sicilian "men of honor" have fought the controls fo government. Between1820 and 1860, rebellions shook the island as these men joined with Sicily's intelectuals in the struggle for independence from the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples. This lively account - the first to locate the emergence and evolution of the mafia in historical perspective - describes how those rebellions led to the birth of the modern mafia and traces the increasing influence of organized crime on the island.
Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY and London, England.

On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal by Mary Taylor Simeti. Ms. Semeti.went to Sicily after college. She has never returned and in this book we find out why. From the book jacket: "You'll find no better discription of life in modern Sicily - its people, its politics and its beautiful landscape. The scent of oranges and almonds. The luxurious sheen of fresh-pressed olive oil. The intoxicating sweetness of a cake called "The Triumph of Greed." Criminals who gun down entire convoys of police. Religious festivals at which celebrants tidy up their family tombs and make archangels dance in the village piazza. Tales like these, along with all the myriad sights, flavors, and fragrances of Sicily, burst from the pages of this gem of contemporary travel writing."
Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, New York, NY.

Traveler's Tales: Italy, True Stories of Life on the Road.
Edited by Anne Calcagno. This is the collection of Italian stories from this great series of anthologies of modern travel writing. Travelers Tales, San Francisco.

Were You Always an Italian? by Maria Laurino. Ms. Laurino is a journalist who grew up in an Italian neghborhood in New Jersey with a mother who tried to underplay her southern Italian roots. This is her examination of her heritage with fascinating insites into northern and southern Italian aesthetics and the etymology and richness of words from the various dialects of rural Italy.


The Little Jesus of Sicily by Fortunato Pasqualino, Louise Rozier (Translator). This wonderful novella has been compared to The Little Prince for its ability to enthrall both children and adults.It appears to be a simple story of a boy picked to play Jesus on St. Joseph's Day but it leaves you with intriguing new ideas about Sicily and about life in general.

The Leopard
by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa. "Set against the political upheavals of Italy in the 1860s, The Leopard is a towering achievement, one of the greatest historical novels of all time. It depicts the complexities if Don Fabrizio, a Sicilian prince of immense sensual appetites, enormous wealth, and great personal magnetism. Around this powerful figure swirls a glittering array of characters - a Bourbon king, liberals and pseudo-liberals, peasants and millionaires - all nervously anticipating, in their own particular ways, the effects of popular hero Giribaldi on their lives.

The Sicilian
and Omerta: Novels by Mario Puzo (author of The Godfather) Perfect reading for a trip to Sicily!

Little Novels of Sicily : Stories by Giovanni Verga
, D. H. Lawrence (Translator). D. H. Lawrence said that Sicily in the mid 1800s was "the poorest place in Europe. A Sicilian peasant might live through his whole life without ever possessing as much as a dollar." Giovanni Verga, one of the greatest writers Italy ever produced, grew up in the circumstances Lawrence describes. In Little Novels of Sicily, first published in 1883, he poignantly re-creates the beautiful simplicity of Sicilian village life. In this collection, Verga seasons the grim lives of fishermen and farmers with comic elements, and evokes the mystical pleasures of the landscape in which he was born and to which he returned late in life.


Gangivecchio/Gangivecchio's Sicilian Kitchen – the cookbooks by Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene, the James Beard Award winning mother and daughter who will be feeding us on the day we move from Cefalu to Agrigento. These are much more than cookbooks. They contain a wealth of Sicilian history, culture and Tornabene family stories.

Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood
by Mary Taylor Simeti and Maria Grammatico. In the early 1950s, Maria Grammatico and her sister were sent by their impoverished mother to the San Carlo, a cloistered orphanage in Erice, an ancient hill town on the western coast of Sicily. It was a Dickensian existance - beating sugar mixtures for six hours at a time, rising before dawn to prime the ovens, and surviving on an unrelenting diet of vegetable gruel. But it was here that Maria learned to make the beatifully handcrafted pastries that were sold to customers from behind a grille in the convent wall. Today, Maria is the successful owner of her own pasticceria in Erice, a mecca for travellers the world over - including us!.

Italian Wine for Dummies by Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Ed McCarthy. It's not just Chianti and Sicilian wines are finally getting the notice they deserve. Hungry Minds Inc., New York, NY

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