Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History by John Julius Norwich
Publisher: Random House
"'Sicily, ' said Goethe, 'is the key to everything.' The birthplace of Archimedes, Georgio de Chirico, and Muhammad al-Idrisi, it is the largest island in the Mediterranean. The stepping-stone between Europe and Africa, the gateway between the East and the West, the link between the Latin world and the Greek, at once a stronghold, clearing-house and observation-point, it has been fought over and occupied in turn by all the great powers that have striven over the centuries to extend their dominion across the Middle Sea. John Julius Norwich offers a vivid, erudite, page-turning account of an island and the remarkable kings, queens, and tyrants who fought to rule it. From its beginnings as a feared Greek city-state to its rise as a wealthy, multicultural trading hub during the Crusades, to its rebellion against Italian unification and the rise of the Mafia, the story of Sicily is rich with extraordinary moments and dramatic characters. Norwich outlines the surprising influence Sicily has had on world history--the Roman fascination with Greek culture dates back to their sack of Sicily--and tells the story of one of the world's most kaleidoscopic cultures in a galvanizing, contemporary way"--
Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean by John Keahey
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Drawing on the works of literary masters, a cultural tour of Sicily draws on influences ranging from historical and political to archaeological and culinary while exploring how contemporary Sicilians remain steadfast to the beliefs and traditions of their ancestors.
The Peoples of Sicily: A Multicultural Legacy by Louis Mendola
Publisher: Trinacria Editions LLC
Can the eclectic medieval history of the world's most conquered island be a lesson for our times? Home to Normans, Byzantines, Arabs, Germans and Jews, 12th-century Sicily was a crossroads of cultures and faiths, the epitome of diversity. Here Europe, Asia and Africa met, with magical results. Bilingualism was the norm, women's rights were defended, and the environment was protected. Literacy among Sicilians soared; it was higher during this ephemeral golden age than it was seven centuries later. But this book is about more than Sicily. It is a singular, enduring lesson in the way multicultural diversity can be encouraged, with the result being a prosperous society. While its focus is the civilizations that flourished during the island's multicultural medieval period from 1060 to 1260, most of Sicily's complex history to the end of the Middle Ages is outlined. Idrisi is mentioned, but so is Archimedes. Introductory background chapters begin in the Neolithic, continuing to the history of the contested island under Punics and Greeks. Every civilization that populated the island is covered, including Romans, Goths, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, Angevins, Aragonese and Jews, with profiles of important historical figures and sites. Religion, law, geography and cuisine are also considered. The authors' narrative is interesting but never pedantic, intended for the general reader rather than the expert in anthropology, theology, art or architecture. They are not obsessed with arcane terminology, and they don't advocate a specific agenda or world view. Here two erudite scholars take their case to the people. Yes, this book actually sets forth the entirety of ancient and medieval Sicilian history from the earliest times until around 1500, and it presents a few nuggets of the authors' groundbreaking research in medieval manuscripts. Unlike most authors who write in English about Sicily, perhaps visiting the island for brief research trips, these two are actually based in Sicily, where their work appears on a popular website. Sicily aficionados will be familiar with their writings, which have been read by some ten million during the last five years, far eclipsing the readership of any other historians who write about Sicily. Alio and Mendola are the undisputed, international "rock stars" of Sicilian historical writing, with their own devoted fan base. Every minute of the day somebody is reading their online articles. This is a great book for anybody who is meeting Sicily for the first time, the most significant 'general' history of the island published in fifty years and certainly one of the most eloquent. It has a detailed chronology, a useful reading list, and a brief guide suggesting places to visit. The book's structure facilitates its use as a ready reference. It would have run to around 600 pages, instead of 368 (on archival-quality, acid-free paper), were it not for the slightly smaller print of the appendices, where the chronology, the longest Sicilian timeline ever published, is 20 pages long. Unlike most histories of Sicily, the approach to this one is multifaceted and multidisciplinary. In what may be a milestone in Sicilian historiography, a section dedicated to population genetics explains how Sicily's historic diversity is reflected in its plethora of haplogroups. Here medieval Sicily is viewed as an example of a tolerant, multicultural society and perhaps even a model. It is an unusually inspiring message. One reader was moved to tears as she read the preface. Can a book change our view of cultures and perhaps even the way we look at history? This one just might. Meet the peoples!
Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History by Sandra Benjamin
The emigration of people from Sicily often overshadows the importance of the people who immigrated to the island through the centuries. These have included several who became Sicily's rulers, along with Jews, Ligurians, Albanians, Greeks, Vandals, Goths, Muslims, Hohenstaufens, Spaniards and Bourbons, all of who have left lasting influences on the island's culture and architecture. This unique book is as essential as it is enjoyable, aimed at tourists, armchair travellers and historians alike.
Sicily: The Cookbook: Recipes Rooted in Traditions by Melissa Muller
Sicily is set to become the category-killer for this region's cooking, in the way of My Calabria, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, or Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook. The few Sicilian cookbooks that exist focus on only the familiar classic dishes; none has the scope or the authenticity of this one. Sicily has many of the components that made Jerusalem a sleeper hit: naturally healthy Mediterranean cooking; evocative beautiful photography of an ancient destination; and recipes just exotic enough but not intimidating. This book brings modern-day Sicilian cuisine to life, giving context to it while offering more than 100 fresh and contemporary dishes people will want to cook today. The author, with a journalistic rigor, has traveled all over the island, documenting each town's fascinating historic food culture, but also uncovering the forward-thinking ways that new chefs and home cooks are using to revitalize recipes.
"In this grand part one of a two-volume saga, inspired by the real lives of history-making titans, The Florios of Sicily brings to life the dark secrets, the loves and betrayals, and the cruel acts of revenge that marked the Florios' century of influence. They were the uncrowned kings of Sicily: restless and ambitious, single-minded and determined to be richer and more powerful than anybody else. Yet their beginnings were humble. Vincenzo, who lost his father at eight, builds an empire from the docks of Palermo. Driven by an insatiable desire to rise above his station and prove a aristocracy that scorns him wrong, Vincenzo sacrifices family and love to transform his tiny spice shop into a trading empire. The name, Florio, soon instills fear and respect. The men of the family are stubborn, arrogant, philanderers and slaves to passions. Paolo shrewdly fights his way out of an earthquake-striken Bagnara to start anew in Sicily. Ignazio II rejects his one true love to fulfill his destiny as the head of a trading empire. Not to be outdone by the men, the Florio women unapologetically demand their place outside the restraints of caring mothers, alluring mistresses, or wounded wives. Giula, though only a mistress, is fiercely intelligent and wins over politicians and businessmen alike. Angelina, born a bastard, charts her own future against the wishes of her father. In this epic yet intimate tale of power, passion, and revenge, the rise and fall of a family taps into the universal desire to become more than who we are born as"--
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
This Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller is “a captivating story of love lost and found” (Kirkus Reviews) set in the lush Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hours. It was love at first sight when actress Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of his marrying a black American woman. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forged on. They built a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships, and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopted at birth. Eventually, they reconciled with Saro’s family just as he faced a formidable cancer that would consume all their dreams. From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother-in-law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s romance—an incredible love story that leaps off the pages. In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. “Locke’s raw and heartfelt memoir will uplift readers suffering from the loss of their own loved ones” (Publishers Weekly), but her story is also about love, finding a home, and chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and those who needed a powerful reminder that life is...delicious.
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