Author: John Julius Norwich
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2015-07-21
Critically acclaimed author John Julius Norwich weaves the turbulent story of Sicily into a spellbinding narrative that places the island at the crossroads of world history. “Sicily,” said Goethe, “is the key to everything.” It is the largest island in the Mediterranean, the stepping-stone between Europe and Africa, the link between the Latin West and the Greek East. Sicily’s strategic location has tempted Roman emperors, French princes, and Spanish kings. The subsequent struggles to conquer and keep it have played crucial roles in the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful dynasties. Yet Sicily has often been little more than a footnote in books about other empires. John Julius Norwich’s engrossing narrative is the first to knit together all of the colorful strands of Sicilian history into a single comprehensive study. Here is a vivid, erudite, page-turning chronicle of an island and the remarkable kings, queens, and tyrants who fought to rule it. From its beginnings as a Greek city-state to its emergence as a multicultural trading hub during the Crusades, from the rebellion against Italian unification to the rise of the Mafia, the story of Sicily is rich with extraordinary moments and dramatic characters. Writing with his customary deftness and humor, Norwich outlines the surprising influence Sicily has had on world history—the Romans’ fascination with Greek civilization 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. This volume has been a long time coming—Norwich began to explore Sicily’s colorful history during his first visit to the island in the early 1960s. The dean of popular historians leads his readers through the millennia with the steady narrative hand of a master teacher or the world’s most learned tour guide. Like the island itself, Sicily is a book brimming with bold flavors that begs to be revisited again and again. Praise for Sicily “Suavely readable . . . The very model of a popular historian, [Norwich] writes to give pleasure to the common reader. And what pleasure it is.”—The Wall Street Journal “Entertaining on every page . . . There is something ancient and sorrowful in Sicily, ‘some dark, brooding quality,’ just as captivating as its spellbinding history or its beautiful and varied landscapes, from beaches to lemon groves, pine forests to volcanoes. . . . The most amiable and freewheeling of guides, Norwich will always find time for the amusing anecdote.”—The Sunday Times “Utterly engrossing . . . written with passion about the art and architecture of this magical island, filled with gossipy tidbits and sweeping historical theories.”—The Daily Beast “Dazzling . . . Norwich is an elegantly graceful and entertaining storyteller.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch “Charming . . . richly nuanced history relayed with enormous fondness.”—Kirkus Reviews “A brisk and always-lively tour.”—Open Letters Monthly “Norwich is deeply in love with Sicily. [His] boundless affection has inspired a determined effort to understand its painful past. The result is impressionistic, as love often is.”—The Times “Norwich sketches personalities vividly. . . . He does the island and the reader a generous service in providing such an amiable introduction.”—The Sunday Telegraph “Norwich tells [Sicily’s] long, sad but fascinating story with sympathy and brio.”—Literary Review From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Sandra Benjamin
Release Date: 2010-04-20
Tourists, armchair travelers, and historians will all delight in this fluid narrative that can be read straight through, dipped into over time, or used as a reference guide to each period in Sicily’s fascinating tale. 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, and Albanians. Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Byzantines, Muslims, Normans, Hohenstaufens, Spaniards, Bourbons, the Savoy Kingdom of Italy and the modern era have all held sway, and left lasting influences on the island’s culture and architecture. Sicily’s character has also been determined by what passed it by: events that affected Europe generally, namely the Crusades and Columbus’s discovery of the Americas, remarkably had little influence on Italy’s most famous island. Maps, biographical notes, suggestions for further reading, a glossary, pronunciation keys, and much more make this unique book as essential as it is enjoyable. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Giovanni Francesio
Release Date: 2013
Few places in the world have experienced such an intense and eventful history as Sicily. Rocked by revolts and power-struggles, rejoicing in great splendour and freedoms, over thousands of years this small island has been a crossroads for many peoples, r
Author: John Julius Norwich
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Release Date: 2016-08-02
A portrait of world civilization told through the stories of the world's greatest cities from ancient times to the present. Today, for the first time in history, the majority of people in the world live in cities. The implications and challenges associated with this fact are enormous. But how did we get here? From the origins of urbanization in Mesopotamia to the global metropolises of today, great cities have marked the development of human civilization. The Great Cities in History tells their stories, starting with the earliest, from Uruk and Memphis to Jerusalem and Alexandria. Next come the fabulous cities of the first millennium: Damascus and Baghdad, Teotihuacan and Tikal, and Chang’an, capital of Tang Dynasty China. The medieval world saw the rise of powerful cities such as Palermo and Paris in Europe, Benin in Africa, and Angkor in southeast Asia. The last two sections bring us from the early modern world, with Isfahan, Agra, and Amsterdam, to the contemporary city: London and New York, Tokyo and Barcelona, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. The distinguished contributors, including Jan Morris, Michael D. Coe, Simon Schama, Orlando Figes, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Misha Glenny, Susan Toby Evans, and A. N. Wilson, evoke the character of each place—people, art and architecture, government—and explain the reasons for its success.
"Keahey's exploration of this misunderstood island offers a much-needed look at a much-maligned land."—Paul Paolicelli, author of Under the Southern Sun Sicily is the Mediterranean's largest and most mysterious island. Its people, for three thousand years under the thumb of one invader after another, hold tightly onto a culture so unique that they remain emotionally and culturally distinct, viewing themselves first as Sicilians, not Italians. Many of these islanders, carrying considerable DNA from Arab and Muslim ancestors who ruled for 250 years and integrated vast numbers of settlers from the continent just ninety miles to the south, say proudly that Sicily is located north of Africa, not south of Italy. Seeking Sicily explores what lies behind the soul of the island's inhabitants. It touches on history, archaeology, food, the Mafia, and politics and looks to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Sicilian authors to plumb the islanders' so-called Sicilitudine. This "culture apart" is best exemplified by the writings of one of Sicily's greatest writers, Leonardo Sciascia. Seeking Sicily also looks to contemporary Sicilians who have never shaken off the influences of their forbearers, who believed in the ancient gods and goddesses. Author John Keahey is not content to let images from the island's overly touristed villages carry the story. Starting in Palermo, he journeyed to such places as Arab-founded Scopello on the west coast, the Greek ruins of Selinunte on the southwest, and Sciascia's ancestral village of Racalmuto in the south, where he experienced unique, local festivals. He spent Easter Week in Enna at the island's center, witnessing surreal processions that date back to Spanish rule. And he learned about Sicilian cuisine in Spanish Baroque Noto and Greek Siracusa in the southeast, and met elderly, retired fishermen in the tiny east-coast fishing village of Aci Trezza, home of the mythical Cyclops and immortalized by Luchino Visconti's mid-1940s film masterpiece, La terra trema. He walked near the summit of Etna, Europe's largest and most active volcano, studied the mountain's role in creating this island, and looked out over the expanse of the Ionian Sea, marveling at the three millennia of myths and history that forged Sicily into what it is today.
Author: Joseph Farrell
Publisher: Interlink Publishing
Release Date: 2014-06-19
Long before it became an Italian offshore island, Sicily was the land in the center of the Mediterranean where the great civilizations of Europe and Northern Africa met. In ancient times it was the scene of conflicts between Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans and there are still more, better preserved Greek temples in Sicily than in the whole of mainland Greece. An Arab invasion in 827 made Sicily home to an Islamic culture, and through Sicily the Arabs introduced to Europe a range of products from sugar to pasta. Other conquering forces included the Catalan-Aragonese, the Spanish, the French, the Austrians and even the British who invented Marsala wine. Sicily today is familiar and unfamiliar, modernized and unchanging. Visitors will find in an out-of-the-way town an Aragonese castle, will stumble across a Norman church by the side of a lesser travelled road, will see red Muslim-styles domes over a Christian shrine, will find a Baroque church of breathtaking beauty in a village, will catch a glimpse from the motorway of a solitary Greek temple on the horizon and will happen on a the celebrations of the patron saint of a run-down district of a city, and will stop and wonder. There is more to Sicily than the Godfather and the mafia. • Land of Myth and Religious Feast: The myth of Persephone at the lake of Pergusa: the Holy Week processions in Enna and Erice; the festivities for St. Rosalia in Palermo, St. Agatha in Catania, St. James in Caltagirone. • History in Stone: The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento; Norman cathedrals in Palermo, Monreale and Cefalú; Saracen and Aragonese castles; Arab-Norman-Byzantine mosaics in the Palace of the Normans in Palermo, • Islands and Cities: The Aeolian Islands with their volcanoes at Stromboli and Vulcano; the hauntingly beautiful cities of Taormina and Cefalú; Mount Etna; the eighteenth-century Baroque towns of Ragusa and Noto.
Author: Peter Robb
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: 2014-08-05
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year From the author of M and A Death in Brazil comes Midnight in Sicily. South of mainland Italy lies the island of Sicily, home to an ancient culture that--with its stark landscapes, glorious coastlines, and extraordinary treasure troves of art and archeology--has seduced travelers for centuries. But at the heart of the island's rare beauty is a network of violence and corruption that reaches into every corner of Sicilian life: Cosa Nostra, the Mafia. Peter Robb lived in southern Italy for over fourteen years and recounts its sensuous pleasures, its literature, politics, art, and crimes.
Author: Karla Mallette
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Release Date: 2011-06-06
When Muslim invaders conquered Sicily in the ninth century, they took control of a weakened Greek state in cultural decadence. When, two centuries later, the Normans seized control of the island, they found a Muslim state just entering its cultural prime. Rather than replace the practices and idioms of the vanquished people with their own, the Normans in Sicily adopted and adapted the Greco-Arabic culture that had developed on the island. Yet less than a hundred years later, the cultural and linguistic mix had been reduced, a Romance tradition had come to dominate, and Sicilian poets composed the first body of love lyrics in an Italianate vernacular. Karla Mallette has written the first literary history of the Kingdom of Sicily in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Where other scholars have separated out the island's literature along linguistic grounds, Mallette surveys the literary production in Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Romance dialects, in addition to the architectural remains, numismatic inscriptions, and diplomatic records, to argue for a multilingual, multicultural, and coherent literary tradition. Drawing on postcolonial theory to consider institutional and intellectual power, the exchange of knowledge across cultural boundaries, and the containment and celebration of the other that accompanies cultural transition, the book includes an extensive selection of poems and documents translated from the Arabic, Latin, Old French, and Italian. The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250 opens up new venues for understanding the complexity of a place and culture at the crossroads of East and West, Islam and Christianity, tradition and innovation.
Author: John Julius Norwich
Release Date: 2007-12-04
This lively and dramatic book brings roaring to life the grand sweep of 5,000 years of history in the cradle of civilization. A wonderfully illustrated account of the civilizations that rose and fell on the lands bordering the Mediterranean, The Middle Sea represents the culmination of a great historian’s unparalleled art and scholarship. John Julius Norwich provides brilliant portraits of the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the French, the Venetians, the Popes, and the pirates of the Gulf. Above all, he deftly traces the intermingling of ancient conflicts and modern sensibilities that shapes life today on the shores of the Middle Sea.
Author: Viscount John Julius Norwich
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2011-05-31
John Julius Norwich examines the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter (traditionally - but by no means historically - the first Pope) to the present. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity. One was said to have been a woman, her sex being revealed only when she improvidently gave birth to a baby during a papal procession. Almost as shocking was Formosus whose murdered corpse was exhumed, clothed in pontifical vestments, propped up on a throne and subjected to trial. From the glories of Byzantium to the decay of Rome, from the Albigensian Heresy to controversy within the Church today, The Popes is superbly written, witty and revealing.
In Sicily, decorated carts (carretti) pulled by horses and donkeys over country paths are an important creative cultural expression. These carts feature visions of the saints, Charlemagne, operatic scenes, and the histories of Napoleon, Columbus, Cortez, and even Mussolini. The authors examine the history, culture and use of these carts, as well as the generations of artisans who decorated them. They include who owned them, which museums have the best examples, where to buy the carts and over 100 vintage black and white and fourcolor illustrations giving the best examples of these pieces of art.
Author: John Julius Norwich
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Release Date: 2017-04-04
John Julius Norwich—“the very model of a popular historian” (Wall Street Journal)—is acclaimed for his distinctive ability to weave together a fascinating narrative through vivid detail, colorful anecdotes, and captivating characters. Here, he has crafted a bold tapestry of Europe and the Middle East in the early sixteenth century, when four legendary rulers towered over the era. Francis I of France was the personification of the Renaissance, and a highly influential patron of the arts and education. Henry VIII, who was not expected to inherit the throne but embraced the role with gusto, broke with the Roman Catholic Church and appointed himself head of the Church of England. Charles V was the most powerful industrious man of the time, and was unanimously elected Holy Roman Emperor. Suleiman the Magnificent—who stood apart as a Muslim—brought the Ottoman Empire to its apogee of political, military, and economic power. Against the vibrant background of the Renaissance, these four men collectively shaped the culture, religion, and politics of their respective domains. With remarkable erudition, John Julius Norwich delves into this entertaining and layered history, indelibly depicting four dynamic characters and how their incredible achievements—and obsessions with one another—changed European history.
Author: Jeremy Dummett
Release Date: 2015-03-30
Palermo - the capital of Sicily - is a destination with a difference. The city is a treasure trove of original monuments and works of art, combined with architecture of grand proportions. Yet it also has a grittier side, shown by the continuing influence of the mafia. Jeremy Dummett here provides a concise overview of Palermo's eventful history, together with a survey of its most important monuments and sites. He looks at the influences of the city's various ancient rulers - the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and Normans - as well as its more recent incarnation as part of the Italian state. In addition to being an essential companion for visitors to Palermo, this book can be equally enjoyed as a standalone history of the city and its place at the heart of Sicily.
Author: Helena Attlee
Publisher: Penguin UK
Release Date: 2014-04-03
Travellers have always been thrilled by the sight of citrus in Italy, where dark leaves and bright fruit seem to charge the landscape, making the trees symbols of a sun-soaked, poetic vision of the country. Citrus also holds a special place in the Italian imagination, and in The Land Where Lemons Grow, Helena Attlee sets out to explore its curious past and its enduring resonance in Italian culture. Building on a life of travel and work in Italy, she undertakes a journey encompassing the sticky streets of Ivrea during the Battle of Oranges, the comfortable gardens of Tuscany's villas and a magic triangle of land in Sicily, where the best blood oranges in the world grow in the shadow of a volcano. She maps the citron's long migration from the foothills of the Himalayas to the shores of southern Italy, traces the bitter juice of Seville oranges through ancient Roman and Renaissance cookery books, exposes early manifestations of the Mafia during the nineteenth-century citrus boom, and laments the loss of landscapes shaped by citrus cultivation. The book is a celebration of the unique qualities of Italy's citrus fruit, from bergamot that will thrive only on a short stretch of coastline, to Calabria's Diamante citrons, vital to Jews all over the world during the celebration of Sukkoth. The Land Where Lemons Grow is a heady mixture of travel writing, history, horticulture and art; a unique journey through Italy's cultural, culinary and political past. Helena Attlee is the author of four books about Italian gardens, and others on the cultural history of gardens around the world. Helena is a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and has worked in Italy for nearly 30 years.