Unravels the big island’s stormy history and complex myths – takes you to the high drama of Etna’s free firework displays and serene far-flung islands in the cleanest seas in Italy – reveals the fantastic architecture of Syracuse on the southeast coast and the ancient sites of Tindari, Himera and Solunto dotted along the Tyrrhenian coast – seeks out the souks of old Palermo and the temples of Agrigento – leads you to the best plate of swordfish involtini on Lipari and the finest wine in Marsala
Excerpt: Puppets and Mafiosi
The first Crusades of the 11th century gave the Normans a taste not only for conquest but also for chivalry. The first appetite they gratified in southern Italy, Sicily and England, the second in a strict code of honour and in the deeds of King Arthur, Charlemagne and Roland, ‘Orlando’ in Italian. Their new Sicilian subjects devoured the tales, and came to look upon the Norman kingdom as a Golden Age; the Normans stayed and built palaces, while none of Sicily’s subsequent rulers even bothered to visit, leaving the day-to-day corruption to viceroys and petty officials.
Dogged by centuries of injustice and misrule, the Sicilians preserved the Norman code of honour amongst themselves. Even the poorest illiterate could follow the adventures of Carlomagno’s paladins in the opera dei pupi, or puppet theatre, where the moral of the story is always the same: a man’s most important possession is his honour. ...click here to read the rest
Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls can be reached at: email@example.com