Reading for the Road:
A Few of Our Favourite Books About Sicily
At The Slow Road we answer to many names (wanderers, bon vivants, students of life) but first and foremost, we’re a group of dedicated travellers.
That’s why we love compiling reading lists that include those books—from novels to memoirs, and everything in between—that have really opened up our favourite regions.
In this post we’ll round up a few of the best books about Sicily, that gorgeous, sun-drenched island just south of mainland Italy.
By Daphne Phelps
This richly told memoir finds its start in 1947 when Daphne (an English woman) arrives at the small Sicilian town of Taormina to appraise a property she has inherited and assumes she will sell. Instead, she finds herself utterly swept up in the beauty of the hillside hamlet. To save the Casa she converts it into a pensione that attracts the likes of writers and artists such as Tennesse Williams, Bertrand Russell, Henry Faulkner, and Roald Dahl. Their stories become a part of her story.
By Peter Robb
Robb spent 14 years living in Southern Italy gaining knowledge for his ambitious book of non-fiction which delves into art, food, history, travel and the Mafia (and how they all come together). His report is vivid and unrelenting in its observations of the corrupt and troubled aspects of the south.
By Dacia Maraini
Translated into 14 languages, this historical novel–set around the splendid but squalid Sicilian aristocracy–was a finalist for the International Man Booker Prize. Following abuse at a young age, the protagonist loses both her hearing and voice and instead must liberate herself through education. In gorgeous prose Maraini reveals the unbridled spirit of a woman trapped by the limited confines of her personal and social position.
By Mary Taylor Simeti
Considered a definitive book on the food, traditions and recipes of Sicily, Sicilian Food is prep for any engaged cook heading to the island. Simeti’s thorough research had her ducking into convents and palaces in a ruthless quest for recipes all of which she records with such force of language that the reader feels quite along for the journey.
By Mary Taylor Simeti
Simeti’s evocative memoir is based on her journals and is structured season by season, leaning on the myth of Persephone. A New York transplant, Simeti arrived to Sicily as a young graduate in October 1962 and eventually set up her life there. While tracking the everyday she also details her more general knowledge of the turbulent history, the influences and the art of the Island.