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Italy: The Secret of Sicily - Books & Movies
RECOMMENDED READING 
  • On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal by Mary Taylor Simeti. An American woman residing in Sicily portrays the Sicilian landscape and customs, both rural and urban, from the perspectives of both a "foreigner" and a resident. As she divides the year between Palermo and the countryside, she covers one year of her life in a beautifully written journal, showing the rhythm of the seasons, the extremes of climate and contrasts between the lush coastal region, wheat lands and the mountainous, more barren interior of the island.
  • The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa. In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, the charismatic Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of acres and hundreds of people, including his own numerous family, in mingled splendor and squalor. Then comes Garibaldi's landing in Sicily and the Prince must decide whether to resist the forces of change or come to terms with them. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was the last in a line of minor princes in Sicily.
  • Seeking Sicily by John Keahey. Many Sicilians, with their Arab and Muslim ancestors, who ruled the island for 250 years, 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  Sicilian authors to plumb the islanders' "culture apart" and the so-called Sicilitudine. 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.
  • Syracuse, City of Legends by Jeremy Dummett. Dubbed "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all' by Cicero, Syracuse boasts the richest history of anywhere in Sicily. The book is the first modern historical guide to the city, and it explores Syracuse's place within the island and the wider Mediterranean and reveals why it continues to captivate visitors today, more than two and a half millennia after its foundation. Over its long and colorful life, Syracuse has been home to Archimedes, Plato, Scipio Africanus and Caravaggio, who have all contributed to the rich history and atmosphere of this beguiling and distinctive Sicilian city.
  • Sicily: Through the Writers' Eyes by Horatio Clare. Sicily has a rich and fascinating cultural history, stretching back thousands of years and incorporating Norman Princes, Arab Emirs, a decadent Bourbon court, Mafia bosses and Carthaginian wars. This collection brings these varied characters and events to life enriching the traveler's experience, as it explores the never-ending historical interest and rich and fascinating literary culture of Sicily, stretching back thousands of years.
  • Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra by Peter Robb. The island of Sicily, home to an ancient culture, 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.
  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Sicily. Go straight to the best attractions Sicily has to offer. Packed with detailed information, maps, and beautiful cutaways and floor plans of all of Sicily's major sites, this guide explores every facet of the sun-baked island. Whether you desire to taste the varied and exotic flavors of rich Sicilian cuisine or explore the gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, this guide is packed with essential information to guide your travels.
  • Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History by Sandra Benjamin. 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. Focusing on the importance of the people who immigrated to the island through the centuries, including Jews, Ligurians, Albanians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Byzantines, Muslims, Normans, Hohenstaufens, Spaniards, Bourbons, the Savoy Kingdom of Italy and the modern era travelers, it highlights their lasting influences on the island's culture and architecture.
  • Palermo by Roberto Alajmo. Roberto Alajmo, a journalist, writer and a native of Palermo, shares with the reader the famous sights of Palermo, the scenes of murders, the gardens and parks, and the alleys and markets. He comments on the crazy traffic, the illegal building trade, the sea, the clichés, and the thoughts of the Sicilians in general and of the inhabitants of Palermo in particular.
  • Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey by Robert V. Camuto. Inspired by a deep passion for wine, an Italian heritage, and a desire for a land somewhat wilder than his home in southern France, Robert V. Camuto set out to explore Sicily's emerging wine scene. What he discovered during more than a year of traveling the region, however, is far more than the new wine frontier. Chronicling his journey through Palermo to Marsala, and across the rugged interior of Sicily to the heights of Mount Etna, Camuto captures the personalities and flavors and the traditions and natural riches that have made Italy's largest and oldest wine region the world traveler's newest discovery.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING 
  • The Leopard (1963) by Luchino Visconti. With this magnificent historical drama, Giuseppe Tomassi di Lampedusa's novel finally earned a widespread recognition as a remarkable epic. This is an Italian equivalent to Gone with the Wind, set during the tumultuous Garibaldi revolution of 1860-62. Burt Lancaster as the melancholy Prince of Salina, the aging aristocrat "leopard", accepts change as inevitable during the struggle for a unified Italy. The film is an intimate epic, with masterful cinematography, matched by the authentic splendor of the film's impeccable production design. The climactic hourlong ballroom scene is utterly breathtaking. Anchored by Lancaster's performance and the romantic pairing of Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, The Leopard is a sheer Sicilian perfection.
  • The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola is one of those rare experiences that feels perfectly right from beginning to end--almost as if everyone involved had been born to participate in it. Based on Mario Puzo's bestselling novel about a Mafia dynasty, Coppola's Godfather extracted and enhanced the most universal themes of immigrant experience in America: the plotting-out of hopes and dreams for one's successors, the raising of children to carry on the good work, etc. In the midst of generational strife during the Vietnam years, the film somehow struck a chord with a nation fascinated by the metamorphosis of a rebellious son (Al Pacino) into the keeper of his father's dream. Marlon Brando played against Puzo's own conception of patriarch Vito Corleone, and time has certainly proven him correct.
  • Cinema Paradiso (1988) by Giuseppe Tornatore. Cinema Paradiso is a complex, interwoven tale of wartime Italy, a boy's coming of age, and the history of cinema. This celebrated film follows Toto (Jacques Perrin), a Sicilian boy who persuades the town projectionist, Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), to teach him how to show films. Spanning nearly 50 years, the film draws parallels between Toto's life and those lives he sees on screen. As Toto matures into Salvatore, a successful Italian filmmaker, the Cinema Paradiso ages as well. Salvatore's return home for Alfredo's funeral is also a goodbye to his Paradiso, demolished to become a parking lot. The film's heightened sense of nostalgia subtly mirrors our humanistic love of movies, making it a tribute to cinema as an artistic genre.
  • Divorce Italian Style (1962) by Pietro Germi. This movie is a comedy milestone, a brilliant, biting satire that was originally conceived as a drama; directed with nonstop inventiveness by a filmmaker who had never done comedy; and featuring Marcello Mastroianni who cemented his international stardom with this performance. On the sun-blasted island of Sicily, Baron Ferdinand "Fefè" Cefalù breaks out of his heat and boredom-induced stupor long enough to be smitten with mad passion for his 16-year-old cousin Angela. But he's married to Rosalia, and the Italian Penal Code gives him no way out... except, of course, for catching his wife in adultery and availing himself of the patriarchal license to commit a "crime of honor."
  • La Terra Trema (The Earth Trembles) (1957) by Luchino Visconti. The second haunting film from director Luchino Visconti presents a wrenching study of a family struggling to find happiness against the backdrop of Sicily's fishing community. Real Sicilian locals played all of the villagers, whose lives undergo dramatic changes when they plot to overthrow the wholesalers depriving them of a decent living. Against the odds, they still enjoy love, laughter, and friendship within their community. Experience the drama and visual poetry of this international classic, now presented in its complete European cut.
  • One Hundred Steps (2000) by Marco Tullio Giordana. A young man's determination to put a stop to organized crime in his community puts him at odds with his family in this drama from Italy. As a child, Peppino Impastato was very close with his uncle Don Cesare (Pippo Montalbano), but was unaware that he was head of local Mafia operations. As he grew to adulthood, Peppino becomes a political activist and a member of the Communist party, thanks to the influence of a close friend and leftist artist. With his friends, he starts an underground radio station to speak out against the corrupt influence of the Mafia and their control of local government, bravely leading public rallies calling for citizens to stand united against organized crime. But Peppino's family still has strong ties with the mob, and as the young man and his comrades wage war against Tano and his men, Peppino's father does everything he can to bring his wayward son back into the fold.
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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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