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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Voyage of Ancient Empires

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXMED669. Buy these 5 items as a set for $83 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
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On Persephone's Island

On Persephone's Island

by Mary Taylor Simeti

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1986
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

Strong on the delights of rural life, Simeti's portrait of Sicily takes the form of a yearlong journal, capturing the spirit of the people, daily life, traditions and the land. (ITL03, $15.95)

Pompeii, The Day a City Died

Pompeii, The Day a City Died

by Robert Etienne

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 1992
  • PAPER
  • 215 PAGES

This indispensable pocket guide illustrates daily life in the city as told by its evocative frescoes, mosaics and treasures. (ITL01, $15.95)

The Ancient Mediterranean

The Ancient Mediterranean

by Michael Grant

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1990
  • PAPER
  • 374 PAGES

Grant, a well-known classical scholar, provides this comprehensive history of the peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean, including Egypt, Israel, Crete, Greece, the Roman states and many others. A very well-researched account of Western history's roots. (MED10, $20.00)

Mediterranean by Cruise Ship

Mediterranean by Cruise Ship

by Anne Vipond

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES

The best-selling, compact guide, featuring excellent local maps, hundreds of color photographs, concise background information and recommended excursions for ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean. (MED34, $21.95)

Mediterranean Cruises Map

Mediterranean Cruises Map

by Freytag & Berndt

  • 2010
  • MAP

A double-sided, full-color map of the Mediterranean, including the Iberian Peninsula, the Black Sea, North Africa and the Levant, at a scale of 1:2,000,000. (MED36, $14.95)

 
Malta & Gozo Map

Malta & Gozo Map


by Freytag & Berndt

  • MAP

This topographic map of the islands (1:30,000) includes a Valletta city plan. (MLT06, $12.95)

Sicily Map

Sicily Map


by Touring Club Italiano

  • 2011
  • MAP

A detailed map of Sicily (1:200,000) printed on water- and tear-resistant paper. (ITL181, $13.95)

Southern Italy Map


by Touring Club Italiano

  • MAP

A regional map of Italy, stretching from Rome to the southern tip. (ITL222, $14.95)

Eyewitness Guide Sicily

Eyewitness Guide Sicily


by Eyewitness Guides | DK Publishing

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

This superb guide to Sicily features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a synopsis of the island's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry. (ITL468, $23.00)

Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo

Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo


by Neil Wilson

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 184 PAGES

A compact, comprehensive guide to Malta, featuring maps, a good overview of culture, history and nature and plenty of practical information on excursions, accommodations and sightseeing. (MLT09, $17.99)

Beyond the Edge of the Sea

Beyond the Edge of the Sea


by Mauricio Obregon

  • HISTORY
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 132 PAGES

The adventures of Jason and the Argonauts, Ulysses and other explorers of the ancient world are recreated in this personal account of ships, navigation and geographical discovery. (MED50, $15.00)

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind


by Beppe Severgnini

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia. (ITL718, $15.00)

Olive, A Global History

Olive, A Global History


by Fabrizia Lanza

  • HISTORY
  • 2011
  • HARD COVER
  • 128 PAGES

Lanza provides an engaging, potted history of the modest fruit. The author explains the olive's use in cooking and ritual and its appearance in art, from Greek myth to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Also includes a selection of recipes. (MED183, $17.00)

Sicily, Three Thousand Years of Human History

Sicily, Three Thousand Years of Human History


by Sandra Benjamin

  • HISTORY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 498 PAGES

With clarity and authority, Benjamin traces the rich legacy of the Greeks and Romans, Vandals and Goths, Arab traders, Normans, Bourbons and others who have contributed to the multi-faceted history of the kingdom of Sicily. (ITL731, $24.00)

The Mediterranean in History

The Mediterranean in History


by David Abulafia

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 320 PAGES

A professor at Cambridge, Abulafia leads a team of eight historians in this engaging overview of the civilizations and societies affected by the great sea at the heart of Europe. Published in conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museum, the book features 150 color and 150 black-and-white illustrations. (MED79, $29.95)

The Middle Sea

The Middle Sea


by John Julius Norwich

  • HISTORY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 720 PAGES

A marvelous writer who has already written on Byzantium, Venice and the Sahara, Norwich spins his magic in this story of culture, trade and politics, royalty and rulers, wars and religion in the Mediterranean. (MED98, $21.00)

Vesuvius

Vesuvius


by Gillian Darley

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2012
  • HARD COVER
  • 144 PAGES

Darley unveils human responses to Mount Vesuvius, a place both feared and celebrated, from a cast of characters as far-flung as Pliny the Younger and David Hockney. This entry in Harvard University Press's excellent Wonders of the World series is a perfect introduction for travelers to Pompeii and Herculaneum. (ITA275, $22.95)

Ancient Sicily, Monuments Past & Present

Ancient Sicily, Monuments Past & Present


by G. Messineo | E. Borgia

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 72 PAGES

In this illuminating overview, ingenious overlays depict 17 important sites as they appear today and how they may have appeared in the past. (ITL733, $29.95)

The Fires of Vesuvius, Pompeii Lost and Found

The Fires of Vesuvius, Pompeii Lost and Found


by Mary Beard

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

With the panache of a gifted classicist, Mary Beard (Wonders of the World) conjures daily life in celebrated Pompeii, not only demolishing with particular relish the many myths that have grown up around the place but also emphasizing the limits of our knowledge. Some things we simply shall never know for certain. (ITA46, $19.50)

D.H. Lawrence and Italy

D.H. Lawrence and Italy


by D.H. Lawrence

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 495 PAGES

This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence's three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence's memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places, his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia. (ITL62, $18.00)

Midnight in Sicily, On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra

Midnight in Sicily, On Art, Food, History, Travel and La Cosa Nostra


by Peter Robb

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Combining interviews, research and essays on Sicilian history and culture, this vivid report by journalist Robb is a superb introduction to Italy's glorious, corrupt and troubled south. (ITL74, $18.00)

On the Shores of the Mediterranean

On the Shores of the Mediterranean


by Eric Newby

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 448 PAGES

A sparkling observer and famously entertaining, Newby tackles the Mediterranean in this merry classic account of travels to North Africa, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cairo and Jerusalem. (MED25, $18.95)

The Ancient Shore

The Ancient Shore


by Shirley Hazzard

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

Hazzard's lyrical collection of essays on the history, beauty, complexities and contradictions of Naples. Includes a celebrated New Yorker essay by husband Francis Steegmuller. (ITL967, $13.00)

Ironfire, A Novel of the Knights of Malta and the Last Battle of the Crusades

Ironfire, A Novel of the Knights of Malta and the Last Battle of the Crusades


by David Ball

  • LITERATURE
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 688 PAGES

In this rousing historical novel the fates of a young boy, his sister, one of the Knights of Malta and an inquisitor play out against the backdrop of the 16th-century Ottoman assault on Malta, the formidable citadel of the Knights of St. John. (MLT18, $15.00)

Italy in Mind

Italy in Mind


by Alice Powers

  • LITERATURE
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 349 PAGES

A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others. (ITL39, $18.95)

Italy, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Italy, A Traveler's Literary Companion


by Lawrence Venuti

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Not just a literary companion, this anthology is also a who's who of contemporary Italian writers that captures the spirit, history and allure of the country. (ITL466, $14.95)

Mediterranean Passages, Readings from Dido to Derrida

Mediterranean Passages, Readings from Dido to Derrida


by Grant Parker | Miriam Cooke | Erdag Goknar

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 416 PAGES

This compendium highlights 3,000 years of cultural exchange around the Mediterranean. With an assortment of maps, architectural drawings, photographs, paintings and historical and literary texts, it brings antiquity into conversation with the present. (MED139, $30.00)

Pompeii, A Novel

Pompeii, A Novel


by Robert Harris

  • LITERATURE
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES
  • YOUNG ADULTS

In this fast-paced historical novel set in Pompeii, a young engineer sets out to repair the Roman aqueducts and discovers the imminent eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Full of suspense and historical detail. (ITL560, $15.00)

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water


by Andrea Camilleri

  • MYSTERY
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 224 PAGES

The first of Camilleri's wildly popular Inspector Montalbano mysteries, nicely translated and shot through (pun intended) with not just memorable characters but also with Sicilian lore and politics. If you like the series, it continues in 16 more installments -- and counting. (ITL528, $15.00)

Birds of the Mediterranean, A Photographic Guide

Birds of the Mediterranean, A Photographic Guide


by Paul Sterry

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 192 PAGES

A slim, concise and clearly organized guide to 440 species of birds from the Mediterranean. Range maps and descriptions are opposite good, clear color photographs, digitally enhanced to aid in identification. (MED82, $29.00)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.