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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Jewels of Antiquity

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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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

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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)

Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History

Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History

by Ada Gabucci

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

This lively, illustrated survey of Ancient Rome's monuments, history and art is a terrific introduction. (ITL419, $19.95)

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 Explorer Map

Mediterranean Explorer Map

by Ocean Explorer Maps

  • 2006
  • MAP

This handy color map of the Mediterranean from Spain to the Black Sea and the Levant puts ancient sites and historic ports into context. With notable people, a timeline and descriptions of dozens of places. (MED89, $11.95)

 
Fodor's Venice's 25 Best

Fodor's Venice's 25 Best


by Citypack

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 96 PAGES

This shirt-pocket guide includes an excellent map of the city center and essential information. (ITL106, $13.99)

Knopf Guide Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast

Knopf Guide Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast


by Knopf Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2005
  • FLEXI-BOUND
  • 288 PAGES

A nicely illustrated compact guide to the region. (BLK76, $26.95)

A Short History of Byzantium

A Short History of Byzantium


by John Julius Norwich

  • HISTORY
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 432 PAGES

A richly detailed and evocative history of the span of the great empire from the fourth to the 15th century, brimming with intrigue, palace revolution and treachery. (TKY18, $19.00)

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas


by Roger Crowley

  • HISTORY
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

Crowley spins tales of three centuries of plunder and plague, imperial conquest and piracy in this riveting new history, chronicling the transformation of a tiny city of lagoon dwellers into the richest place on earth. (MED185, $18.00)

Croatia, A Nation Forged in War

Croatia, A Nation Forged in War


by Marcus Tanner

  • HISTORY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

A modern history of Croatia, from its medieval origins to Nazi occupation to the present day, written by the British correspondent who reported from the region during the events of 1993. (BLK23, $25.00)

The Balkans, A Short History

The Balkans, A Short History


by Mark Mazower

  • HISTORY
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 188 PAGES

With eloquence and clarity, Mazower addresses issues of geography, nationalism and nation in this indispensable survey. (BLK28, $15.00)

The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings

The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings


by R.W.B. Lewis

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1996
  • PAPER
  • 350 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls "a partial biography of Florence," beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical. (ITL47, $22.99)

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall


by Christopher Hibbert

  • HISTORY
  • 1982
  • PAPER
  • 364 PAGES

A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence. (ITL135, $16.99)

The Renaissance, A Short History

The Renaissance, A Short History


by Paul Johnson

  • HISTORY
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 196 PAGES

The history, background, literature, sculpture, paintings and architecture of the Renaissance in just over 200 lively, thought-provoking pages. (ITL774, $15.00)

Herculaneum: Italy's Buried Treasure

Herculaneum: Italy's Buried Treasure


by Joseph Jay Deiss

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 1989
  • PAPER
  • 222 PAGES

An artful and wonderfully written description of the daily life of the Romans at the time of the destruction of Herculaneum. (ITL41, $19.95)

Living in Provence

Living in Provence


by Barbara Stoeltie

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2012
  • HARD COVER
  • 197 PAGES

Bringing together the region's most remarkable interiors, classical and contemporary, this book paints a gorgeous picture of Provencal living. (FRA50, $14.99)

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)

The Genius of Venice, Piazza San Marco and the Making of the Republic

The Genius of Venice, Piazza San Marco and the Making of the Republic


by Dial Parrott

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2013
  • HARD COVER
  • 413 PAGES

With 112 color illustrations and four maps, the Genius of Venice presents the magnificent buildings of the celebrated piazza as, in the words of John Ruskin, the "living books of history" in this handsome cultural history. (ITA376, $40.00)

The World of Pompeii

The World of Pompeii


by John J Dobbins

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 662 PAGES

With contributions by well-known experts in the field, this wide-ranging survey also covers the buried surrounding cities of Campania. (ITA287, $53.95)

Balkan Ghosts, A Journey through History

Balkan Ghosts, A Journey through History


by Robert D. Kaplan

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 307 PAGES

Kaplan interweaves history, art and culture with his travels through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece in this regional portrait. (BLK02, $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, $20.00)

The Colossus of Maroussi

The Colossus of Maroussi


by Henry Miller

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 223 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Miller captures the spirit and warmth of the resilient Greek people in this inspired tale of a wartime journey from Athens to Crete, Corfu and Delphi with his friend Lawrence Durrell. (GRE05, $14.95)

The Glorious Adventure

The Glorious Adventure


by Richard Halliburton | Tahir Shah

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 232 PAGES

Halliburton and companions follow in the wake of Odysseus from fallen Troy to Ithaca in this rollicking account of adventures in the Mediterranean, originally published in 1927. (MED181, $18.00)

The World of Venice

The World of Venice


by Jan Morris

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1995
  • PAPER
  • 315 PAGES
  • BEST SELLER
  • FAVORITE

Morris displays her talent for research, telling anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited portrait of a beloved city, its history and inhabitants. If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite. (ITL12, $18.95)

Two Towns in Provence

Two Towns in Provence


by M. F. K. Fisher

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 1983
  • PAPER
  • 208 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Celebrated food writer M.F.K. Fisher contrasts village life in Aix-en-Provence with bustling Marseilles, evoking these two favorite places with anecdote and loving description. (FRN27, $18.95)

Waking Raphael

Waking Raphael


by Leslie Forbes

  • LITERATURE
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 432 PAGES

This literary thriller, set in painter Raphael's hometown of Urbino, follows the fate of an art historian mixed up in local affairs. (ITL536, $15.00)

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.