Travel Notes blog
From fiction to food: The best books about the Mediterranean
by Clare Evans
9 min read

From fiction to food: The best books about the Mediterranean

From fiction to food: The best books about the Mediterranean
These are the best books about Greece, Corsica, Sicily and Puglia to help you immerse yourself in the local culture and enhance your time away.
Table of contents

Whether you’re interested in history, novels, cooking, biography or travel, it’s always inspiring to read about the Mediterranean. We are excited to share some of our all-time favourite books about Greece, Corsica, Puglia and Sicily that you can enjoy on your luxury villa holiday.

The vast majority are still in print, although a few are only available as Kindle editions and, for one or two, you may have to explore secondhand options — but we think tracking down a great book is all part of the experience.


© The Magus by John Fowles

The 5 top books about Greece

Creating a list of our favourite books about Greece is almost impossible — think about all those great philosophers, playwrights, historians, epicists and poets the country has seen over the years. We’ve done our best, but please let us know if you think there are any books about Greece we’ve missed that deserve a place on our list.

1. A Resilient Spirit: Greek Life During the Lost Decade by David Krasnostein

A beautifully crafted collection of black and white photographs by artist David Krasnostein documenting Greece's great depression (which lasted from 2008 to 2018).

Why not stay in our gorgeous Lefkada villa Penio while reading this novel? Not only does this villa have a beautiful contemporary design and a stunning panoramic position, it is owned by Krasnostein himself.

Available from

2. The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell

This hugely popular trio of books — My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods — has sold millions since they were first published. They provide a wonderfully carefree, nostalgic glance at Gerald Durrell's formative years growing up on the island of Corfu with his eccentric family.


Download our inspiring Corfu itinerary

3. Byron's War: Romantic Rebellion, Greek Revolution by Roderick Beaton

While staying on Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands, Lord Byron’s life changed. Leaving behind his image as a Romantic rebel — mad, bad and dangerous to know — he became a statesman and devoted himself to the fight for Greek independence. Byron's love for the Greek Islands was famous and most eloquently expressed in his poem, The Isles of Greece.

Are you planning to follow in Lord Byron’s footsteps? We recommend a stay at one of our gorgeous Kefalonian villas - perhaps the spacious Odyssea or tranquil Felicia.

4. Tales from a Greek Island by Alexandros Papadiamantis

Born on Skiathos in the Sporades Islands in 1851, Alexandros Papadiamantis is seen as one of Greece's greatest modern writers. Tales from a Greek Island consists of 12 short stories capturing the daily life of his fellow islanders at the turn of the twentieth century.

5. The Magus by John Fowles

A tale of dark psychological games, deception and deceit set on the fictional Greek Island of Phraxos. For two years, Fowles himself lived on Spetses, an island just east of the Peloponnese, and it’s widely assumed that Phraxos is based on this.


Find your perfect Greek villa


© Granite Island: Portrait of Corsica by Dorothy Carrington

Our 5 favourite books about Corsica

There are few better ways to find out more about the Isle of Beauty before or during your villa holiday with us than by choosing a few books about Corsica from our little online library. Below you'll find some unrivalled recommendations, including histories, cookery books, novels and much more.

All these books about Corsica are available in English, either in print (new or secondhand) or as digital versions, such as Kindle.

Click here to view our Corsican guide to enhance your holiday even more.

1. Granite Island: Portrait of Corsica by Dorothy Carrington

Probably the definitive book about Corsica in the English language, Granite Island is a beautifully written and fascinating account of Corsica's traditions, landscapes, histories and culture, written with verve, excitement and a perceptive eye.

2. The GR20 Corsica: The High Level Route by Paddy Dillon

The GR20 is one of Europe's most challenging trekking routes and this is one of the best guides for anyone interested in partaking in some excellent walks while on Corsica.

Find more excellent things to do while visiting Corsica.

3. An Account of Corsica: The Journal of a Tour to That Island, and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli by James Boswell

Samuel Johnson's biographer turns his astute eye on Corsica in a fabulous account of his trip there during a rather alternative Grand Tour. A must-read Corsica travel book.

4. Corsica: The Recipes by Nicolas Stromboni

A great collection of recipes that exalts the bounty of Corsica's pantry and the island's diverse culinary traditions.

5. The House at Zaronza by Vanessa Couchman

A historical novel of secrets, love, mysteries and betrayal played out in a remote village in the mountains of Corsica.


Discover our exclusive villas on Corsica


© Salento by 5 by Luciana Cacciatore, Lucia Erriquez, Audrey Fielding, David Fielding and Carlo Longo

Books about Puglia

Our travels through the literary world continue to Italy, featuring some of the best books about Puglia. If you love the region as much as we do, we recommend you dip into our little online library of recommended books.

All these books about Puglia are available in English, either in print (new or secondhand) or as digital versions, such as Kindle. Buona lettura!

1. Salento by 5: Friendship, Food, Music, and Travel Within the Heel of Italy's Boot by Luciana Cacciatore, Lucia Erriquez, Audrey Fielding, David Fielding and Carlo Longo

Written by five amici and devotees of all things Salentine, this interesting book incorporates historical titbits, traditions, personal impr essions, recipes, travel information and more.


Download our inspiring Salento itinerary

2. Italy Revealed: The Churches of Puglia by David and Jennifer Raezer

A fascinating guide to eight of the most iconic Romanesque churches in Puglia, including the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, the Duomo in Bitonto and the Duomo and the Chiesa di Ognissanti in Trani.

3. Ritual, Rapture and Remorse: A Study of Tarantism and "Pizzica" in Salento by Jerri Daboo

Puglia has many unique traditions, several of which date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. If the most emblematic feature of the Valle d'Itria is its trulli, arguably the defining cultural phenomenon of Salento is the pizzica, a dance with ancient roots and myriad contexts. Jerri Daboo's study is a must-read for anyone interested in dance.


Click here for more Valle d’Itria inspiration

4. Salento Flavors: The Taste of Tradition by Anna Maria Chirone Arnò

Those with a passion for all things gastronomic staying at our villas in Puglia are fortunate indeed, because our go-to chef, both for special in-villa dinners and cookery lessons, is Anna Maria Chirone Arnò. She has published several books about Puglian cuisine, and this is our favourite.

5. That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina

A tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion, set in 1980s Puglia and present-day London. Puglia offers the perfect setting, with its layers of history artistically woven into the story.


Find your perfect Puglian villa


© The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Books about Sicily

Next, we travel south from Puglia down to Italy’s largest island, the beautiful and historic Sicily. There are lots of fabulous books about Sicily and many great Sicilian writers, including two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature (Luigi Pirandello and Salvatore Quasimodo). Whether you're interested in history, novels, cooking, biography or travel, here are some of our all-time favourite books about Sicily to inspire you and add some local insight to your holiday.

All these books about Sicily are available in English, either in print (new or secondhand) or as digital versions, such as Kindle.


Find your dream Sicilian accommodation

1. Walking in Sicily (A Cicerone Guide) by Gillian Price

Sicily boasts several impressive mountain ranges, two active volcanoes (including, of course, Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe) and numerous other areas of outstanding natural beauty. Exploring it all on foot is highly recommended, and Gillian Price's guide is excellent. 

2. Sicily: A Short History from the Greeks to Cosa Nostra by John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich wrote a great amount about Sicily during his long life. His last book on the subject is an A-to-Z history, written with panache, humour and affection.

3. The Kingdom of Sicily: 1130-1860 by Louis Mendola

A well-written, informed account of 700+ years of Sicilian history, when, in name if not entirely in reality, it was an independent kingdom.

4. Sicilia: The Cooking of Casa Planeta by Elisa Menduni

Delicious recipes and instructive inspiration from the kitchen of the Planeta family, one of Sicily's most prestigious wine producers.

5. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

One of the great masterpieces of twentieth-century Italian literature, The Leopard is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand Sicily. A saga of an aristocratic family in decline at the time of the Unification of Italy in 1860, The Leopard captures the moment of transition between the old world and the new with finesse and remarkable clarity.

Once you finish the novel, why not take our Italian Cookery Class at the Leopard’s Kitchen?

Download our inspiring itineraries for more literature to enhance your next holiday to Sicily:

Whether you’re jetting off on a Greek, Corsican, Sicilian or Puglian villa holiday, we have an unrivalled local knowledge and a passionate team to guide you every step of the way. Whether it’s book recommendations or extraordinary Think Experiences, we’re here to help you and your group immerse yourselves in the local culture and have an unforgettable stay. Contact us to begin planning your Mediterranean holiday.