Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kittling's Literary Tours: Montalbano's Sicily

I will be the first to admit that I'm an inveterate armchair traveler. I've never been able to afford to travel every place that I want to go, so it should be no surprise that I love books in which setting plays an important role. There are several mystery series where their settings could almost be called characters because they are so evocative. I can't help but picture the books' locations in my mind's eye as I read.

Sicily, right at the "toe" of Italy

Recently I finished reading The Age of Doubt, one of Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mysteries set in southern Sicily. Camilleri does such a wonderful job of bringing his setting to life. I can envision Montalbano's home on the beach. I can smell the food he loves to eat. As he travels from one crime scene to the next, I can picture the countryside. Shortly after reading The Age of Doubt, I wondered about traveling to Sicily to follow in Montalbano's footsteps. I'd forgotten all about the television series based on the books that is filmed there, so I was momentarily surprised by the number of hits that came up in my search. 

Montalbano's "TV house"
What really made me smile was seeing the house they use as Montalbano's when filming the series. It looks exactly as I'd pictured it in all the books I've read! (For some odd reason, that really makes me want to watch this television series.) Of course the beach has to be right there so Montalbano can go for a swim whenever he likes, and there's plenty of places to sit outside to eat and to watch the sea.

Some of the tours Montalbano fans can sign up for are through Sicilian tour companies (Sicily Life Tours, Sicily Travel Net, Sicily Travel Tours, Sicily Day Tours), and some are through travel agencies in the UK (Expressions, Long Travel, The Thinking Traveller). Montalbano isn't a hit show in the United States, so the only American website I found tours mentioned on was Expedia.

It is a lot of fun to browse through the websites to see what each tour consists of. Some tours are only a few hours. Some take an entire day, and you can also sign up for tours that last from three to four days.  

Most concentrate on the shooting locations for the television series, and since the production company did such a fantastic job in choosing Montalbano's home, it wouldn't bother me one little bit to see the rest of them. However, one company did specify a Montalbano literary tour for those of us who have only read the books. And did I mention that these tours aren't going to let us skip sampling the food? That would be a must for me; I've just read too many scenes of Montalbano enjoying his meals!

Regardless of what you may think of these tours, the money they can funnel into the local economy can be put to great use. For example, the popularity of both Downton Abbey and Outlander have given Highclere Castle and Doune Castle badly needed funds for essential restorations (like a new roof or two). 

Chances are that I will never take one of these tours, but I certainly did enjoy reading about them and looking through all the photos. I hope all you fellow armchair travelers (and Camilleri fans) will, too!


  1. Lovely post, Cathy. You probably know that I too am a confirmed armchair traveller through the books I read. Not just non-fiction but also crime fiction. I've read several of the Montalbano books and really enjoyed them... I must get back to the series. I love US based crime series the best I think but am currently reading Jacquot and the Waterman by Martin O'Brien. This is the first book in a series set in Marseilles in the south of France. I don't know if you've read any of them but the author has transported me there, I've never been but feel like I have now. An *excellent* read and will definitely read more.

    1. Oh oh. Your last recommendation to me was Mark Douglas-Home's Sea Detective series. You hit a grand slam with that one, so now I'll definitely be looking for Martin O'Brien's books!

      I'm very glad you enjoyed this post. :-)

  2. I'm a big fan of Camilleri's work, Cathy, and the setting is a part of the reason why. It's just so beautifully done, isn't it? And that's not to mention the food... I've seen some of those tour advertised onlie, and they're always so tempting...

  3. What a wonderful idea, to research tours of the area we're reading about. I've just finished Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec. Time for some travel! ;-)

  4. I am also a big fan of armchair travel and that's what I can do and do it fully. Whenever I read a book set abroad, I google photos, map, history, etc.

    I recommend the Montalbano TV series. It's so much fun and the locations are beautiful. The only problem is that I want to run out and find an Italian restaurant and eat pasta and pesce -- or at least cafe and biscotti.

    And also, the Young Montalbano TV series is great and Montalbano had a log of hair in those days. Lots of fun, beautiful scenery, lots of yelling and Salvo loved his dinners in his early days, too.

    1. I just have to figure out how to get Montalbano on TV. I'm going to have to make myself a note because I keep forgetting to check into it. It seems if I write something done, I do a better job of remembering.

  5. I write down everything in my daily planner, except breathe, shower, bush teeth, take vitamins, eat.

    That doesn't mean I do it all but it's there in writing. I keep a list of books to be read and movies and TV series to be seen, from the U.S. and Europe.


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