Crossroads of the Mediterranean

The Sicily Chronicles, Part II

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
672 Pages
Reviewed on 09/10/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Crossroads of the Mediterranean is the second novel in The Sicily Chronicles by Dick Rosano. Luca was not expecting his visit to Sicily to change his life forever, but it did. He met Vito, a strange man, and that meeting became the starting point of his journey as Vito narrated the history of the island. Starting from the time of the Romans to current times, Vito took Luca back to when Sicily was a much-coveted island, and every nation wanted a piece of it. With Vito’s gentle nudging in the right direction, Luca learned about Sicily as it was known many, many years ago.

Atmospheric and genuinely captivating, Crossroads of the Mediterranean is a spellbinding novel that I had a hard time putting down. I found the “How to Read This Book” section very interesting, and it frankly intrigued me. That piqued my interest and made me read on. I have always been interested in regional history and how civilization developed there. Dick Rosano gave us all that and a lot more. He gave an up-close and personal look into Sicily as it was tested by the Romans, Muslims, Byzantines, Normans, and countless others. I loved how the author took us back in time and made each of those historical milestones in Sicily’s history real. Each narrative was unique to the timeline, each character was fully developed, and the author left no stone unturned to make sure readers were getting the whole package. I loved reading the individual sections in the novel, and the funny anecdotes Vito added to the stories he shared. It was such an incredible and unique novel to read!

Kimberlee J Benart

Crossroads of the Mediterranean: Part II of The Sicily Chronicles by Dick Rosano is a work of historical fiction which picks up where Part I left off. Luca Siragusa, an American college professor, travels to Sicily in the summer of 2018 to investigate his roots. He meets Vito Trovato, an elderly man with deep knowledge of Sicilian, European, and Mediterranean history. Vito tells Luca the history of Sicily as if he lived it, from the first century BCE through medieval and modern times. These conversations about different periods in the island’s history alternate with stories from those periods which weave fictional persons, places, and events with real ones. Maps, a table of ancient place names, and lists of fictional and historical characters and vocabulary are included.

In Crossroads of the Mediterranean, Dick Rosano presents a history of Sicily from the first century BCE to the present day. The narrative moves at a good pace. I enjoyed the use of the chats between Luca and Vito to frame the short stories set in historical times. The stories brought the history to life and added drama while conveying key facts about important events, accomplishments, people, and the political and socioeconomic forces at work in the region. You can’t help but be amazed at the number of civilizations, cultures, empires, kingdoms, and countries that controlled, governed, or impacted the island in terms of agriculture, architecture, art, language, trade, religion, education, politics, and civic development. An entertaining and informative overview of Sicilian history. Highly recommended.

Romuald Dzemo

Crossroads of the Mediterranean is the second book in the Sicily Chronicles by Dick Rosano, a historical novel that places readers where history comes to life. It follows the story of Luca Siragusa, a man who is spurred on by his family name that roughly translates to the name of a city. He books a flight with the primary intent of going through church records and official files to uncover details of his family’s line, generations before emigrating to the US. At the Café Amadeo, he meets Vito Trovato, a man of indecipherable age, although clearly into his eighties or nineties, who continues his unveiling of the mystery that is Sicily, exploring with him a history that is as rich as it is ancient, dating back to the period of the Roman Empire from 71 B.C.E. – 350 C.E. The book takes readers through the most significant periods in the history of an enviable city sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean.

Dick Rosano is not just a great storyteller; the reader is left in no doubt that they have been taught by a great researcher. The novel takes readers through different timelines in the city’s history, from the time of the Roman conquests with historical events like Octavian’s victory over Sextus Pompei and what it meant for Sicily to the invasions by the Byzantines, Muslims, Normans, and the French. Crossroads of the Mediterranean is a novel that brilliantly documents the history of a coveted piece of land and why it became the melting pot of civilizations. It is told in a lively voice and I particularly enjoyed the way the personality of the old man, Vito, emerges through the writing. A breathtaking journey into history and a novel that entertains and informs readers. Deftly written and articulate.

Gobi Jane

Reading Crossroads of the Mediterranean: The Sicily Chronicles, Part II by Dick Rosano felt like having one of the best history classes on an ancient city that has experienced abuse from many barbarians and conquerors. Luca’s journey to his parents' home of origin is one that he undertakes out of curiosity about discovering his lineage. But meeting Vito, an old man, turns a simple quest into an adventure through time and history. He learns a lot from the old man who takes him on a journey through the history of the land of his ancestors, a history that starts with the invasions of Sicily by the Romans between 71 B.C.E. – 350 C.E. and moves through dramatic moments that include other invaders such as the Byzantines, Muslims, Normans, Aragonese, Bourbons, and others.

The book is written in a lighthearted tone and is filled with great descriptions of elements of the city and historical relics. It is interesting to follow the conversations between Luca and Vito. The old man is a living historical encyclopedia and his knowledge and wisdom fascinated me. The book has a lot of humor and I enjoyed how strongly the narrative voice comes out. This novel gave me the urge to go and read some historical material and it establishes Sicily as one of those places readers and travelers will want to visit. Crossroads of the Mediterranean by Dick Rosano is well-written, filled with imagery and elements of adventure. The author knows how to bring history to life and there are details that grabbed my attention in a powerful way. It is a wonderful read for fans of travel, history, and adventure.

Jose Cornelio

Crossroads of the Mediterranean is the second installment in The Sicily Chronicles by Dick Rosano and it continues the relationship between a young professor and an enigmatic old man as they explore the history of one of the most exotic places in the world. In the first installment, readers encounter Luca as he travels to Sicily to find out more about the city where his forebears originated and stumbled on a rich history, thanks to his encounter with Vito. In this volume, he is back to explore the city and especially find out more about the town after which his family took its name: Siracusa. Follow the protagonist and his guide through a story that explores the history of a city back to the time of the Romans in 71 B.C.E. to 350 CE, the barbarians from 440 C.E. to 660 C.E., the Byzantines, the Muslims, Normans, and the Swabians. Each of these powers wanted more than just a piece of this precious island in the Mediterranean. But why?

The author brings ancient history to life in this new installment and it is interesting to follow the tales of conquerors and witness the footprints they left in the city. There are places I have become familiar with, such as the Café Amadeo, which feels like a character in the story. It has a life of its own. The writing is beautiful and filled with vivid and terrific descriptions. The author’s characteristic humor, epitomized in the old man Vito, is one of the distinctive traits of the narrative. Dick Rosano’s novel is well-researched, and it is fascinating what the author has done with the material. He has written a story that reads naturally and brought to life historical characters that readers will love, like some of the familiar names from ancient Rome and anecdotes about them. Crossroads of the Mediterranean is a very compelling historical novel, a story with a strong appeal to fans of travel, and one that features other interesting tales in its development.