Did you know that the watchtowers located along the Salento coastline (the Italian peninsula's "heel") were built in order to guard against Muslim Turks? Did you know that the world's most important Arab and Islamic manuscripts are stored in the Vatican Library? Muslims' presence in Italy has left behind many signs, stretching from Palermo, up through the lands of Campania and Puglia, over the Apennines and reaching Venice, the "Gateway to the Orient". This book takes the reader on a voyage that begins almost a thousand years ago, without neglecting Islam's role in many contemporary Italian urban centres, such as Turin's Porta Palazzo quarter, where hamams and Arabic-language signs are plentiful.
This book is part of a new series hosting distinguished authors who transform Italian travel itineraries into passageways full of meaning. A visit to a museum, a historic city, or a natural park should not be a mere review of masterpieces or monuments, but rather a historically and culturally harmonious journey, or better yet a set of potentially parallel voyages, giving substance to stones, meaning to maps, colour to the past. Readers will feel like main characters participating in Italy's long history.
Alessandro Vanoli, a medieval historian, is an expert in Mediterranean history.