It used to be that a visit to Sicily was part of the Grand Tour of Europe undertaken by such luminaries as Wagner and Goethe. Closer to our time, Sicily has become a destination in itself. It is also a point of reference - and an especially attractive destination - for millions of Sicilian descendants in the diaspora of Sicilians who for one reason or another left Sicily two or three generations ago. In such cases a visit to this magical place takes on the nature of a pilgrimage.
Betsy Vincent (di Vincenzo) Hoffman's memoir of her first visit to Sicily describes this kind of experience. Beautifully illustrated with the watercolours of the talented Kathleen Citrolo Gwinnett - another American descendant of Sicilians who has visited our island - this lively if not very lengthy volume is a delightful read. Though not intended as a guide book in itself, it is useful as a primer, especially for those who prefer to wade into the subject instead of jumping in unprepared.
Not every sentimental journey will be similar to this one, but Ms Hoffmann's account of hers may be sufficient to start others thinking about the same kind of trip.
Betsy's description of her grandparents' experiences is touching. Here the human element is never absent. This kind of book reminds us that it is the people who make the place.
Dreaming of Sicily - A Travel Memoir can be ordered at CreateSpace.Com/3334027