The history of southern Italy is entirely distinct from that of northern Italy (the two regions were distinct cultural and political entities until 1868), but it has never been given its own historical due. The myriad influences that shaped modern civilisation in the Mediterranean come together in southern Italy and Sicily - the region once known as the 'Kingdom of the Two Sicilies'. What the rest of the world recognises as Italian culture - from opera to pizza - was born in the South. Yet negative images of its poverty, violence, superstition and nearness to Africa fuelled stereotypes of what was and was not acceptably 'European'. From the Normans and Angevins through Spanish and Bourbon rule to the unification of Italy, historian Tommaso Astarita explores the intellectual, religious, economic and political history of this fascinating region and delivers an accessibly written book that is not just colourful and scholarly but also wholly engrossing.