Fact: On March 30, 1282, as the bells of Palermo, Sicily, tolled for Vespers, a Sicilian woman crying “Death to the Angevins!” led a people’s uprising against the French garrison occupying the city. Within six weeks, Sicilian rebels slayed more than three thousand Angevin soldiers across the island. The turbulent events of 1282 became known as the Sicilian Vespers.
This spring, Chicago-based author Carlo Treviso is bringing a revolutionary voice to the historical fiction genre with his debut thriller novel, Siciliana. He hopes to shine a new light on Sicily’s engrossing past and resilient culture, and celebrate his family’s heritage in a way that he wanted to see in popular culture.
Treviso was born the first-generation son of a Sicilian immigrant family. Growing up, if he mentioned Sicily or his Sicilian heritage to any anyone unfamiliar with its past or culture, the typical response included some use of the notorious M word. Mafia. Mention Sicily in literature or film, and one might imagine an aging don stroking a white cat or a low-level mobster running a casino outfit.
Treviso determined that the only way to confront and change these negative perceptions was to change the narrative altogether. Treviso set out to paint a never-before-seen portrait of Sicily when the island was still considered its own kingdom. Originally known as the Kingdom of Trinacria, Sicily was once a grandiose realm of forbidden knights, forgotten fortresses, and fallen kings.
Set during the actual events of a bloody 13th-century uprising known as the Sicilian Vespers, Siciliana tells the harrowing tale of Aetna Vespiri, the daughter of a revered Sicilian knight, who leads a peoples’ rebellion against the French Angevin forces occupying Sicily. Aetna soon finds herself fighting not only for the nation she believes in, but also for the meaning of family.
Advanced reviews of Siciliana have been positive. Kirkus Reviews writes: “…Snappy prose…short, suspenseful chapters…offers major twists that will keep readers engaged. An intriguing work that embodies the ferocity of a woman wronged while contemplating complex questions of home and country.”
Treviso engaged Seattle-based, women-owned publishing house, Girl Friday Productions, to bring his novel to fruition.
“Perhaps one day, when a Sicilian daughter or Sicilian son tells someone about their family’s heritage, the response they receive will not be ‘Oh, like the Mafia?’ but rather ‘Oh, like Siciliana!'” Treviso said.
Siciliana releases on March 30, 2022, to commemorate the 740th anniversary of the Sicilian Vespers. The novel will be available in all formats on Amazon.com and other online retailers.
About Carlo Treviso
Carlo Treviso grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in film directing. Traversing the worlds of Hollywood and advertising, Treviso has written and produced commercial broadcast campaigns for well-known brands all over the world. The son of a Sicilian immigrant, Treviso enjoys bringing his passion and appreciation for Sicily to his readers. Treviso resides in Chicago, Illinois.