A sweet itinerary in the Italian literature


Several literature authors were born in Sicily and they told about our Island, praising its beauties and accusing its bad habits. In narrations about Sicily it’s always possible to find many mentions about its food delicacies; it seems to taste them reading their descriptions. Sicilian confectionary has a long tradition available in ancient literary references.

Studies revealed a great sweets production during the pre Hellenic age;  the mylloy, for example, were flat cakes with honey and sesame prepared during spring celebration.

Plato praises Syracuse’s delicacies, writing about  “a delicious cake adorned with pistachios, dates and nuts.”

Cato’s “De agri cultura” describes  an ancient version of cassata, the placenta, a baked cake with cheese, flour and honey.

Arabic domination enriched Sicilian confectionary with granita and gelato, sweets appreciated by tourists during their  summer tour under the Island’s  burning sun.

Spanish have the merit to spread chocolate in Sicily,  importing it from America and introducing an ancient Aztec processing. This processing is still used for the preparation of delicious Modica’s chocolate tablets and Leonardo Sciascia once wrote “when you eat Modica chocolate, you have the feeling to taste the archetype”.

Verga was born in Catania and he quotes in his novels the Ossa dei Morti, brown and white biscuits, very hard, with almond flour, honey and cloves which are available during All Saints’ Day. Speaking of Catania and religion,Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa describes in his popular novel “Il Gattopardo” the typical sweet prepared for Saint Agate celebration, Catania patron Saint.

Romans cut off Agate breast during her martyrdom and she is remembered by Catanese confectionary tradition with the Minne, the breast, a sweet with sponge cake, ricotta cheese, and almonds.

Tomasi di Lampedusa describes them as “sweets with an indecent shape…which profane Saint Agate breast”. The author wonders how the Church do not ban them because “ they sell them in convents and they eat them in feasts!”.

Andrea Camilleri is the main supporter of Sicilian cultural in contemporary literature and, consequently, of its food. His Commissario Montalbano is known for his wit and his gluttony. Often Camilleri writes about Sicilian food in his works as in the novel “Un mese con Montalbano” where one of the character has the typical Sicilian summer breakfast: granita and “brioscia”.

We all know that Sicily is the home of sweets and even the most important Italian writers praise its qualities in their novels which are popular all over the world.


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