Castroreale: a jazz cookie in the Sicilian Middle Ages


Testo in italiano


In this episode in Castroreale: mustache, Scarpazza nickname , twenty-two, stars and planets, rickshaws and motorcycles.


Castroreale: a jazz cookie in the Sicilian Middle Ages

Perched between the valleys, between prickly pears and mountains, rises an ancient city of Sicily: Castroreale, the king’s fortress.

The sea envelops the panorama of this illustrious medieval city of ancient origins.

You can see the Aeolian islands in the distance and in ancient times the pirates were sighted.

As soon as you enter the village there is an almost fairy-tale air, almost surreal .

A cartoon scene, a jazz melody: something mysterious!

Meanwhile, today, Jack Jackfly, our tireless drone, is having a blast over the roofs of the village.

Here I am, have you called me?

I am  above the mother church where you are?

Puff puff pant pant, we are entering the Rainieri door, the only one left of the ancient city walls.

Just behind the door there is a strange guy, let’s see who it is.

He: I work copper.

Nar: What beautiful works and beautiful mustache!

He: I’m retired, I worked at the post office and then I dedicated myself to this job.

Nar: What is this  thing?

He: The ancient hot water bag, made of copper

You understand these Sicilians

Here is a paladin without a head

He: Let’s see if I find it

Nar: If you find it, come here

Well, let’s say goodbye to our friend with a big jazz mustache and we head towards the center of the village.

Yes, those mustache are really extraordinary, like jazz!

Walking here and there

Here we are in Piazza Duomo, where the president of the circle of the elderly is waiting for us

He is over 80 years old, he tells us that he did the fuitina and to the question “where did he bring his wife?”, he replies:

He Messina. We stayed 8 days

Nar: Listen, what is your nickname?

He: Engineer Scarpazza which means big shoes

Nar: Why? Are you an engineer?

He No, no. The fact is that when there was a dispute over land boundaries, they always called my father who was meticulous in establishing boundaries as an engineer. Maybe he did it with long steps, with  big shoes. And they called him engineer scarpazza.

Nar: What is your last name?

He: Longo

Nar: So it’s Longo Scarpazza!

He: Yes

Nar: How much do members pay?

He: Nothing, the facilities belong to the town all.

Ok then goodbye  engineer Scarpazza.

Here we are at the Cathedral.

It is a building dating back to the 1500s with extraordinary polychrome canvases and marbles.

There is also a very precious organ and one of the seven sundials still operating in Sicily.

Here is the gnomonic hole, above, do you see it?

As soon as we leave the church we meet again the engineer Scarpazza and the one next to him is his brother

I am the yongest and with  the oldest  there is over 30 years of difference!


The hospitality of Sicilians

Jack, the talking drone, flies over the roofs of the houses

He: I saw a house with clothes hanging in a small street close to you. Explore it, I repeat: explore it!

Who is she?

Nar: Hi ma’am, we are Sicilians who travel around Sicily. We always play the game of the clothes hanging:  so we think that by the clothes hanging  two women and a man live here.

She: Three women and one man

Ach! Almost .

Nar: What are  you going to  eat today?

She: Fresh ricotta

Nar: Listen, do you let us in now?

She: You find a mess but please sit down.

There is the son who is doing the aerosol, hundreds of small objects like in many Sicilian houses, an antique radio, her  daughter’s room  who works in Rome and a beautiful view of Piazza Duomo,

Sha: In this life remains only  kindness and hospitality.

There is also a photo of her with her husband, also with a mustache, like Nino the blacksmith.


The mysterious jazz cookies and ventiDDDDDue!

Sniff sniff It  smells like  jazz!

I mean,  it’s a magical, sinuous, full of indecipherable spices.

They are preparing homemade macaroni:  with a nice meat sauce how wonderful.

But I don’t care about macaroni

I want to know the mysterious recipe of the Abbess cookies, the cookies of the ancient nuns of Castroreale, famous throughout Sicily.

She: You can’t know I’m sorry, the recipe is secret

We can say what we put but the procedure is top secret

The main ingredients are anise seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Then there is flour, lard, sugar and yeast and there is no egg.

Here are the mysterious jazz cookies: they are hard or soft.

Let’s eat one. Uhmmm really good.

He: You can eat  them where you want: granita, wet with wine.

A customer enters

Nar: Hallo what do you need

He: Put everything in the card

Nar: You don’t pay today!

He: Are you a journalist selling cookies?

Nar: A question answered, fast: what is 11 + 11

He: Ventidddddueee ! Which is twenty – two

Eh eh, as they say in Messina twenty-two, with two d’s instead of one, they don’t say it anywhere else.

Ventidddddueee !!!

Uhmmmmm let’s look at this little shop.

Nar: Hallo we saw this fabric store and we entered. Ma’m what do you have in that bag ?

She: Ricotta

Nar: You’re going to  eat ricotta today too? But do you all eat ricotta here today?

She: Eeeeh … it’s a ricotta day

Now it’s time to go inside the medieval alleys of Castroreale.

Here you can breathe a jazz atmosphere, a bit surreal and a bit mysterious.

The stupendous bell tower of  the 1560 appears suddenly in the narrow, stone-paved alleys.

We are in the historic center, among the silences of this village of not even 2000 inhabitants.

Almost opposite the bell tower is the moschita arch that led to the synagogue, which reminds us that a Jewish community lived here until the 1500, and now instead it acts as an entrance to the panorama of the valley.

From here we go up again, towards the highest part of the town.

A dog barks and a lady that does the cleaning  shows us the way to the ruins of the castle.

Here we are: only the tower and a wonderful panorama remain.

And also a tree of Chinese mandarins: delicious.

We return to the village and go to visit a Planetarium led by Prof. Paolo Faranda.

How nice: he’s jazz too, of course!

Upstairs we meet school kids who are doing a book listing.

They are from Barcelona, ​​but Barcelona from Sicily, a big city near here and therefore they don’t know the precious jazz cookies of the Abbess that were given to  us this morning at the cookies  factory.

Nar: Listen guys, I’ll ask you a very fast stupid question .  don’t ask yourself the reason for this question but just think about answering me: eleven plus eleven

Them: Ventiddue!

Eh eh, i get kick out of  this double d in twenty-two!

Nar: You see guys, the inhabitants of the province of Messina are famous for doubling the d in twenty-two and then I like to hear it and I always ask this idiotic question. We hope you don’t grow up like me!

And fortunately they decide to take a picture with me anyway


A gorgeous meal

Now I’m really hungry.

They are waiting for us to eat in a house in the village.

Hey, but the owner is Maria, the president of the tourist office and her husband is Nino, the mustache blacksmith!

And there is also Ylenia, the daughter.

How much food they prepared!

Pasta, sausage, various meats, cheeses, cake, wine and more wine.

In our house there is no such word “I want little”,  says the daughter Ylenia

Nino, the father, instead tells us about his after-work

He: So I and other friends have a club. We do training every other evening, because we have a eating competition  We still don’t know when it will be, but in the meantime we train ourselves to eat. Tripe, sausage, pasta. We train while waiting for the race

Then they show us the photos of when they got married and Nino always has those jazz mustache!

Nar: Maria, did you fall in love with the mustache?

She: No I fell in love with his stubbornness and sweetness. He  used to stop in the street and pick up a flower for me . And above all he is a very good cook. After every jazz night he prepares dinner for everyone.

Jazz nights?

That’s why I heard this music constantly buzzing in my ears.

Maria tells us that an important jazz festival is held annually in Castroreale.

And so Ylenia shows us her beautiful portrait photos and, for the occasion, also makes one for  the crew with the promise to send it to us as soon as she  works it.

Thanks sweet Ylenia!


Splendid Local: Maria Agnano, President of the Castroreale Tourist Office

Come to Castroreale because it is a city of art, because there are hospitable people, because there is an extraordinary artistic heritage, because we are very near from the sea but with clean and fresh air. And don’t miss the cookies secretly handed down by our nuns. And don’t miss our jazz event.


The motoape tour!

Ok, with a full stomach everything proceeds better.

Let’s try to get into that little alley

Uhmmm what a strange house?

There are so many plants and strange things hanging.

Maybe a magician lives there!

Let’s see.


Strange chairs, brooms, buckets and a curious fetish

We  better run away!

Ylenia brings us to visit a bizarre guy.

The motoape: this is what jazz is!

We dash through the alleys of Castroreale

Here is a red 500: they greet with the motoape

Same generation!

Hey slow down, this alley is narrow!

Finished ride!

Our furious chauffeur, Enrico Munafò, opens the doors of a spectacular museum of motorcycles.

There are two wheels that have made films, races and commercials since  the 1900

There are also the first motorized bicycles of 1946 and many world champion motorcycles

If this is not jazz museum what is it?

Ok, game over!

Castroreale, thanks for the beautiful day, the mysterious cookies, the lavish lunch and for the always extraordinary Sicilian hospitality.

By the way, eleven plus eleven?


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