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Sicily’s sweet-toothed capital Palermo goes crazy for Easter treats

9 Springtime tastes in Sicily

Sicilians rarely need an excuse to give in to their sugary cravings: this is a place where it’s socially acceptable to have ice cream for breakfast. Easter, however, is a traditional time to head to the nearest pasticceria (pastry shop) to indulge in island specialities made from prize local ingredients such as honey from the slopes of Mount Etna, almonds from Noto and jewel-green Bronte pistachios. Frutta di martorana (marzipan shaped and painted to look like fruit) is said to have been dreamt up by nuns to decorate otherwise bare fruit trees at Easter for the benefit of a visiting bishop; while cassata – a cake enhanced with ricotta and candied fruit – is another seasonal favourite. Pasticceria Cappello is one of the best spots to try both in the historic and crumbling streets of the capital Palermo. The café also makes a seven-layer chocolate cake that’s sparked a frenzy of imitation across town. When they’re not scoffing cannoli or granita, Palermitani can pick from the best of the stalls in markets such as Il Capo or Ballarò. Common snacks range from arancini (rice balls stuffed with meat sauce) to the more adventurous panino con la milza – veal spleen boiled in lard and served on a bread roll.

Market stalls in Palermo’s ramshackle Capo neighbourhood
PHOTOGRAPHS: SUSAN WRIGHT, BLENHEIM PALACE
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