Wednesday, April 18, 2012


After our morning in San Biagio Platini on Sunday, it was onwards to Agrigento for a guided walk around the old town, culminating in a visit to the Church of Santo Spirito.  This church is not normally open to the public, as its convent is home to a semi-closed order of Cistercian nuns, but our guide had arranged for it to be opened for us.

The Church was built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries but those lucky enough to enter are surprised by a Baroque interior with sparkling white figures in stucco on three sides.  These are probably the work of the Palermitano sculptor Giacomo Serpotta [1656 - 1732].

Now to the cloister:

And my ambition? Ever since I first visited Sicily I'd wanted to be able to buy dolci made by nuns and exchange my money for them through a grille. On Sunday I finally did this at Santo Spirito.  Well, it wasn't really a grille - more of a hatch - and a lay assistant was taking the money.  It was nice, however, to catch a fleeting glimpse of a face peeping from a wimple as the tray of almond biscuits was pushed towards me. I assure you they are delicious:

Nowhere is the tale of how Sicily's nuns traditionally made dolci better told than by Maria Grammatico to Mary Taylor Simeti in the book,  Bitter Almonds.

Many thanks to the person who uploaded this onto youtube:


Jenny Woolf said...

I've heard about Sicily's dolce making nuns, sounds so extraordinary.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Jenny. Yes, it is.


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