The whole of Italy should be thankful to Sicily for its amazing sweets that are loved by Italians and tourists alike. Cannoli and cassatas are the most well known traditional desserts originating in Sicily and they both have as basic ingredients ricotta cheese and candied fruit. Cannolo Siciliano, as the proper name is, is a long and tube shaped pastry, made of fried dough and filled with a ricotta based cream mixed with candied fruit, or chopped pistachios or chocolate chips. Cassata Siciliana on the other hand, is a round shaped cake, aromatised with liqueur, filled with ricotta cream and candied fruit and covered in a thin marzipan layer.
It’s usually decorated with a single cherry or more candied fruit. Both sweets have an amazing taste, very different to sweets you normally may have tried and as they are rather complicated to prepare at home, people usually enjoy them at the pasticherrie, Italian pastry shops, along with a coffee.
While you’ll find both desserts in most cafes in Rome, If you’re looking for the authentic taste of the delicious “cannoli” or the “cassatas” then i have two suggestions of typically Sicilian pastry shops which you will adore.
You can easily make this place your refreshing stop when you’re exploring the north side of the city and visiting the famous attractions around Piazza della Republica. This old fashioned café is only a few steps away form the magnificent Santa Maria degli Angeli, The Dioclitian Thermal Baths, Santa Maria della Vittoria and the National Roman Museum.
You will find it inside a not so elegant shopping arcade ( Galleria Esedra ) but you will be rewarded by the wonderful selection of sweets in a kaleidoscope of tempting colors, all tacked in one side of the café. On the other side, you will find a Panini bar with a big selection of freshly prepared sandwiches that people enjoy usually standing along the bar. You can sit at one of the tables outside, in the arcade’s space, and order the typical and delicious Sicilian cannolo. They prepare it in some variations, including one with chocolate cream, but most of all you have to try the original version with cream and candied fruit pieces. It is amazing! And really fresh and as large as they make it in Palermo, home town of both cannoli and Dagnino. As for their cassatas or the smaller version, the cassatinas, they are so light and full of flavor at the same time, that you’ll probably leave with a take-away package. And if you don’t, well that’s a great excuse to visit Dagnino again!
- I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza
Right in the heart of the historic center, next to the joyful Campo de’ Fiori market and the elegant Piazza Farnese, you’ll find the welcoming pastry shop of Signora Vincenza, who has dedicated all her life to perfecting her beloved traditional, Sicilian recipes. In her fantastic Sicilian pastry shop you’ll feel like you’re invited to an Italian grandmother’s home (nonna=grandmother). Old but elegant furniture, embroidered curtains, big wooden display cases and cupboards filled with the most traditional sweets of the Italian south, made according to genuine recipes.
“The cannolo siciliano is the absolute king that you must try and apart from the original one, the variations with chocolate, lemon or pistachio are just as tasty.”
Casatine, cassatelle, torte and the typical Sicilian bun with ice cream are there to tempt you and make your choice more difficult. You can also sit in for a cup of coffee which is best accompanied by a selection of various small cannoli. And what should your take-away package contain? Definitely some cassatelle of Agira, Vincenza’s home town, which are delicious, half-moon shaped pastries with cocoa, almond, cinnamon and lemon filling. Just perfect!