We are curious beings: we like to snoop around, research, particularly when there's food involved. We always wondered how the tradition of "cassata" or "cassatelle" started: this is the story behind these little delicacies. Called minne (or minnuzze, dialect for breast), they are a tribute to St. Agatha, protector of Catania, and her martyrdom.
Born in the III century AD into a noble Christian family, she took the vows when she was 15. The proconsul Quinziano fell in love with her beauty, tried in vain to seduce her, and when she rejected him, he accused her of contempt with religion.
Basted a summary trial she was interrogated and tortured. Her steady faith and denial sparked even more ire in the accuser, so much that her breasts were then cut off with pincers.
Buried in her family house, she overlooks the city and protects it from Mount Etna and the recurring eruptions ever since.
Between the 3rd and the 5th of February, thousands of people fill the streets to pay tribute to their Saint with processions, events, parades. These sweets are the symbol of this devotion, in the evocative shape of the breasts torn during the martyrdom.
Sponge cake as base, sometimes softened by liquor, with a filling of ricotta and bitter chocolate chips, all covered with a white glaze, representing the purity of the virgin saint) and a red candied cherry.
Our favourite so far is by Patisserie Alfio Neri. Whenever you are in Siracusa, make sure to pay him a visit.