Selasa, 23 Maret 2010

Caffe Mazzara

While Italy is known for its ice cream - gelati, Sicilians enjoy it a little differently. They often order it scooped into a fresh brioche rather than a cone. Finding a good gelataria is complicated because you have to assess the quality of the brioche as well the gelati on offer. With Caffe Mazzara in the heart of Palermo there are no such issues. This is a classic Sicilian gelataria and caffe. Apart from an outside terrace in a small quiet square, on the ground floor its cool and elegant interior is served by a long glass counter full of goodies.

This caffe is also another of the famous 'writer's cafés' I have mentioned previously. In the mid 1950's Giuseppe di Lampedusa walked every morning from his residence on the coast to either Caffe Caflisch on Viale della Liberta of Caffe Mazzara on Via Magliocco to work on his novel 'Il Gattopardo' - 'The Leopard', perhaps Italy's most famous novel. It chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the Risorgimento. It's a great read.
I rather fancy that the writing took place on the first floor of the caffe where big brown curved wooden benches sit either side of big brown wooden tables, all lined along one wall, a place I would like to sit and write too.
Sadly Lampedusa didn't live to see the overwhelming success of his novel which was published posthumously in 1958. It was rejected by two leading publishing houses before going on to become the top-selling novel in Italian history.

As you can see from this cover the book was also famously made into a film in 1963, directed by Luchino Visconti and starring (oddly but effectively) Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. Sumptuous and faithful to the book as the film is, it does look a bit stiff and dated now, having watched it again recently on DVD.

Here is a Giclee Print I made as a limited edition featuring a watercolour of the counter in Caffe Mazzara and various Sicilan ephemera I collected all over Sicily, including tickets from a visit to the villa of Lampedusa's cousin and confidente, Lucio Piccolo, a postcard of Lampedusa and his dog Crab, a photo of Crab's grave I found at Villa Piccolo,  a sugar wrapper and a receipt from Caffe Mazzara.

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