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a "masseria"

An itinerary which let us know and enjoy the traditions of the Hyblaean province may start from what has been for centuries and is still nowadays the central point of the local economy "the typical ragusan farm", called masseria.

The territory of Ragusa is rich of this kind of family run farms which are places where local traditions are handed on from father to son. Production and home life took place at the same time. In the evening the family sat around a brazier the so called "conca" and grand fathers would tell grandsons nice stories "cunta". At dinner there was poor but wholesome food such as causunieddi: home made pasta seasoned with pork sauce or tomato, ravioli: home made pasta stuffed with ricotta, sugar and cinnamon, and manichi ri fauci which literally means sickle handle owing to the particular form given to pasta, cooked with pulses and seasoned with oil and salt. Then we must mention the so called maccu: a typical broad bean soup.

Life was simple but very hard. Men would pass the whole day working in the fields while women in addition to their domestic job, would help their husbands with the farm, take care of the poultry, milk cows and sheep, weave, make bread and take care of the children.

The stone oven is present in any ragusan farm still today and if you happen to find one of these ancient farms do not miss the occasion to eat focacce: layers of home made pasta stuffed with tomato and cheese, with ricotta onion and parsley, with aubergines, with broccoli, with ricotta and sausage.

At Easter the tradition suggests to eat " 'mpanate " a sort of buns stuffed with lamb meat, kid meat, and turkey meat seasoned with pepper and parsley. The typical sweat of this period is the cassata one layer of pasta filled with ricotta and baked.

Open air life took place in the bagghiu : a courtyard enclosed by drystone walls, farmers' houses, and cattlesheds. This area was country-style paved ancuticciatu , and served as playing courtyard for children, as passage for the animals and meeting place. Inside the house, the family used to spend their life in a big room called "casa ri mannira" , where ricotta and provola and caciocavallo, the typical ragusan cheese was manufactured . In the tannura, a stone-cooker the women prepared the meals and made the bread in the stone-oven.

The preparation of ricotta was almost a ritual, two times a day after milking, early in the morning and late in the evening. The remaining liquid after the manufacture of the cheese, called llacciata was put in a big tinned copper cauldron, at a certain temperature a further curd called ricotta is obtained; the remaining whey was used to feed the pigs. Fresh ricotta was put in little pointed cane-made containers cavagne and sold.

At Christmas after the traditional pig slaughter, the family prepared the sausage, the most common specialities of the Christmas period are pork chops, roast sausages and pork in aspic. Part of the sausage, hanging from a cane was dried and smoked with the smoke coming from the ricotta making.

Typical sweets of this period are mpagnuccata, pasta little balls cooked with honey and served on a lemon leaf, or the mucatoli, made with honey and walnut and the ghiugghiulena with honey and almonds.

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Witnesses of memory


of 1693


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