Mastazzola are sweets of ancient Greek origins.
They were born to be consumed during the hard work in the fields, such as the wheat harvest, which required a great energy expenditure. The mastazzola are filled with excellent nutritional ingredients based on wheat flour, cooked wine, sugar, honey and particular Mediterranean aromas, which give the sweet a persistent scent typical of Sicilian gardens in bloom.
For some centuries they have become one of the symbols of the feast of Saint James, which is celebrated with the procession of the “fercolo” of the Saint every 26th July in Capizzi, a small Sicilian village perched on the Nebrodi mountains. It is said that the cult of Saint James was brought to the village by the Aragonese around 1427 by Sancho De Heredia, who gave the sacred relics of the Saint to the community of Capizzi.
Legend has it that a member of the ancient Milia Marsioni family decided to offer the mastazzola to the bearers of the “fercolo” to reinvigorate body and soul before tackling the steep climb of the “Casalini”, culminating in the hard test of the “Miracles” which consists in the demolition of a wall with the “fercolo” of the Saint, a rite that according to some people represents the expulsion of the infidels from Capizzi.
The offering of the mastazzola was much appreciated and in the following years it became a symbol and manifestation of faith in Saint James, so the Marsioni family decided to pass this gesture on to future generations, transforming the simple offering of sweets to the bearers into a real votive gesture as well as an act of faith that in the past witnessed some miraculous events, which occurred during the 1900s.
Today the preparation of the mastazzola has remained unchanged and the procedure is the original one, handed down from the Greek culinary culture. In fact, all the ingredients are carefully selected and come exclusively from local producers. The dough is made by hand and cooking takes place in an old wood oven. When they are ready, the sweets are placed in saddlebags made of coloured wool and they are brought and offered to the bearers of the Saint in an area where in ancient times the grain was weighed.
In 2017 the mastazzola were the protagonists, together with the feast of Saint James, in the documentary film “The day of the wall”, written and shot by the Sicilian director Daniele Greco. It was the winning film of the prestigious “Prix de la Creation” in France.