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Sicily Honey

Sicily – ‘Il miele della Sicilia’

Triskelion Symbol of Sicily

With an ancient tradition of honey production, Sicily is a special place for honey lovers. Two thousand years ago, Marcus Varro wrote of the Thyme honey of Sicily being the best of all honeys. Probably referring to legendary honey of Hybla.

Honey Cities:
Sant’Alfio (Catania)
Sortino (Siracusa)
Zafferana (Catania)

Honey museum:
Traditional beekeeping house museum in Sortino (Italian translated to English)

Festivals:
Honey Festival in Sortino – October (Italian translated to English)

History:
Beekeepers used a primitive yet effective form of hive made from stems of the giant Fennel plant (Ferula thyrsifolia) in Sicilian, Fella. See video below.

Types of Honey:

  • Iblei Mountain – ‘Miele ibleo’ (Honey from flowers in the area of Hyblaean Mountains (Monti Iblei) between Ragusa and Siracusa. Takes the characteristics of the wildflower of the time of the year: In May for honey orange, in June for thistle, in August for thyme and eucalyptus, and in December producing carob)
    • Carob Honey Ibleo – ‘Miele di Carrubo Ibleo ‘ (Ceratonia siliqua)
    • Eucalyptus Honey Ibleo – ‘Miele di Eucalipto Ibleo’ (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
    • Orange Honey Ibleo – ‘Miele di Arancio Ibleo’ (Citrus aurantium)
    • Honey Thistle Ibleo – ‘Miele di Cardo Ibleo’ (Caardus spp., Cirsium spp., Galactites tormenting, Carlina spp., Sylibum spp.)
    • Thyme Honey Ibleo Slow Food Icon – ‘Miele di Timo Ibleo’ (Thymus capitatus)
    • Ibleo Wildflower Honey – ‘Miele Millefiori Ibleo’
  • Egadi Honey – ‘Miele delle Egadi’ (Honey from flowers of the Egadi islands and the town of Favignana)
    • Heather Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Erica delle Egadi’ (Erica arborea)
    • Lemon Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Limone delle Egadi’ (Citrus limon)
    • Rosemary Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Rosmarino delle Egadi’ (Rosmarinus officinalis)
    • Orange Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Arancio delle Egadi’ (Citrus aurantium)
    • Sulla Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Sulla delle Egadi’ (Hedysarum coronarium)
    • Thistle Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Cardo delle Egadi’ (Caardus spp. Cirsium spp. Galactites tormenting, Carlina spp. and Sylibum spp.)
    • Thyme Honey Egadi – ‘Miele di Timo delle Egadi’ (Thymus ssp.)
    • Egadi Wildflower Honey – ‘Miele Millefiori delle Egadi’ ()
  • Honey from Madonie. Honey made from flowers of the Madonie National Park Province of Palermo
    • Citrus Honey from Madonie (honey from orange, bergamot, lemon, mandarin)- Miele di Zagare delle Madonie’
      (citrus ssp.)
    • Eucalyptus from Madonie- ‘Miele di Eucalpito delle Madonie’ (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh)
    • Sulla from Madonie (aka Spanish sainfoin, French honeysuckle, Sweetvetch) – ‘Miele di sulla delle Madonie’ (Hedysarum coronarium L.)
    • Wildflowers from Madonie – ‘Miele Millefiori delle Madonie” (The wildflower honey is made from flowers from the entire territory of the Madonie Park in Province of Palermo)
  • Honey of the Province of Agrigento – ‘Miele della provincia di Agrigento’ (Honey made from flowers in the area of the province of Agrigento)
    • Almond Honey of the Province of Agrigento – ‘Miele di mandorlo’ (Prunus dulcis)
    • Myrtle of the Province of Agrigento – ‘Miele di mirto’ (Myrtus communis)
    • Rosemary of the Province of Agrigento – ‘Miele di rosmarino’ (Rosmarinus officinalis)
    • Thyme of the Province of Agrigento – ‘Miele di timo’ (Thymus spp.)
    • Wildflower Honey of the Province of Agrigento – ‘Miele Millefiori della Provincia di Agrigento’ (From the Province of Agrigento mainly spring flowering of many plants in the area including citrus, fruit trees and herbs.)
  • Acacia – ‘Miele di acacia’ (Robinia pseudoacacia L.)
  • Almond Honey – ‘Miele di mandorlo’ (Prunus dulcis)
  • Astragalus nebrodensis Honey – ‘Miele di Astragalus nebrodensis’ (Astragalus nebrodensis)
  • Carob Tree – ‘Miele di carrubo’ (Ceratonia siliqua)
  • Chestnut Honey of Sicily- ‘Miele di castagno di Sicilia’ (Castanea sativa Mill)
  • Citrus Honey – ‘Miele di zagara (Orange Blossom Honey) or Miele di agrumi (Citrus Honey) or Miele arancio (Orange Honey)’ (Not just orange blossoms but blossoms of Citrus:Orange, bergamot, lemon, mandarin)
  • Dill Honey – ‘Miele di Aneto’ (Anethum graveolens)
  • Eucalyptus Honey of Sicily – ‘Miele di eucalpito di Sicilia’ (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh)
  • Grass Viper Honey – ‘Miele di erba viperina’ (Echium plantagineum and E. vulgare)
  • Lemon Honey of Sicily – ‘Miele di Zagare di Limone di Sicilia’ (Citrus limon)
  • Loquat (aka Japanese Loquat, Japanese Medlar) – ‘Miele di nespolo, Miele di nespolo del Giappone’ (Eryobotrya japonica)
  • Prickly Pear Cactus – ‘Miele di fichidindia (aka Miele di fichi d’India, Miele di fico d’India)’ (Opuntia ficus-indica)
  • Rocket Honey (aka Sanacciola) – ‘Miele di ruchetta o sanacciola’ (Cruciferae)
  • Sulla Honey of Sicily(aka Spanish sainfoin, French honeysuckle, Sweetvetch) – ‘Miele di sulla di Sicilia’ (Hedysarum coronarium L.)
  • Thistle – ‘Miele di Cardo’ (Carduus sp.)(Carduus ssp.)
  • Thyme of Sicilly – ‘Miele di timo di Sicilia’ (Thymus capitatus, Thymus spp.)
  • Wildflower Honey of Sicily – ‘Miele Millefiori di Sicilia’ (The Sicilian wildflower honey is produced from spring flowering trees and wild and cultivated plants of the entire region.)

Slow Food Icon Honey identified and cataloged by the Arc of Taste (Slow Foods)

Certified Traditional Food of Italy PAT – Honey certified as a Traditional Italian Food.

Excellent example of the use of the ancient ferula hive in Sicily. Beekeeper Sebastiano Pulvirenti, one of the last fasciddari (beekeepers) and standard-bearer of traditional beekeeping in the Hyblaean Mountains. In 1970 he had about 1500 hives of made of fennel stems (know as fasceddi), which gave about three kilograms of honey each. Today, he has only a hundred fasceddi in a shelter under rock in the heart of the natural reserve of Valle Anapo, near the old railway station, Pantalica. :

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Resources and further reading:

A Jar of Honey from Sicily – By Leigh Hunt 1848
A collection of material relating to Sicily
Traditional Beekeeping in the Iblei Mountains (Italian translated to English)
Sicily – Bronze Age, Greek Period, Roman and Post-Roman Periods, anaktoron, naiskoi, kouroi

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