May 30, 2011
Like a bolt from the blue, the Madonna storms out of the skies on a mighty white stallion, sword at hand, slashing and slaying an army of Saracens.
Not your version of the Madonna?
Well, this is Sicily, where everything’s a little different.
The year is 1091. The place is Scicli, near Sicily’s southern coast.
The Normans ruled Sicily at that time. Norman knights were battling Saracens and getting creamed. The Norman leader, Roger de Hauteville, prayed to the Madonna for help, and–miracle of miracles–she swooped down to save the day.
Almost a thousand years later, la Madonna delle Milizie is still revered and celebrated in this stony little baroque town. The entire 1091 event is re-enacted each year in late May.
What do the locals eat to celebrate the 1091 event?
That’s right. They feast on testa di turco, a large cream puff in the shape of a turban. Never mind that the Turks came nowhere near Sicily until the 16th century.