Antonio Carluccio travels to Sicily to discover more about one of the most successful novels ever written in the Italian language, The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
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"At the top of the hill, among the tamarisks and cork trees
"appeared the real Sicily.
"Compared to which, the baroque towns and orange groves are mere trifles.
"Aridly undulating, comfortless and irrational with no lines that
"the mind could grasp, conceived in a delirious moment of creation.
"A sea, suddenly petrified in an instant,
"when a change of wind had flung waves into a frenzy."
'When I think of Sicily, this is the landscape I imagine -
'hot, dry, unchanging, timeless.'
Today we think of Sicily as part of Italy but her way of life
and culture and cuisine,
they are a product of 25 centuries of invasion.
Greeks, Arabs, Normans and the Spanish have all left their mark,
but Sicily is a kingdom ruled by the sun and a violent landscape.
This book, The Leopard, is a love letter to Sicily.
It was written in 1955 by Giuseppe Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa, an impoverished nobleman.
He died before it was published, so he never knew that it would
become one of the best-selling novels written in Italian.
The story is based on his own family and looks back to a time of war, conflict and revolution.
It is a passionate description of what he loved and what his family had lost.
The aristocratic life he knew as a child has certainly disappeared,
along with so many of the places he loved, but some things are changeless.
You can still find the extraordinary landscape that he evokes with such artistry.
You can still eat the food.
The meals in the novel are central to the lives of his characters,
and Lampedusa obviously loved food.
He describes it with the same sensuality as all the other elements of the story.
I am going to trace the story of The Leopard
and the life of its enigmatic author.
I'll cook the meals he describes to see if I can still eat like a prince
in this dark and dazzling island.
The Leopard - Il Gattopardo in Italian -
caused a sensation when it was published in 1958.
It remains a bestseller today.
Visconti turned it into a blockbuster movie with Burt Lancaster as the sardonic Prince.
The Leopard is set in the 1860s,
at the time of the unification of Italy.
And the book raised fundamental issues about the union
that was still unresolved as Italy recovered from the Second World War.
The novel sparked a national debate and today it is regarded
as a key work in understanding Italian history.
Italy is a very young country.
Not yet 150 years old.
Now, history is often easier to remember with some simple visual aids.
In 1860 Sicily and southern Italy,
known as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies,
was ruled from Naples by the inept and Conservative Bourbon dynasty.
Northern Italy, seen as progressive and modern,
was ruled from Turin by the Savoy king, Victor Emmanuel.
In between were the papal states ruled from Rome by the Pope.
I'm afraid his Holiness has never had his own biscuit.
The movement for a united Italy was led by Giuseppe Garibaldi
who had allied himself with Victor Emmanuel, the Savoy King.
Garibaldi biscuits incidentally are unknown in Italy.
They were invented by the English company Peek Freans,
to cash in on the popular enthusiasm
when Garibaldi visited London in 1864.
Garibaldi was born in Nice when it was still part of Italy.
He was a bit cross when Victor Emmanuel gave it to the French.
But that's another story.
As the novel opens, Garibaldi is on his way to Sicily
to begin his campaign against the Bourbon king.
He was taking a huge gamble against seemingly impossible odds,
but the people with everything to lose were Sicily's feudal aristocracy.
Giuseppe Lampedusa's own family.
So who was Giuseppe Lampedusa, and what traces of his noble family remain in Palermo today?
These ruins are the remains of the Palazzo Lampedusa.
The Palermo Palace of the Lampedusa family.
It was destroyed on the morning of 5th April, 1943.
"I loved our home with utter abandon and still love it now
"when for the last years it has been no more than a memory.
"A bomb manufactured in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania searched her out and destroyed her."
But this was not some piece of isolated bad luck.
Almost every trace of the patrimony of Giuseppe Tomasi,
Prince of Lampedusa and Duke of Palma, was destroyed during his lifetime.
The wealth of his family was divided and dissipated.
The houses reduced to rubble by war, neglect and natural disasters.
Lampedusa was born in this house in 1896.
He never got over its destruction.
At the very end of his life, to try to come to terms with
his corrosive nostalgia for the world of his childhood,
he wrote a novel that brought it all back to life.
We are told that everyone has a great novel inside them.
But Giuseppe Lampedusa really did.
Lampedusa felt acute nostalgia for everything about his childhood.
One of the main reasons that impelled him to write
was to try and revisit that nostalgia and try to make some sense of it.
There are certain similarities between Don Fabrizio in The Leopard
and Lampedusa's great-grandfather, Prince Guilio.
I don't think Lampedusa knew much about the character of his great-grandfather.
In fact, Don Fabrizio is more Lampedusa -
they have the same sceptical intelligence,
the same fatalist attitude towards the future.
We first meet the Leopard, Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina,
in the least irritating half hour of his day -
in the run-up to dinner.
The novel starts
with this crisis which is the news of Garibaldi landing in Sicily
which is going to essentially put an end to everything.
Meals punctuate all these historical events,
you have a grand historical event,
then you have the family having a meal.
"Dinner at the Villa Salina was served with a shabby grandeur
"then customary in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
"The silver was massive and the glass splendid
"bearing the initials FD - Ferdinandus debit -
"in memory of royal munificence."
'The first meal in the novel begins with a soup.'
'The detail with which the meals are described in the book is delightful.
'Lampedusa was so good at getting these things right.'
What really represents Sicily more than anything else is food.
It is well reflected in the novel,
the way the food and the descriptions and the colours of the food
reflect Sicilian national identity.
The food is not only perfect for the period, but very Sicilian.
With these dried broad beans I am going to make a Sicilian minestra,
the soup eaten at the first dinner.
After his palazzo was destroyed by a bomb,
Giuseppe took refuge here in the Villa San Marco,
and they are kindly letting me borrow their kitchen.
And I have Palmira the cook to give me a hand.
The first job is to turn on the stove.
You can't hurry things when it comes to Sicilian cooking.
My dried broad beans have been soaking overnight.
Soup in Italy may be a little bit brothy,
can be more consistent or it can be a puree.
It is always called zuppa.
In this case, we have zuppa di fave secche, a puree.
They call it macco.
Adding water to cover them and cooking them for three hours.
The next stage is the sofritto.
Sofritto, it means just slightly fried.
This is sofritto of cipola. Onions.
Then we have something very special.
The finocchietto selvatico.
Which is, oh, lovely wild fennel from the mountain.
Because it's not the season, the lady of the house preserved some,
but the Sicilians, they love it.
Shouldn't you have that, you can put in fennel seeds.
Now we put this on the fire.
There are some other regions, Puglia for example,
where they do not put that,
they put a different thing, but we are in Sicily and this is the macco.
I have to turn the heat up on this one to gas mark 3.
There we are.
To accompany my macco, something that is slightly bitter.
Chicory is the ideal. A little bit of oil.
Now I put the garlic to fry and a touch of chilli.
Just a little bit. Wonderful.
We have here all kinds of chicory.
I add a little water.
Lid on, and it cooks by itself.
Once the broad beans have become a puree, the dish is ready.
And now we finalise the assembly of that,
a bit of salt, olive oil.
Now it has the proper taste.
Ah, the smell!
So in here we've got the macco.
And here we've got the chicory
with the garlic and the chilli.
The last touch,
the onions with fennel.
Very much-loved by the Sicilian.
Macco con cicoria,
a delicious introduction to Sicily and to the Leopard.
The next morning, we meet Don Fabrizio's nephew, Tancredi,
the pivotal character in the novel.
He is the only person who embraces the idea of a unified Italy
and goes to a fight with Garibaldi against the king.
All of his gallantry and soldiering...
I think he's a chocolate soldier, really.
He comes across as the likely lad - you can see him
in his natty bowler hat and his racy check suit.
He is almost a kind of spiv.
A kind of Sicilian aristocratic spiv, which is quite a good combination.
Don Fabrizio himself is too sceptical
to think Sicily will improve much with political unification.
In fact, Tancredi too is cynical, because he makes the famous line,
that to have things stay as they are, things have got to change.
It will be a cosmetic change at the top, but the aristocracy will still be in power.
Here in Sicily, the nobility certainly had a lot to lose.
Even without Garibaldi's intervention, the indolence of the Sicilian landowners
was bringing about their own downfall.
Don Fabrizio's properties covered thousands of acres.
But the Sicilian aristocracy had no interest in the management of their estates.
"The world of centuries have been transmuted into ornament, luxury, pleasure.
"This world, which had achieved its own object, was now composed
"only of essential oils and like essential oils, soon evaporated."
Seemingly indifferent, or unaware of the evaporation of his fortune,
Don Fabrizio was still enjoying the simple pleasures of his aristocratic lifestyle.
"At the end of the meal appeared a rum jelly.
"This was the Prince's favourite pudding,
"and the Princess had been careful to order it
"early in the morning in gratitude for favours granted."
Now, proper jelly starts with gelatine which we soften in some water.
Meanwhile you dissolve 300 grams of sugar in a pan.
Then you take the gelatine and then you stir it until it's dissolved.
It's very interesting a prince would like a desert like that, a jelly.
Now there is wonderful rum.
So it should be 200 centilitres - let me see if I can do it...
I think, is it 200?
No, another little bit.
Wonderful amber colour.
And a little bit more.
Now we can understand why the Prince liked it. It's quite a boozy jelly.
And now it is ready for the mould.
Wonderful copper mould. An old one.
The smell is just fantastic.
Now is ready for the fridge.
"It was rather fattening at the first sight.
"Shaped like a tower garrisoned by red and green cherries and pistachio nuts."
So, we go now to the decoration.
I'm very glad it came out like this wonderful jelly.
It's lovely to decorate it with fresh fruit,
what a wonderful pudding.
My host at the Villa San Marco was Daniella Camerata.
I wondered what she would make of Don Fabrizio's favourite dessert.
But the good thing is the orange skin.
-So the rum also...
-A delicate taste of rum.
'Like Don Fabrizio, we drank a little Marsala with our jelly,
'which it complimented beautifully.
'Lampedusa wrote to a friend that every word in his book was weighted, every episode has a hidden sense.
'While Don Fabrizio was enjoying his jelly,
'Garibaldi was landing at the port of Marsala.'
'Marsala is at the very westernmost point of Sicily.
'On a coastal plain of vineyards and salt pans.
'A landscape that hasn't changed at all
'since its most famous visitor arrived on the 11th May, 1860.
'This is the Porta Garibaldi,
'previously known as the Porta Reale, the Royal Gate.
'In a perfect example of Tancredi's warning,
'the gate retains its Bourbon insignia but the name is changed.'
Garibaldi landed at Marsala with about 1,000 men.
The legendary mille.
The Bourbon garrison had artillery and yet Garibaldi and his Red Shirts
marched into town without opposition.
Now, how did he manage that?
The explanation is to be found in the surrounding vineyards.
This was once the home of John Woodhouse -
his neighbours had equally British names like Ingham and Whitaker.
The truth is Marsala makes one of the greatest fortified wines in the world
and wherever you find fortified wine
you find the British who more or less invented it.
By great good fortune that day,
two British warships, Intrepid and the Argus,
were in the harbour to protect local British interests.
The Bourbons held their fire for fear of hitting the British vessels and Garibaldi was ashore.
Britain is the dominant power in the Mediterranean and the Bourbon Army knows
they can't risk alienating or offending the British.
Garibaldi spent his first night in Sicily in this house.
I don't know what he had for dinner that evening,
but Marsala always makes me think of one thing.
For that I need eggs, fresh eggs.
From which I take only the yoke.
Wonderful yoke, one.
So I just take about six eggs to make it quite rich and nice.
In this case...about five.
And then you start to beat it.
To make it really a cream.
So it has to be foamy, so that the sugar is really dissolved.
And then we have the good old virgin Marsala. It's a wonderful thing.
And now on the little fire here. It's a bit high.
Usually, it is made on a bain-marie.
You have to be very careful it doesn't become scrambled eggs.
Incidentally, in the Prohibition time in America,
Marsala was the only alcoholic liquid allowed to be sold
because it was supposed to be medicine.
I love zabaglione.
And now you just put it into glasses.
This is pure poetry.
Now, you could let it cool and eat it cold,
but the best is to eat it with some biscuit, warm.
It's a fantastic dessert.
Very quickly to go and very quickly to make.
Sicily has known so many invaders that Garibaldi was only the latest in a long line.
The mayor of Marsala was forced to sign a decree declaring Bourbon rule was at an end.
Garibaldi and his men moved off into the interior.
Whatever ruler there is of Sicily,
it doesn't make much difference. They're really all the same.
As long as the invader doesn't interfere too much
with the Sicilian way of life
and as long as the invader doesn't interfere too much with the Sicilian way of food,
everything will kind of carry on more or less the same as before.
"All around quivered at the funereal countryside,
"yellow with stubble, black with burnt patches.
"The lament of cicadas filled the sky.
"It was like a death rattle from a parched Sicily
"at the end of August, vainly awaiting rain."
Despite Garibaldi's recent conquests,
Don Fabrizio and his family managed to travel across the island
to spend the summer months at their country estate, Donnafugata.
The model for the Palace of Donnafugata
was this house, the Palazzo Cuto in Santa Margherita.
'Lampedusa spent most of his childhood summers in this house,
'which belonged to his mother's family.'
"It spread over a vast expanse and contained about 100 rooms.
"It gave the impression of an enclosed and self-sufficient entity,
"a kind of a Vatican, as it were."
But what we see today is a very different building to the summer home loved by the young Giuseppe.
During the night of the 19th January, 1968,
an earthquake destroyed some 60% of the town,
including most of this grand old house.
40 years later, the old town has been abandoned,
and it is difficult for us to appreciate the beauty that Lampedusa found here.
The Palazzo Cuto, however, has been rebuilt.
This is now the town hall,
but very little remains of the original structure.
The garden gives us a better idea of Giuseppe's childhood playground.
"In the furnace of summer, when the jet of the spring dwindled,
"it was a paradise of parched scents
"made to delight the nose rather than the eyes."
In the novel, Donnafugata was an even larger house, dominating the town,
a symbol of the feudal power of the Prince.
It seemed unassailable, but was it?
When he travels to Donnafugata,
for him, it's this kind of devastating moment,
and this is represented very effectively by the character of Don Calogero Sedara,
who has acquired an enormous amount of money, and acquired political power by becoming the mayor.
On the first evening in Donnafugata, Don Fabrizio invites the town notables to dinner,
where they will be served the rare treat of Sicilian baronial cuisine -
a macaroni pie!
Palmira has spent the day making the stock for this incredible dish,
with vegetables and a large joint of beef.
But first, we need to prepare a pastry case.
A little bit of flour...
not to let it stick. Palmira would call it "pasta for the mince".
Cranberry pastry. Probably the richest dish that I ever encounter.
There we are.
When I read this recipe,
I thought to change, immediately, something,
because it was saying that you have to take a chicken,
taken from the ovary, unborn eggs, to which I had an idea.
I will take just the yoke.
And I saved the outcry of many people.
The unborn egg is just like this when it's cooked.
One of my favourite descriptions, in fact, in the novel
is when Don Calogero Sedara arrives for the dinner.
And the Prince,
not in evening dress, because he doesn't want to embarrass his fellow guests
who don't have evening dress,
and Don Calogero Sedara turns up in evening dress.
"All was placid and normal
"when Francesco Paolo, the 16-year-old son,
"burst into the room and announced,
" 'Papa! Don Calogero is just coming up the stairs - in tails!' "
For the Prince, Don Fabrizio,
this is a shock worse than Garibaldi's landing at Marsala
and he describes him as a revolution in white tie and tails.
Despite the unease caused by Sedara's appearance, the meal itself is a very grand affair.
Macaroni pie certainly takes some preparation.
Olive oil, as usual, abundant.
And then onion.
Finely chopped onion.
My goodness, the fire is good.
And then comes the chicken.
While the pasta is boiling, I prepare this sort of filling.
Look at this, how many other things here to come.
So, the next bit will be the chicken livers.
And the little hearts.
In the original recipe is written truffles.
But a wonderful substitute is porcini.
There you are.
Now, I have to put two glasses of this wonderful beef extract
to give another dimension of flavours.
Little cubes of cooked ham.
A little bit of wine.
La pasta. Everybody in Italy, when the pasta comes, "La pasta!"
So, this has been cooked very al dente.
Put in there. Now we put this, the so-called unborn eggs.
Now, everything comes into the pasta, here...
Now the last touch - Parmesan.
After this, you have to have a holiday.
This pasta is saying to me, "Eat me, eat me!" ..Palmira.
This is the pastry case...
which we will fill up
Now, the next step is to make a lid.
So we have here a wonderful woman.
-PALMIRA SPEAKS IN ITALIAN
-Made my life very easy. Grazie.
Then a bit of brushing,
which lets us achieve a wonderful golden crust.
The last touch is cinnamon.
And now this goes for half an hour in the oven.
Now, at the dinner in Donnafugata, there's another shock for Don Fabrizio.
There's this beautiful girl, Angelica, daughter of the mayor.
"The door opened and in came Angelica.
"Emanating from her whole person
"was the invisible calm of a woman sure of her own beauty."
There is an atmosphere heavy with sensuality at the dinner,
created by the richness of the macaroni pie and the beauty of Angelica.
Tancredi imagines kissing her with each mouthful,
and quickly falls in love.
A lot of Sicilians think food is actually
the same as sex.
It is a kind of animal pleasure,
with little areas of poetry around it.
THEY SPEAK IN ITALIAN
First, the eye is eating it,
then comes the mouth.
The flavour is of a...
'There are these two kinds of Sicilian cuisine.
'There's this cucina baronale, which is represented by the macaroni pie,
'and cucina povera, which can extend also to street food.'
It's not at all uncommon for even the richest members of Sicilian society
to eat very simple food, and to go out in the middle of the night
onto the streets of a city like Palermo and eat street food.
You find hot food being cooked in the streets all over Palermo,
but I followed my nose and the clouds of smoke to the Borgo Vecchio.
I wanted to try a local speciality - stighiole - and I found it cooking on the grill at Da Michele.
And there we are. This is Michele, a Toscano-smoking chef.
So many of my flavours.
THEY SPEAK IN ITALIAN
20 years he's here. So, the meat is almost ready?
Stighiole, they are very tender intestines of a deer
that hasn't eaten grass yet, only milk.
And look at that - they look wonderful.
Lemon. In fact, this is the food for poor people,
because they didn't throw away anything.
But it's so tasty.
I love this.
They want something to taste, as well. Here.
Michele was keen to show off the versatility of his grill with a sophisticated seafood feast.
But first, he needed the right music.
The traditional songs of his childhood.
MUSIC: "That's The Way (I Like It) by KC & The Sunshine Band
This is his own recipe. They call it gambero bianco.
It is called mof mof - the minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour.
# That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh I like it
# Uh-huh, uh-huh That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh
# I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh... #
And above all, a nice shot of brandy.
This is fantastic.
Look at that.
This is a fantastic idea.
This is not just street food, this is street theatre.
Because the Italians, they love this.
The most wonderful thing is that Michele cooks everything for everybody.
So if somebody comes with a slice of meat or a fish,
in a minute or two, it is ready.
You take it home.
No mess, no washing up.
They are like cherries -
you eat one, you eat thousands.
Michele is celebrating in this game here.
I never could imagine that you could cook this on the grill.
But like this, it's just fantastic.
The funny fact is that, in 50 years of cooking, I can say that I learned another thing.
You never stop learning.
'As the long Sicilian summer continues, the story goes forward to October.
'Still at Donnafugata, Don Fabrizio spends his days out with a gun.'
The Prince loves hunting but he has a lot on his mind.
During the summer months, there have been significant political developments.
In October 1860, Sicily will have to vote on whether to join the Kingdom of Italy.
'When the result of the vote in Donnafugata is announced by the mayor, Calogero Sedara,
'it seems there was a unanimous vote in favour,
'but Don Fabrizio is sure there were votes cast against
'which have conveniently disappeared from Sedara's tally.'
The government in northern Italy, they are basically saying,
"Do you want the unification of Italy with Victor Emmanuel as king?
"Yes or no?" There are no negotiations.
Just yes or no.
And then the only thing the government has to do is to make sure it's going to be a "yes" vote,
so all of the energy is thrown into this being an overwhelmingly popular "yes" vote,
and that's done by fairly straightforward techniques of kind of bullying and manipulation
and corruption that we are all entirely familiar with.
'But there have been family developments as well.
'Tancredi has not wasted his summer.'
Don Fabrizio must ask the despised Sedara
for the hand of his daughter, Angelica, for his nephew, Tancredi.
'Lampedusa tells us that Don Fabrizio's aim is particularly accurate and pitiless,
'identifying those innocent creatures with Calogero Sedara.
'I am afraid I wasn't such a good shot as Don Fabrizio,
'but we found this plump rabbit at the butcher's shop.'
A nice rabbit.
Or could have been pheasant. It's to be cut into pieces.
When I was a child...
I was raising rabbits when I was about 15, 16.
And I had the task to kill them, as well.
But it was wartime, and no time wasted to consider them as a pet.
So the preferred morsel of my father was the head,
which was opened to expose the brain, then salt, and baked.
So, now we cut the onion...
So we add the onions.
Now we add the potatoes.
This is such a simple dish, it is unbelievable.
Wonderful black olives.
A good portion of salt. This salt comes from Trapani. It's local salt.
And then we put the pieces of meat like this, like this,
like that, for somebody that eats a lot!
Then another bit of oil.
So, the rosemary, it's quite a strong herb.
From the house here, producing this fantastic wine.
And now it comes into the oven.
'Next door, in the big kitchen,
'I discovered Daniella's son Enrico, an organic food specialist,
'who was scavenging for some lunch.'
-Do you like it?
-Yes, sure. This is my lucky day.
What do you eat, usually, for lunch?
Usually, I have fast food, because I...have to work,
-I never have the time to eat well.
-To relax and eat something?
In Palermo, the fast food is really good. It's natural food, but just fast.
Do you like also the stighiole?
-Yes, sure. It's my favourite fast food in Palermo. They're delicious.
-So you like the rabbit?
Tancredi and Angelica are now engaged
and escape together into the vast, empty ruins of the palace at Donnafugata.
Lampedusa evokes the frustrated anticipation of their wedding.
But was he drawing on his own experience?
Lampedusa married Alessandra Wolff late in life.
His wife, who was known as Licy, was a Latvian divorcee
who was very fond of her own family castle on the Baltic.
Their attempt to set up home with Lampedusa's mother in Palermo was a failure.
His wife and his mother quarrelled terribly
and so she decided, "I live in Latvia, you live in Sicily -
"don't put us together, never again!"
For a long time in the 1930s, he only saw Licy twice a year,
at Christmas in Palermo, and in the summer in Latvia.
As well as being Prince of Lampedusa, Giuseppe was also Duke of Palma.
The title originates from Palma di Montechiaro, on the south coast of Sicily.
Perhaps because it had no childhood ties,
Lampedusa didn't visit the town until the 1950s,
when he found the Tomasi name still commanded respect.
The cathedral is full of family portraits,
but, for me, as a fan of The Leopard,
the best discovery is just down the hill -
the Convent of the Rosary.
As Duke of Palma, Giuseppe was the patron of this convent,
and so was the only man allowed to enter the closed order -
a detail he put straight into the novel.
In the 17th century, there was such a strong streak of religious fervour
in the Lampedusa family, it's surprising they managed to keep producing heirs.
This is the first duke, who built the town.
He is known as the Duca Santos, the Saint Duke.
And this is his sister, Isabella Tomasi,
the venerable Maria Crocifissa,
and some items of interest from her life.
This stone, thrown at her by the devil,
was miraculously stopped in mid-air.
'I was also able to see some of her correspondence.'
This is a photocopy of a letter written by the Venerabile Maria.
And while she was writing, she heard voices, to write bad words,
until she discovered it was the devil dictating the letter. Then she stopped.
I collected my final treat on the way out -
the little almond cakes made by the nuns which Lampedusa had enjoyed.
'In his diary, he described his visit with one word - "commosso" - moved.'
Mmm. The inside is the mince of a special lemon
called cedro. Just wonderful.
"On these premises, the tomb was venerated with due respect by all,
"the nuns' watery coffee drunk with tolerance
"and the pink-and-greenish almond cakes crunched with satisfaction."
A few miles away on the coast, overlooking the sea,
we find yet another Lampedusa family ruin - the Castle of Montechiaro.
This was the only part of his great-grandfather's property that came directly to Giuseppe.
In the 1950s, when Lampedusa visited for the first time, it was considered practically worthless.
After his first trip here, Lampedusa soon returned again, with his wife, Licy.
She suggested they might restore part of the ruin
to make it habitable, but nothing came of the idea.
Lampedusa later confessed in his diary
that the trip had left him feeling orphaned and melancholic.
Before he leaves Donnafugata, Don Fabrizio has an unexpected visitor -
a noble man from the north arrives to offer him a seat in the new Senate of Italy.
In refusing the offer of his puzzled guest,
Don Fabrizio tries to explain
his troubled relationship with his homeland.
"The Sicilians never want to improve,
"for the simple reason that they think themselves perfect.
"Their vanity is stronger than their misery."
He is quite scathing about certain defects of the Silician character -
the sexual boasting.
Tomasi di Lampedusa is saying to us, "Yes, Sicilians have all these terrible qualities
"and they're proud of them."
He talks in a negative way about these things,
but in a way that the Brits talk about themselves in a negative way,
that makes us sound as if we're virtuous - we're good losers, for example.
We're almost proud when we lose at things!
"In Sicily, it doesn't matter about doing things well or badly.
"The sin we can never forgive is simply that of doing at all."
WALTZ MUSIC PLAYS
The story moves on two years to a ball,
at which Tancredi introduces Angelica to Palermo society,
a society congratulating itself on still existing.
It seems, initially,
as though Tancredi is right and nothing has changed
and everything is going to go on as before,
and the ball is intended to be a celebration
of the fact that nothing has changed.
But it becomes very clear in the course of the ball
that everything has changed,
and the power and the status of the Sicilian nobility is dying,
basically, is decaying, is ebbing away.
Although the ball is as spectacular as ever,
Don Fabrizio is nauseated
by what now seems facile and transient to him.
Don Fabrizio's mood is reflected in his sense of disgust at the food on offer.
The monotonous opulence of the buffet.
Even the food, with these little birds and so on,
which one would have thought are great luxuries,
are written about as though they are something really rather horrible
and starting to go rotten.
The cucina baronale that had delighted him
in the form of a macaroni pie at Donnafugata
now leaves a bad taste in his mouth
and he searches for something sweet.
And this display here, wonderful display,
was exactly what the Prince would have found at the ball.
You can read the history of Sicily here.
Arab cassata, French rum babas, Spanish chocolates.
In this punishing climate,
it is sugar that is the favourite preservative, and in this respect,
both Don Fabrizio and Lampedusa were typical Sicilians -
they have a sweet tooth.
Now, this may seem a bit strange, but this is a common breakfast in Palermo.
Ice cream in a brioche roll.
You have to remember, these poor people have to suffer a summer
which Lampedusa said was as long and glum as a Russian winter.
During the Second World War, Lampedusa lost his palace to an American bomb.
His wife, Licy, lost her castle in Latvia to the invading Russians.
When Giuseppe's mother died in 1946, Licy finally came to Palermo,
and they moved into a dilapidated palazzo in the Kalsa,
the Arab heart of the old city,
that had once belonged to Giuseppe's great-grandfather.
The house had the all-important Lampedusa pedigree.
Starting with an apartment on the second floor,
the Lampedusas gradually acquired more and more of the building.
He could never replace the Palazzo de Lampedusa, but this became home.
Lampedusa's wife, there was nothing much Italian about her.
She was a rather gruff Baltic lady, and a Freudian psychoanalyst.
And she didn't much like Palermo, and the people of Palermo didn't much like her.
He had a very particular schedule of his life,
because she was all the night long looking at the treatments
she was developing with her patients.
She went to sleep about...at dawn,
6 o'clock in the morning,
he, um, half-past-eight, was on the street
and went up walking to three big coffee houses that were in the centre of Palermo.
Except Mazzara, the other two have disappeared.
In the 1950s, the cafe Mazzara became Lampedusa's regular morning haunt.
He carried with him a bag, crammed full of books,
including a volume of Shakespeare,
just to calm him down in case he saw something disagreeable.
While having a leisurely breakfast, he would read,
sometimes for several hours.
These solitary breakfasts were often interrupted by his young cousin,
Gioacchino Lanza, and his friends.
He was in a bad crisis, personally, economically,
and through these young people he met,
he recovered an attachment to life,
and so he started giving lessons. "Let's start with English."
At the beginning, they are really grammar lessons with monosyllables,
as you do in British - pit, pat, pot, put, and so on!
But then they started reading books together,
and he made a run-through,
an amusing, so to say, course of English literature.
If he had an idea that was more amusing, he would go with the idea. Surely!
After breakfast, stocking up with pastries for the journey,
he crossed the street to Flaccovio's bookshop,
where he spent the rest of the morning browsing.
Still selling well.
'Lampedusa's only luxuries were the books he bought.
'He was nervous about admitting the cost to his wife, Licy,
'and often claimed that they were in a sale
'or he had been given a discount because they were damaged.
'He would occasionally break his journey home here,
'at the Pizzeria Bellini, for lunch with friends,
'knowing that Licy would be asleep into the afternoon.
'But, more commonly, his bag of buns would have to last him until dinner-time.'
Sadly, for someone as greedy as Lampedusa, she was a terribly bad cook,
and desperate to reproduce Baltic food,
even though it was impossible in Palermo to find it.
She made a disgusting olive-oil paste which she insisted tasted exactly like caviar.
Lampedusa's other great consolation were his visits to his mother's family.
His cousin, Lucio Piccolo, had published a volume of poetry
which, in 1954, won a minor literary prize.
This odd pair travelled to the festival at San Pellegrino to collect the award.
This journey seems to have been the spark he needed.
He later wrote to a friend, "Being mathematically certain that I am no more a fool than Lucio,
"I sat down at my desk and wrote a novel."
Lampedusa wrote in cramped blue Biro, in lined notebooks.
One of his pupils offered to type the manuscript at his father's legal office.
After buying them lunch, Lampedusa dictated the novel during the afternoon siesta.
In the hot, empty office, sweating and chain-smoking, it became obvious that he was not well.
Lampedusa was never healthy. He didn't take exercise, he was fat,
he ate too much and he smoked incessantly.
He had this lung problem - he thought it was emphysema - he couldn't breathe well.
Then he was told, "Actually, it's lung cancer." And he, er, he was pretty stoic about it,
obviously very upset,
but he carried on, and he went on writing when he felt well enough.
There is very little comfort to be gained from the next chapter of the book.
It's 21 years later, and Don Fabrizio is dying.
Having seen a doctor in Naples,
he is too ill to complete the journey to the Villa Salina.
In the heat of the afternoon, meeting his family at Palermo station,
he collapses and he is taken to a hotel.
"Every word was weighted," said Lampedusa.
He set Don Fabrizio's death in a real hotel, the Trinacria.
Before the war, the sea came right up to this terrace -
Trinacria, meaning three-cornered, was the Greek name for Sicily.
So the Prince is dying,
surrounded by his family in the Hotel Sicily, listening to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore.
"He had said that the Salina would always be the Salina.
"He had been wrong. The last Salina was himself.
"That fellow Garibaldi, that bearded Vulcan, had won after all."
Through this bustle of people
comes this beautiful young woman,
in a wide bustle and a straw hat
and a travelling gown,
and looks foxy,
and he realises that this is HER.
This is IT.
"It was she, the creature, forever yearned for,
"coming to fetch him.
"When she was face to face with him,
"she raised her veil, and there, chaste, but ready for possession,
"she looked lovelier than she ever had when glimpsed in stellar space.
"The crashing of the sea subsided altogether."
On August 23rd, 1955, Lampedusa wrote in his diary that the book was finished.
Now he needed to find a publisher.
The question of publish or not publish, we knew nobody.
We knew practically nobody abroad,
out of Palermo!
It was rejected twice, the second time when Lampedusa
was on his deathbed, and he was naturally depressed about it.
But he was quite philosophical about it - he said, erm,
"As a review, it's not bad but they're not gonna publish it."
Lampedusa was by now in a clinic in Rome for treatment.
The second rejection letter described the novel
as rather old-fashioned, unbalanced and too essay-ish.
Lampedusa was denied the comfort he devised for his main character -
he never returned to Palermo.
The last Prince of Lampedusa died in a Rome clinic a few days later.
He was 60 years old.
Eight months later, by a circuitous route,
the manuscript came to the attention of Giorgio Bassani,
working for the publisher Feltrinelli.
He wrote to Licy in Palermo.
From the first page, I realised I had found myself before the work of a real writer.
Il Gattopardo was finally published in November 1958 and became a runaway success.
He was proud of it, because he was absolutely convinced
that he had written an artwork.
He couldn't think that it would be a terrific success,
that's another affair,
but it was a good book.
Consider, I've read so many books, this is a good book.
And I've been extraordinarily moved by the book,
and by him.
Erm... And to think of this elderly man
who has never had any books published, or anything,
in his long overcoat,
sitting in this fusty cafe in the middle of Palermo,
um, writing with a ballpoint in an exercise book,
er, I find just extraordinary.
Because don't you feel, that by the end of the book, you think,
"What is life about?"
A few hundred yards from his old home, there is now a cafe and bookshop devoted to The Leopard,
with a little exhibition of photographs from his life.
It's easy to feel sorry for Giuseppe Lampedusa.
He died a few days after receiving a clumsy letter rejecting his book.
And he never knew the success he would achieve.
"In Sicily, it doesn't matter about doing things well or badly.
"The sin we can never forgive is simply that of doing at all."
He had done something, and he had done it well.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Antonio Carluccio travels to Sicily to discover more about one of the most successful novels ever written in the Italian language, The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Whilst tracing the locations that inspired the book, Antonio cooks the food that is such an integral part of the lives of its characters.
Giuseppe Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa, who died in 1957, had seen his family fortune disappear during his lifetime. The Palermo palace he lived in as a child had been destroyed by American bombing in the Second World War and the family's country villa was reduced to rubble by an earthquake. Lampedusa was acutely nostalgic for the aristocratic world of his childhood and at the end of his life he wrote a novel, based on the life of his great grandfather, that recreated this lost paradise.
Basing himself in the kitchen of a 16th century villa, Antonio recreates the meals of the 1860s that Lampedusa describes with such artistry. He explores the history of Italian unification that forms the background of the novel and ventures into the vibrant city of Palermo to find the street food that is still an important part of the Sicilian way of life. Antonio discovers the way that food is central to Sicilian culture, with Greek, Arab, Norman and Spanish invaders all having contributed to the island's unique cuisine.
He also meets Lampedusa's adopted son and learns how this eccentric and impoverished nobleman died before his only novel was published, causing a sensation in Italy and sparking a national debate on the eve of the centenary of the unification it described.