Almonds and olives are the most characteristic element of the agricultural landscape of the Valley of the Temples. The almond, which flowers in late winter from December to March with colours ranging from pure white to various shades of pink, is one of the elements that has contributed most significantly to the myth of the eternal Sicilian spring. According to the old farmers in the Valley, the almond harvest used to take place at the end of summer, from the end of August to the start of September. To make the fruit fall, the branches were poked with long dry canes from the cane thicket in Kolymbethra Garden.
The almonds were used in the kitchen to make marzipan, mixing the ground nuts with sugar. “Frutti di martorana”, marzipan fruits named after a famous church in Palermo, are traditional sweets served on All Souls Day (2 November) and are made exclusively from marzipan.
“Agnelli pasquali”, Easter sweets in the shape of sheep, are made using a pistachio paste covered in icing and sugared sweets.
Almond milk is another traditional product, a blend of sugar and shelled and ground almonds.
As well as the almonds, the huge “Saracen olive trees” – cited by Pirandello in the novel “I vecchi e i giovani” and several other stories – are another important element of the Valley’s “almond and olive grove”. The strange shapes and sheer size of the enormous “Saracen olives trees” is a testament to the slow passage of the centuries within the park.