In 1500, an abstract on wines attributed to a certain Andrea Bacci, (Sant’Elpidio a Mare, 1524 – Rome, October 1600) De Naturali Vinorum Historia, was written.Largely dedicated to Sicilian wines, the writing refers to I rossi dell’Etna (The Reds of Etna) and the wines of Val di Noto as being of high quality.
On the wines 0f the Palermo, Cammarata and Agrigento regions, he wrote: “...in Cammarata the vines grow prolifically, and as tall as men, so rich in grapes that ten plants are enough to render a bottle of must… The red wine is very strong, rich in fragrance and flavor, it is optimal for long-term
preservation…The great wines of “Mongibello” (Etna) are good due to the natural warmth that springs from below ground… (while) the wines of Palermo are clear and light…”
Even Pope Paul IV, during the XI century loved Sicilian wines, and was known to recommend Bianco d’Alcamo most of all.
Michelangelo Merisi or Amerighi da Caravaggio or simply the Caravaggio, is in exile in Sicily, around 1608 : he’s one of my favorite painter of all time!… “Caravaggio’s novelty was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of “chiaroscuro” like a black and white photographer…Caravaggio made his way to Sicily where he met his old friend Mario Minniti, who was now married and living in Syracuse. Together they set off on what amounted to a triumphal tour from Syracuse to Messina and, maybe, on to the island capital, Palermo. In Syracuse and Messina, Caravaggio continued to win prestigious and well-paid commissions. Among other works from this period are Burial of St. Lucy, The Raising of Lazarus, and Adoration of the Shepherds. His style continued to evolve, showing now friezes of figures isolated against vast empty backgrounds. “His great Sicilian altarpieces isolate their shadowy, pitifully poor figures in vast areas of darkness; they suggest the desperate fears and frailty of man, and at the same time convey, with a new yet desolate tenderness, the beauty of humility and of the meek, who shall inherit the earth.
Sicilian wines became so famous that they made for extremely profitable commerce for the Venetians, Genovese, Pisans, Florentines, and Jews. It was the beginning of a cultural period that lasted until “modern” times. The “cultural backlog” in Sicily, particularly among the agricultural sector, had kept the society attached to a somewhat feudal system, whereas the rest of Italy, and most of Europe, had developed into Republics and municipalities.
As a consequence, Sicilian wine was commercialized by and for foreigners, therefore even nowadays used mostly as an additive for French, Spanish, and Northern Italian wines, leaving a legacy of wine culture limited merely to a handful of passionate barons, counts, and local croppers.
The business of wine did not adhere to many standards of quality at that time. Negligence, ignorance, and apathy accompanied Sicilian wine toward oblivion and mediocrity, with respect to other aspects of culture that were considered more important.
In fact, the business of Sicilian wine and produce in the North was managed almost entirely by those from Lombardy, a traffic pattern which led to the formation of La Maestranza dei Tavernieri or “The Majesty of the Public House Keepers”, in 1545.