In ancient times, it was possible in Palermo to go to the parlor of the cloistered monasteries, to buy, through a metal wheel, the delicacies made by the holy hands of the nuns. Each female monastery, says the ethnologist Giuseppe Pitre, had its own specialty, a dish in which it excelled. The recipes were secret and were transmitted only orally, from the elderly to the youngs, because the nuns were afraid of being copied. All the aristocratic families of the city turned to the nuns for their dessert.
In the 1980s, only 2 monasteries were still working as bakeries: the monastery of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria and the monastery of Sant'Andrea delle Vergini. A nun interviewed on 25 September 1968 by a correspondent for the Giornale di Sicilia stated: “The buyers are few, even if our sweets continue to be appreciated. We can't stand the competition from pastry shops. "
Inspired by this centuries-old history, the ambitious project of the I SEGRETI DEL CHIOSTRO confectionery shop sought to recover and pass on the tradition of Sicilian convent pastry.
The confectionery is located inside the former Dominican monastery of Santa Caterina, partially transformed into a museum in 2017. The desserts are made strictly following the ancient recipes handed down by the nuns of the 21 cloistered monasteries of Palermo.
The handicraft production and the sale are part of a wider project of recovery of monastic traditions and allows to finance the restoration activities, the canteen of solidarity and to offer young people an opportunity for work and individual growth.