It's getting hot in Italy. Very hot, especially in Rome. So it's no wonder why well-to-do ancient Romans escaped the heat by heading to their vacation homes in the Italian country-side, on its islands, or on the sea-side. They would also cool off by going into their special underground snow stores to make a version of a snow cone, topping it with fruit and flower juices.
The Arabs introduced sherbet to Italy during their Sicilian domination, which were refreshing ice drinks also topped with fruit/flower juices. Sicilians would later store ice and snow from the massive Mt. Etna and other mountains nearby, so the star ingredient was always available to make a nice, cool summer treat, much like we have today! Up until the 19th century this cool drink was called "rattata", short for "grattata" - or "grated" - for grated ice.
In the 20th century, this Sicilian drink would become known as the famed granata, now available throughout Italy and the world. This cool, refreshing drink is made simply from ice, sugar, and fruit juice or other ingredients, such as coffee (especially in Messina), cocoa, and almond, and is even consumed for breakfast with a brioche in Sicily during the summer. The consistency of the ice varies from city to city within Sicily, some preferring larger granules while the eastern cities seem to prefer a smoother, homogenous ice. Any way it is served, it is refreshing and delicious and certainly needed after a hot day of visiting Italian sites!
The best part is that it's almost too easy to make your own. Want to give it a go? Try our recipe. Trust us, you'll be hook'd.