Raddusa was perfect for what Salvatore had in mind. A place where you can forget the noise of the world at least for a few hours and find inner peace
In the center of Sicily, on a hill on the border between the provinces of Catania and Enna, it is located Raddusa, a town of nearly three thousand souls. Once known as “the city of wheat”, immersed in an atmosphere that is still rural today, for many years it has hosted a corner of the East where you can forget the din of the world for a few hours.
In fact, among the modern buildings typical of the Sicilian hinterland towns, stands the “Tea house“: a place where it is worth getting lost at least once in your life, abandoning thoughts and anxieties of any kind.
That’s right. After leaving your shoes in Genkan, just go through the front door to be “teleported”, as if by magic, into a world completely different from ours, where time seems to almost stop and the memory of Sicily disappears in an instant.
Delicate keeper of this lovely place is Salvatore Pellegrino, tea master for over thirty years: it is he who leads the journey towards oriental culture and tells the secrets that make tea a real art.
An art that Salvatore learned almost by chance. Born and raised in the family pastry shop, which had been going on for four generations, he had initially followed his parents’ path by becoming a pastry chef himself and coming to work in England in front of the Castle of the Windsor.
Right there the passion for the most loved drink in the world takes over when, on the occasion of the “Royal Ascot” (a very famous horse show), he finds himself serving the nobles of the royal family.
«If you don’t know the art of tea and ceremony, however, you cannot understand which sweets to associate because oriental sweets follow the seasons», and so Salvatore begins to study, learn and taste. And he does it by going around China, Japan and India: from the beneficial properties to the processing techniques, from the ceramics to be used to the art of dressing the kimono, soon everything that revolves around tea is no longer a mystery. for him.
But it’s not time to go home yet. Before the turning point there are two books published and a period of work at the famous English company “Twinings“. Only when his parents retire, in fact, the master decides to transform his home into a “Tea House”, giving Sicily a small world where to take time and retire in a cup that, thanks to the ceremony, “allows us to listen ourselves and to understand who we are ».
All in an environment created according to the philosophy of Feng Shui, respecting the energy forces and with all entrances to the east, to “receive the new sun every morning” and find inner peace: “We Westerners have built streets and buildings at random, throwing concrete everywhere, and we have not taken care of the nature and energy of the places. In the East, before building a shop or setting up a skyscraper, you consult a tea master: it is he who understands if this is the right place ».
And Raddusa was perfect for what Salvatore had in mind. The house, with an adjoining tea plantation (which allows to produce about 15-20 kg per year) and two thousand officinal plants that fill the surrounding area with smells and colors, today it is also the only one museum of Italy, hosts school groups, individual or group courses and allows any curious and passionate to participate in a ceremony: in the focal center of the house, where there is a kettle from 1810 that was given to him on the occasion of the inauguration by a samurai.
With 500 teiere Yixing, 620 samples of tea, the largest cup and teapot in the world, as well as a continuous mix of scents and aromas, visiting Salvatore therefore means totally immersing yourself in a distant but fascinating culture, which reminds us to live the moment and be truly ourselves.
We do not want to reveal more, however. When you can, treat yourself to a moment of serenity: Maestro Pellegrino will be happy to welcome you, answer your curiosities and tell you about the «tea of the trained monkeys». On the other hand, just leave politics and religion at home (themes not allowed during the ceremonies) and climb a ladder to venture out on this journey.