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Court delicacies

Ice cream is undoubtedly one of the greatest delicacies in the world.

In San Gimignano, there is a legend based on Caterina de' Medici, a certain Ruggeri and ... of course, ice cream!

Apparently, Ruggeri was a seller of chickens. He was a shy and reserved man who, during a culinary competition organised by the Medici family, had won an award by presenting a "peculiar little thing" - a magnificent ice cream that won over the jury.

From that day on, he left his business to provide service to the family and, in 1533, he was travelling to Paris with the other members of the court, following Caterina, wife of Henry II, Duke of Orleans, future king of France.

When the fourteen-year-old Caterina settled in Paris, she gave Ruggeri the task of organising a dinner to show off his culinary imagination and amaze - and why not, even humiliate - the guests.

On that occasion, Ruggeri created ice creams that were extremely elaborate both in shape and colour, leaving everyone speechless.

This is the story that has been handed down over the centuries. Today we know that Ruggeri did not sell chickens, but he was an alchemist and famous astrologer named Cosimo Ruggieri who offered his services first to Caterina's father, Lorenzo, and then to his daughter. With alternating fortunes, Cosimo worked all his life for his queen.

Others attribute the invention or perfecting of ice cream made with egg cream to the Medici architect Bernardo Buontalenti, whose recipe has been around since 1565.

Since then, ice cream has been a delicacy for the palate and the spirit and, in the centre of San Gimignano, numerous famous ice cream parlours still produce that delicious ice cream.

Ritratto di Caterina de' Medici
  • Progetto finanziato a valere sui fondi Legge n. 77 del 20 febbraio 2006 “Misure speciali di tutela e fruizione dei siti italiani di interesse culturale, paesaggistico e ambientale, inseriti nella “lista del patrimonio mondiale”, posti sotto la tutela dell’UNESCO”