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The TV and Literary Eateries of Inspector Montalbano

Commissario Montalbano is a devotee of Sicilian cooking; the regional, earthy sort still practised, mercifully, by households and restaurants the length and breadth of the island. For avid readers of the books and viewers of the televsion programmes, there are several destinations that are key to understanding the Inspector's love of his native cuisine. 'Montalbano central' for lovers of Andrea Camilleri's books is the southern coastal town of Porto Empedocle, situated approximately half way along the lower-side of Sicily's coastal triangle.

The Vigata of the Commissario is based on Empedocle, a fact which encouraged the local councillors to append the fictional title to their town's name. At its very heart is Via Roma and the Bar Vigata, once known as the Caffè Albanese. It serves the cannoli and other pastries so beloved of Montalbano and makes several appearances in the books.

A short stroll along the street from the bar's tables is a statue of the Inspector - not with the televisual appearance of Luca Zingaretti - but, rather, with the look of an aging, yet benign, civil servant sporting a full head of hair and a 'Moretti-style' moustache.

The locations for the restaurant scenes in the TV series are further to the east, in the Baroque towns of the Val di Noto. In the original episodes, the role of Calogero's restaurant was taken by the Trattoria La Rusticana in Ragusa Ibla, specifically in Corso XXV Aprile. Its outdoor pergola and the patterned arches inside are unmistakable. A whole raft of cast photos are proudly on display next to the cash register.

For more recent epicurean delights, the Montalbano aficionado should head down to the coast at Punta Secca through the tangle of dry-stone walls that dot the actual and celluloid landscapes of this region. The beach-side eatery seen in recent episodes, such as La caccia al tesoro, is not far from Salvo's iconic house with its shuttered windows and wrap-around balcony.

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