The story goes that around the year 1000, during the Moorish rule in Sicily, in the Arab quarter Kalsa (in the heart of Palermo) lived a beautiful young girl who spent her days tending her plants. One day, from the height of her lush balcony, she was noticed by a Moor who was passing by. As soon as he saw her, he immediately fell in love with her and did not hesitate for a moment to declare his love for her.The girl, impressed by this declaration, passionately returned the Moor’s sentiment, but their affair, which had begun with such ardour, was destined to be short-lived.
The young woman soon discovered that her beloved had to return to the East where his wife and children were waiting for him. In the middle of the night, feeling betrayed and humiliated, the girl indulged in a moment of jealousy and wrath by killing her Moor while he was sleeping. She then cut off its head and created a sort of vase in which she planted a basil sprout and took care of it day after day.
Thanks to its intoxicating scent, the basil plant, considered the herb of kings (from the Greek Basilikos),garnered the envy of the maiden’s neighbours, who wasted no time in making terracotta vases with the same features as the Moor’s Head.