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Easter traditions in Italy

Leave space in your stomach and try one of these Easter desserts.

Easter is coming and on the Palm Sunday the Holy Week is started. All the Italian families are planning to do something on Easter day. There are those who will leave for short holidays and there are people who are organizing family dinings, where the cherry on top is the dessert at the end.

Here following you will find the 2nd part of the Easter desserts list (here is the 1st one). Region by region, from North to South, let’s discover which are the typical Easter desserts.


In the very middle of Italy there is one of the smallest Italian regions. This region includes 2 provinces: Perugia and Terni. In Perugia district families prepare ciaramicola. It is a red coloured ring-shape cake with a white icing on top and coloured sugar pearls. It represents the 5 neighborhoods of Perugia and the cake colours are related to the coats of arms. Once girls gave the ciaramicola as a gift to their boyfriends. If you are in Terni district you will eat the sweet Easter pizza instead. This has nothing to do with the Italian pizza for its shape and flavour. The ingredients vary from a place to another, but anise seeds are unavoidable everywhere.


It is said that the vergare (the regional word indicating the housewives) started to knead the ciambelle pasquali in the day of Christ’s Passion. Then they leave the dough stand and cook the ciambelle on Easter day. First they needs to be boiled and after about 2 hours you can put them in the oven.


We already talked about Easter traditions in Campania. Here the Easter cake par excellence is pastiera. Personally I really love this cake because of its main ingredient: ricotta. The legend says that Parthenope, the siren symbol of Naples, create this dessert. The current recipe was refined in the nunneries and the most famous is the recipe of nuns in the San Gregorio Armeno convent.


There is a particular sweet in this region called ‘pupa e cavallo‘ (i.e. poppet and horse). During Easter time housewives prepare woman and man-shaped sweets to give as a gift respectively to little girls and little boys. The dough includes eggs, sugar, flour and oil. The peculiarities are the little aspects of men and women the housewives reproduce, this is the reason why it needs a lot of time to be prepared.


The cake, that can’t be missed on the tables in Molise, is the treccia di PasquaTreccia means braid. In fact the dough is braided forming a ring-shape cake. Throughout the region you will find this cake, but called in many different ways. The ingredients are those of the bread adding eggs, sugar and flavourings.


It is a very long region and you can imagine how many food traditions you can find in the Easter time. Among the sweets I will mention 2 of them, one from the North and one from the South. In Foggia district the most common Easter dessert is scarcella. This is a dialectal word and means ring-shape cake. Scarcella is covered with a white icing and on top it is put a little egg of chocolate. In Taranto district it is common the pastatella. It is made of shortcrust pastry, cherries jam, cinnamon, kernels and minced orange or lemon peels.


Mostly in southern Italy Easter sweets have a boiled egg on top. Before the spread of the Catholicism eggs were used to symbolize fecundity, as a good omen. When Catholicism replaced people’s beliefs, egg acquired the meaning of ‘birth’ and then of the resurrection of Jesus. In Basilicata the grandmothers prepare the panaredd, usually eaten on Easter Monday during the picnic. This cake has many different shapes: puppet, basket or bell.


In Calabria it can’t be missed the cullura. Similar to the Basilicata’s sweet, it is a ring-shaped cake with a boiled egg on top. The word cuddura comes from ancient Greek and means ‘crown’. Shepherds and wanderers threaded their walking sticks or their arms in the cuddura to carry it easier. That’s why the sweet has this shape.


Sicily is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Its position facilitated foreign domains. Arabs, for example, deeply influenced Sicily and the food too. Thanks to them today we can delight in the cassata. Together with pastiera, these are my best favourite Italian sweets at all. Cassata is prepared with ricotta (very delicious in Sicily!) and almond paste. Diabetics must keep away from this sweet!


Almost everywhere on the island during Easter time you can find formaggelle. The name is related to the main ingredient: the formaggio (i.e. cheese). This is just one of the different ways to call them. In Sardinian dialect the name is casadinas, because casu means cheese. They are prepared with ricotta in some areas or Sardinian cheese in some others.

The article is come to an end. I wish you a special Easter… with one of the sweets mentioned above!


I'm a Italy lover, mom of two, living in central Italy and I love travelling. I have a degree in Tourism economics and management and now I'm a consultant helping businesses working in tourism.

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