Easter celebrations in Italy are filled with rich foods and delicious sweets, yet one of the most quintessential parts of La Pasqua is perhaps the simplest – the chocolate egg or “l’uovo di cioccolato.” Often hollow and filled with surprises for children, chocolate eggs are a staple in Italy.
Eggs maintain a long tradition of symbolizing the resurrection of Christ and the rebirth of springtime flowers and plants, which is why they are essential to Easter. Though the first chocolate eggs appeared in Italy in the early 1800s, the Italian city of Turin, dubbed the Chocolate Capital, is credited with revitalizing the tradition almost a century later.
Turin is home to some of Italy’s best chocolatiers, including Stratta, which has made its home there since 1836; Cioccolateria del Capitano Rosso, founded by a former ocean liner captain who decided to leave the seas in favor of his passion for chocolate and master chocolate-maker Giovanni Bellisima, a Sicilian who relocated to Turin and designs eggs for prestigious brand names like Caffarel and Talmone. Easter delights from these companies can be purchased in the United States at most Italian specialty stores.
Some of the most famous chocolate Easter eggs come from the Perugina Factory, the leading Italian confectionary company based in Perugia in Umbria. Baci is the company’s most popular confection, made since 1922. Perugina offers festively packaged giant chocolate eggs which are displayed in storefronts throughout Italy in the weeks before Easter. Inside the milk chocolate eggs are miniature chocolate treats. The dark chocolate and white chocolate Baci eggs each hold four pieces marked “bacio,” a “kiss” of chocolate, filled with a hazelnut and the milk chocolate-hazelnut paste known as gianduia. Perugina eggs are the most popular treat in Italy this time of year.
Strega Alberti is a company based in Campagna operated by the Alberti family since 1860. An artisanal confectioner, the company offers an extensive Easter collection. One of their best sellers is the hollow ostrich-sized eggs in flavors such as croccantino (almond with crunchy caramel) and milk chocolate with nougat.
Confetti Pelino is best known for its candy-coated almonds, which the company has been crafting since 1783, but the Abbruzzo-based confectioner also makes some spectacular Easter treats. Their walnut-sized gianduja eggs feature a crunchy shell that keeps the smooth chocolate-hazelnut interior creamy and fresh. Another delicious offering is the Fiore di Pesco carta, a hard shelled sugary treat that is artfully crafted in the shape of Easter flowers.
While hollow Easter eggs often contain small treats for children, they are also known to hold treasures for adults. Italians looking to give an extra special gift to a loved one, like an engagement ring, keys to a new car or tickets to a tropical island, visit their local chocolatier who will craft special eggs containing anything their heart desires.
Be sure to give a ‘l’uovo di cioccolato’ to your loved ones this Easter and bring a favorite Italian tradition to your Pasqua celebration.