Italy is home to some of the world’s finest confectionary companies such as Perugina, Strega Alberti, Confetti Pelino and Ferrero, to name just a few. One can find a candy boutique on almost every block in major Italian cities, a testament to the population’s ardor for gastronomic bliss. For Pasqua, these attractive shops offer delectable candies and chocolates beautifully packaged in colorful foil and ribbon. In keeping with the Italian custom of giving gifts of sweets to the hosts of holiday gatherings, why not bring the host of your Easter dinner one of Italy’s many delicious Pasqua treats.
Most popular in Italy during Easter time are chocolate eggs or uovo di cioccolata. Easter eggs maintain a long tradition of symbolizing the resurrection of Christ and the rebirth of springtime flowers and plants. The first chocolate Easter eggs appeared in Italy in the early 1800s, but 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 sea in favor of his passion for chocolate and Master chocolate-maker Giovanni Bellisima, a Sicilian who relocated to Turin and designed eggs for prestigious brand names like Caffarel and Talmone. Easter delights from these companies can be purchased at Italian specialty stores.
Some of the most famous chocolate Easter eggs come from the Perugina Factory, the leading Italian confectionary company based in Perugia, 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 Perugina egg are five 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 Pasqua treats in Italy.
Strega Alberti is a company based in Campania that has been run 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, yet 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.
In Sicily, the Pasqua candy of choice is Agnelli Pasquali, marzipan sweets in the shape of lambs decorated with flowers and ribbons. Lambs are a symbol of Christ, so the candies are fitting for the occasion. Sicilian children also enjoy sweets in the shape of bunnies, eggs and chicks, which are available in pastericcerie throughout the Easter season.
Another important Italian chocolate and candy manufacturer is Ferrero, founded by confectioner Pietro Ferrero in 1946 and based in Alba, in the Piedmont region. Easter treats offered by the family-owned company include gorgeous, tempting chocolate Easter eggs and sugary bunny shaped candies. Sweets from Ferrero can be found in nearly every Easter basket in Italy. This year, visit your local Italian specialty shop and bring a taste of Italy to your Easter celebration with authentic Italian Pasqua sweets.