10 traditional Easter desserts in Italy to enjoy at home

Italian Easter pastries you have to try at least once / Wikipedia
Italian Easter pastries you have to try at least once / Wikipedia
18 March 2021, Eleonora Passetto

Easter 2021 is just around the corner, and while celebrations and festivities will be different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, you'll can still enjoy the finest Italian Easter traditions at home. There are a wide range of sweet Italian treats to enjoy this Easter 2021 at home; some are very simple desserts and pastries linked to the peasant culture, while others are more elaborate and colourful. There are desserts strongly linked to the territory and others that have gone beyond the regional borders and then become a symbol of Easter in Italy.

Let's find out about 10 traditional Easter desserts from all over Italy that, despite continued COVID-19 restrictions, you can still enjoy or even have a go at making yourself at home!

Colomba - Lombardy

A Milanese specialty, the Easter Dove / Nicola Flickr
A Milanese specialty, the Easter Dove / Nicola Flickr

Colomba di Pasqua (literally meaning Easter Dove Bread in English) is an traditional Italian Easter cake. It is one of the most popular Easter cakes in Italy, but also the most commercialised: you can find it in all Italian patisseries and bakeries, ad even in supermarkets. The dough for the colomba is made with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast and butter and is covered with pearl sugar and almonds. This traditional Italian Easter bread is baked in the shape of a dove to symbolise peace.

Pinza - Friuli Venezia Giulia

Pinza, a sweet leavened bread from Trieste / Dolci Senza Rinunce
Pinza, a sweet leavened bread from Trieste / Dolci Senza Rinunce

The Pinza is a soft and delicate loaf bread which is not very sweet and is flavoured with lemon and orange peel. This sweet treat is typically from Trieste and the tradition is to consume it accompanied by a slice of ham to break fasting on Good Friday. On the surface, you can generally find a drawing of what looks like the letter Y, a symbol which recalls the passion of Christ as Italy is traditionally a Catholic country.

Salame del papa - Piedmont

Chocolate salami / Wikimedia commons
Chocolate salami / Wikimedia commons

The salame del papa or chocolate salami, is a dessert with a shape reminiscent of salami. This sweet treat is very tasty and contains typical Piedmontese ingredients such as butter, hazelnuts and cocoa. This is the perfect treat for Easter or any time of year and is loved by all the family. This dessert is also simple to prepare at home as it isn't cooked in the oven and is quick to make - just add all the ingredients together with butter and form a salami-like shape before leaving to set.

Pasimata - Tuscany

Pasimata, an easter cake from Garfagnana, Lucca / Luccaindiretta
Pasimata, an easter cake from Garfagnana, Lucca / Luccaindiretta

La pasimata is a Tuscan Easter cake with a long and laborious preparation (sometimes as long as 2 days!). Typical of Garfagnana, Lucca, it is made with few simple ingredients (flour, eggs, butter, sugar, yeast) but has a great taste, similar to panettone, but flavoured with anise and orange peel for a rich Spring flavour.

Tortano - Lazio

The tortano is prepared in Gaeta (Latina), in southern Lazio. It is a donut-shaped cake with icing sugar, egg whites and decorated with an abundance of coloured sprinkles. It is a very simple dessert full of unique goodness, seeming almost like eating a cloud as it's so soft. For the different aromas, you can use almond-flavours or citrus. It is important to whisk the eggs well with the sugar until they become light and fluffy, as this guarantees the right level of softness for the typical Italian dessert.

Pastiera Napoletana - Campania

This dessert is eaten in the Campania region / Wikipedia
This dessert is eaten in the Campania region / Wikipedia

Pastiera is the Neapolitan Easter cake par excellence, known and appreciated throughout Italy. It is a tart made with shortbread for the crust, and filled with wheat cooked in milk and the traditional Italian ingredient of ricotta. It is often flavoured with orange peel, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon peel, candied citrus peel, orange blossom water and sometimes with pumpkin preserve.

Pastatelle - Apulia

Pastatelle is a typical Apulian recipe that you can find on many dinner tables in the region during the Easter period. They are simply panzerotti or small sweet calzoni containing different kinds of jams. Once cooked, they are brushed with milk and egg yolks and decorated with icing sugar.

'Ncinetti - Calabria

The 'Ncinetti or Uncinetti, are typical Easter biscuits that originate in south of Italy. The 'ncinetti are traditionally prepared on the occasion of Palm Sunday and then hung to decorate the palms outside the church. They are easy to make and the ingredients include eggs, sugar and flour, but are special because of their thick layer of icing made with egg yolk and anise.

Cassata - Sicily

Cassata siciliana, famous all over the world / Wikipedia
Cassata siciliana, famous all over the world / Wikipedia

Cassata is definitely one of the most popular Italian desserts abroad. It is a sponge cake made with creamy ricotta, aromatic almond flavours and candied fruit. There are many local varieties that make it unique and special both in appearance and in the dough, and if you can't handle a whole cake, you can also buy it in single portions, called cassatine.

Cuddura - Sardinia

Cuddura, a typical Easter dish from Sardinia / Wikipedia
Cuddura, a typical Easter dish from Sardinia / Wikipedia

This is a very simple dessert made of leavened bread dough (or shortbread) and decorated with hard-boiled eggs and coloured sprinkles. This sweet Easter treat can be found in many different shapes and sizes and can be in the shape of a basket, a dove, bells, hearts, dolls, and many more, while each shape has its own meaning.

Now that you know a bit more about some of the typical Easter pastries in Italy, you'll definitely have to try them this Easter 2021 or have a go at making them at home.

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