Everywhere you go, you find different customs, and never is this more true than at Easter. Each part of Tuscany has its own Easter traditions, especially where the kitchen is concerned, and because of this we have come up with a guide to the typical festive sweets. Let’s begin!
Sportella and Ceremito
On the Isle of Elba, particularly at Rio nell’Elba and Rio Marina, Easter is embodied by sportella. On Easter Monday, indeed, there is a festival in honour of this sweet, which resembles a doughnut and is covered with coloured sugar sprinkles. Sportella, along with cirimito (or ceremito), is exchanged between boyfriends and girlfriends: its shape, which is rather suggestive, is meant to symbolise fertility for the coming harvest.
Quaresimali are biscuits shaped like letters of the alphabet. They are, as the name suggests, eaten during Quaresima (Lent), so from Carnival up to Easter. It is thought that once upon a time they were sweets allowed during the period, because their letters could be used to spread the word of the Gospel.
Scarsella from Orbetello
The Orbetellan Scarsella, a typical Easter confection, has an ochre-yellow colour and is probably Spanish in origin. In fact, there is an image of it in a room of the El Pueblo museum, Barcelona.
Easter Schiacciata alla Livornese
We continue our roundup of typical Tuscan sweets with the Easter schiacciata eaten in Livorno, which resembles panettone in certain ways. Packed with timeless flavours, it is good whether hot or cold, and might even be filled with some homemade jam.
There is a sweet version of Panina Aretina, also known as Pan Giallo, whose smells and flavours are characterised by saffron, raisins and spices. According to tradition, it would be found, in its sweet or savoury form, on every table in Casentino on Easter morning, making part of a rich breakfast alongside hard-boiled eggs, salad, lamb cutlets and cold meats.
Corolli Senesi are also standard Easter fare: doughnuts with a dough very similar to that of Easter Schiacciata. Aniseeds, however, are the crucial ingredient.
In Garfagnana, and the wider Lucchesia, Pasimata is made to a long and laborious preparation method: it can take more than a day. This dish has its origins in poor cuisine, and was traditionally prepared for the evening before Easter; on Sunday it would be taken to Mass to receive a blessing, along with the eggs. Lard and sugar hav crept into the modern recipe.
Pan di Ramerino
Pan di Ramerino is a soft, sweet bread made with muscatel raisins and rosemary. It has been made since the Medieval period and is traditionally eaten during Lent, up to Holy Thursday.
Scole are an Easter sweet bread particular to the Pistoia area. They contain anise and are normally eaten at breakfast.
Torta di Riso
Torta di riso is made for the festive periods, including Easter, around Massa and Carrara. It is based on egg, rice, milk and alcohol, which are transformed into a cake, round or square depending on the pan, with a layer of rice on the bottom and a layer of dessert cream on top.
Ciambellini are simple sweet doughnuts, made of eggs, sugar, flour, butter, yeast and a drop of sweet wine. These delicacies can be fond across the whole Valdichiana, whether at the Aretine or the Sienese side.
Easter Schiacciata with the little birds of San Piero
This schiacciata is another typical Easter treat on the Isle of Elba. No effort is spared on the decoration of this aniseed-rich bread, which is adorned with handmade little birds. It is blessed at Holy Mass on Easter Sunday.
Photos by Marco Ramerini