Halloween in Italy
Halloween celebrations as we know them, with cobweb-decorated houses, pumpkins creatively carved into eerie figures and children dressed in their favourite ghostly attire, is originally a North American tradition. Despite this, with a population ever-ready for an excuse to partake in festivities, many regions across Italy have swooped like bats into the spooky spirit with new Halloween-themed events popping up annually.
In Venice, for example, from the end of October through to early November, special plays and performances, named the “Spettacoli di Mistero” (Shows of Mystery), based on legends of the area are held for local entertainment. The city of Bologna, in the Emilia-Romagna region also holds historically rich evening tours in their eerie medieval castles and towers.
All Saints Day & Day of the Dead
More traditionally in Italy, from cosy mountain communes nestled in the Ligurian Apennines to picturesque fishing villages lining the Amalfi Coast, it is the arrival of November which beckons families across the Italian peninsula to celebrate those they have lost in La fest di Ognissanti, or All Saints Day. Schools and businesses close as communities come together in the cold winter dawn to attend mass, visit and exchange gifts with family and gather in cemeteries to honour loved ones that have passed with candles and chrysanthemum flowers.
Each year, the festivities are spread over two days, starting with La festa di Ognissanti on November 1st, followed by Giorno dei Morti (All Souls' Day, or Day of the Dead) on November 2nd. Like many ancient Italian holidays, a bountiful feast is paramount to the celebrations. Traditional autumn flavours will take centre stage, such as roasted chestnuts, black truffle and, of course, pumpkin.
The Mantua Pumpkin
There are an incredible host of different pumpkin varieties, however there is one which seems to be revered above the rest: the Mantua Pumpkin. The Mantua province, boasting three impressive lakes surrounding its capital in the northern region of Lombardy, is home to one of Italy’s favourite pumpkin varieties: Cappello del Prete, meaning ‘the priest’s hat’, a playful reference to its turban-like shape. The Mantua pumpkin’s signature grey-green exterior contrasts beautifully with its vibrant orange flesh, which is renowned for its delicate sweetness and is used for both savoury dishes and desserts. In Italy, no part of this charming pumpkin goes to waste; the flowers are delicious when stuffed and deep fried, while the seeds and peel are used in soups and conserves.
Got Leftover Pumpkins?
After a spooky-filled Halloween weekend it would be a shame to get rid of all those perfectly delicious pumpkins! Why not try your hand at making our delicious Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter? Or if you’re looking for more of a challenge, follow chef Roberta’s step-by-step video guide below to master the art of pumpkin-filled pasta with black and orange coloured dough! Happy Halloween!
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