‘Pigna’, traditional Easter sweet

The Resurrection is celebrated in every Italian village with a traditional Easter sweet such as Pigna in Ciociaria.

The breakfast on Sunday morning, after the Resurrection occurred, marks the end of fasting of Lent and is an important moment. All the families that return again to   their tastes and at Easter the homes are again filled up with the scent of Sunday meals.

Also in Ceccano they’ve come to celebrate around the traditional dishes such as the famous ‘Pigna’ the traditional Easter sweet whose roots can be found in the Kingdom of Naples.

La Pigna, in fact, is a sweet appreciated especially in that part of Ciociaria which was once part of the Kingdom of Naples. Only later was it known and consumed in that part of Ciociaria which was in the Papal States.

For this sweet similar varieties can be found in higher areas of the south and, for example, the Pigna in Caserta is known as the “casatiello”. Similar variations are the “Easter Pizza” in Tuscany or the “Molise Easter Pigna” in Molise.

At first glance the Pigna resembles a cake but, of course, can change shape according to tastes. It is a simple dough made of flour, eggs, sugar, yeast that is created through the fermentation of yogurt, or from a loaf of bread dough.

It usually is without filling but has a particular taste thanks to the various flavours and at the addition of the liquors from the local tradition. In the different regions it is seasoned in a different way: for example, adding raisins, vanilla, anise seeds, candied fruit.

In Umbria and Marche cheese is added and at Easter breakfast you make the Easter pizza with salami, blessed boiled eggs, lamb cutlets and mint.

To prepare a good Pigna requires ‘elbow grease’ and patience as it takes four days leavening. The advantage is that once cooked to perfection it can be kept for more than 40 days. Indeed, the more days that pass, the more the flavours are enhanced.

In the years of industrialization and mass abandonment of the land, the recipe for this cake disappeared in favour of the prepackaged Easter cakes in the shape of a dove. But the memory has remained amongst the people of Ceccano.  It is one of those sweet strongly rooted in its land of origin.

A group of enthusiasts and researchers recovered the old recipes by going to interview the elderly of the town and proposed the Pigna according to the tradition of Ciociaria. Recipes and preparation methods have been retrieved by young people really passionate about their country and who want to return to doing the typical trades of their land.