By Chef Alessandro Di Maggio
I grew up on the eastern coast of Italy, where we could look out at the Adriatic Sea and its palm-lined sandy beaches, the green and snow-capped Apennine Mountains to our backs. My hometown Tortoreto is a wondrous place. Named for the turtle doves that once lived there in abundance, it is one of the smaller cities in one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe—Abruzzo, known as the greenest region in Europe. Wolves, brown bears, European mountain antelope and golden eagles roam the enormous national parks there.
Due to her natural beauty, historical castles and architectural gems, as well as the food, Abruzzo has become one of Italy’s most sought-after wedding destinations. Abruzzo offers endless fairytale-like locations for magical matrimonies: beach weddings along the gorgeous coast; hillside castles and historical villas contained between the mountains and the sea; or, for brides craving the Italian countryside, elegant farmhouses surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.
I especially cherish my homeland’s offerings of food specialties and wine—specifically delightful and delicious Italian wedding confetti.
Italian wedding confetti is not crafted from tiny pieces of paper but dragée almonds, carrying a rich symbolic significance. In Italy, what the English consider paper confetti, is still called coriandoli, while “confetti” means confection or confiture and is the word reserved for sugared almonds. Sulmona, another city in the region of Abruzzo, is known as the confetti capital of the world, due to their production of confetti for centuries.
Sulmona confetti was first invented by Poor Clares in the 15th century, when nuns at the Santa Chiara monastery wrapped pieces of almond candy in silk to pay homage to noble brides. Nuns also gave bishops and royalty dragée, created from imported luxury sugar from Persia as welcome gifts. As history tells, peasants only received the chance to taste the sweet during the Ferragosto processions.
Today, now that sugar is more widely available, this wedding confetti is readily available to both commoners and royalty. Prince William even chose to use Italian wedding confetti on his big day.
In addition to confectionary confetti, other Italian wedding sweets have influenced cultures both past and present. The ancient Romans used to cover fruit, flowers, nuts and kernels in honey to make sweet treats. Honey-coated coriander seeds were used to throw over newlyweds as a symbol of good luck.
Today, the candy almond confetti also carries deep meaning underneath its delicious flavor and colorful coating. White almonds are used to symbolize purity at weddings, and the bride and groom may offer these sweet treats to their families.