A taste of Christmas sweets in Calabria

Tour among the sweet delights of Calabrian Christmas, from north to south

© Regione Calabria

Food and wine

While in central and northern Italy the contest between Christmas sweets is played out on the soft edge of panettone and pandoro, with due concessions to panforte, Christmas sweets in Calabria recall the Mediterranean use of dried fruit, cloves, sultanas, honey and cooked wine, with ample room for the aromatic notes of cinnamon and star anise.

These ingredients, in dozens of different variations, are the basis of the traditional Christmas pitte, the shortcrust or puff pastry cakes that, depending on their place of origin, are called 'nchiùsa or 'mpigliàta.

The fried sweets compete with traditional biscuits, candied and iced fruit and the ever-present Calabrian nougat.

Let's discover them in detail, province by province...

Calabrian Christmas sweets

Starting with the aforementioned Christmas pitta, Calabria enriches the festive table with a wide variety of traditional Christmas sweets.

The pitta 'nchiùsa (Catanzaro) and the pitta 'mpigliàta (Cosenza) are two variants of the same puff pastry cake filled with dried fruit, honey, citrus fruits, cooked wine and other more or less local ingredients and essences (orange peel, vermouth, grappa, etc.).

Pitta mpigliata
Regione Calabria

Whether in the province of Cosenza they are called turdìlli and in the provinces of Vibo Valentia and Catanzaro ciceràta, or even strùffoli as in Campania, matters little: the mountain of fried, honey-glazed dough balls is one of the most popular Christmas sweets in Calabria, and a must during the festive season.

Accademia dei Caccuriani

Other Christmas fried sweets that the people of Calabria cannot do without are zeppole (of which, at Christmas, a savoury variant is also prepared with anchovies and 'nduja), also known as crespelle or sympathetically declined in cullurièlli/cuddrurièddi/crùstuli. Doughnuts fried in oil and served with a sprinkling of sugar or local honey.


The infinite repertoire of Christmas biscuits and pastries in Calabria is a true sin of gluttony!

Starting with the typical susumèlle, widespread in all the provinces and characterised by a biscuit dough flavoured with cinnamon and honey and covered with black or white chocolate icing, and arriving at the characteristic petràli of the province of Reggio Calabria (also known as chinulìji), crescent-shaped panzerottini filled with dried fruit and must.

In the towns of the Christmas confectionery tradition in Calabria

In Calabria, it's not Christmas without the ever-present Torrone di Bagnara PGI, one of Calabria's best-loved branded confectionery products known throughout the world.

A Christmas trip to Bagnara Calabra, in the province of Reggio Calabria, allows visitors to taste and purchase this particular Calabrian nougat, as well as admire the beauty of a town on the shores of the Strait, one of the most beautiful on the Costa Viola.

Torrone di Bagnara PGI is made from sugar, toasted almonds, honey, egg white, bitter cocoa, essential oils and powdered spices. Depending on the covering, in granulated sugar or bitter cocoa, it is distinguished in two varieties: Martiniana or Torrefatto Glazed.

Regione Calabria

Another place known for the production of Calabrian nougat is Soriano Calabro, in the province of Vibo Valentia. In the beautiful historical centre, which is arranged around the Convent of San Domenico, it is possible to taste it together with another Calabrian Christmas product: the classic mostacciòli, dry biscuits made and decorated in different shapes.

Regione Calabria

Lovers of Christmas dried fruit find their paradise in the province of Cosenza, elective territory of the prized Fico Dottato di Cosenza PDO and, along the Tyrrhenian coast of the Riviera dei Cedri, the equally prized Cedro di Santa Maria del Cedro PDO.

The first, the prince of the Calabrian Christmas table, can be found throughout the province and in particular in the two places where it is processed: Belmonte Calabro and Amantea. Delicious both in the more classic form of crocette (dried, filled with almonds or walnuts and crossed on a double stick), and glazed with chocolate, alcoholic or citrus fillings.

The latter, produced along the riviera and branded after the town of Santa Maria del Cedro, where there is a dedicated museum, is processed and candied as an international Christmas ingredient, used by the most famous panettone and Christmas cake factories around the world, in the same way as other prized Calabrian citrus fruits.


Ultimo aggiornamento: Feb 14, 2024 2:01 PM