Tag Archives: Undiscovered Italy

Easter Traditions In Rome

Fountain in Piazza Navona - Rome

I have had the pleasure of spending Easter in Rome a number of times. The city is very crowded with tourists and often school children. “La Settimana Santa” or the Holy Week is considered a perfect time to visit the Eternal City. Many hope to see the Pope who is in residence and gives Mass in St. Peter’s square on Easter morning.


Romans skip their cornetti or brioche as they are known in other parts of Italy and have a big breakfast with eggs and salami. I once had one that was billed as an Easter donut or Ciambella that was filled with eggs and salami. The only problem was that we were on a sailboat going around the island of Elba and the weather wasn’t great so that kind of a heavy breakfast on Easter was hard for me but hey who am I to argue with tradition.

After breakfast, when in Rome, many do try to go see the Pope. One year I did that as well. The crowd was immense and the experience was intense and moving, even to a non-Catholic such as myself.


When Romans sit down for their Easter lunch, as I did with friends at their home in Zagarolo, they will find Abbacchio at the table, or lamb. Here’s a recipe for how it is made. You will also find Carciofi alla Romana. I love Artichokes and this is the season you will find them in Italian markets all over the country. Here is a recipe for making Carciofi alla Romana. Lots of other items may be part of the meal but these two are key components as is the Colomba di Pasqua for dessert.

While this is happening, what are people drinking? I’ve found that Romans tend to have a mix of wines at the meal. Perhaps a red wine with the lamb. It could be Cesanese del Piglio which is a local grape from Lazio. I first discovered this grape variety in 2005 when I was doing a series of interviews with winemakers throughout Italy for a project. Cesanese del Piglio is made from a minimum of 90% Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese is not that widely seen on wine list menus and I think it is a real shame. It produces wines that are hearty and ruby red in color. It also brings spice and supple tannins to the table and blends well with other grape varieties.


For dessert, Romans have a few fun local choices including Malvasia del Lazio which I wrote about in February as part of my Italian indigenous grape variety series. Or perhaps Cannellino from Frascati made with Malvasia and Trebbiano.

Easter Monday is a holiday in Italy, Pasquetta. Everyone is generally having a big lunch somewhere “fuori porta” or out of town. I have many fond memories of Easter in Italy and Pasquetta. It’s a lovely way to begin the Spring season.

Here are a variety of other Easter dishes and wines to enjoy.  If you catch this in time, chat with us live this Saturday April 1st on Twitter at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.  

Jen from Vino Travels features Easter Celebrations in Puglia

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features Il Verdetto di
Pasqua + Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Riserva Carignano
Susannah of Avvinare features Easter Traditions in Rome
Jill of L’Occasion features 5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings

Gwendolyn of Art Predator features Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine

Mike of Undiscovered Italy features Colomba di Pasqua

Join us next month on May 6th as Gwendolyn from Art Predator hosts Italian Sparkling Wines.  See you then!


Filed under #ItalianFWT, Holidays, lazio, Memorable Events, wines

Discover Off the Beaten Path Nebbiolos from the Carema and Canavese DOCs

italy 600

While people often debate the merits of Brunello vs. Barolo or Barolo vs Barbaresco, the smaller appellations where Nebbiolo grows are often overlooked. This is certainly the case with Carema DOC and it is a real shame. I first heard of these wines about 20 years ago when I lived in Florence and someone who was close to me mentioned them as sensational wines. He had worked for many years at Olivetti in Ivrea and discovered the wines during his years in Piedmont. I always remembered the name Carema because it sounded musical and lyrical to me. The wines when I finally tried them a couple of years later were what I could call lyrical –  elegant and beautiful expressions of Nebbiolo. Carema is located in the province of Turin very close to the Valle d’Aosta. In fact, I visited there after a skiing vacation in the Valle d’Aosta, an amazing part of Italy as well, and not to be missed.

These are some of the most northern Nebbiolos one will find and growing vines on the steep and terraced vineyards there is quite difficult. The wines are a tad more austere than some of the Nebbiolos people might be used to. They also have great acidity, again not, what one immediately associates with Nebbiolo. There are two varieties of Nebbiolo that grow in this area, one is called Picutener and the other  Pugnet. Carema sits on the remains of a moraine at the foot of the Maletto mountain. In addition to this special mineral rich soil, the climate also helps to grow healthy grapes as the weather is somewhat mild, and protection from harsh winds can be found both from the alps and the smaller hills surrounding the area. Furthermore, the climate is mitigated by the presence of a myriad of lakes.

The grapes grow at altitudes of 350 – 700 meters in a pergola form supported by stone pillars. These are mountain wines. It is very hard work and erosion and damage to the terracing is common, requiring constant attention to the vineyards. The terraces are all supported by dry walls. The thermal excursion or difference between day and night temperatures in this area is quite large, adding to the elegance and balance one finds in these wines as it helps grapes reach phenolic ripeness. The pillars also help to retain heat during the day and then they release it at night, again, helping to keep the vines healthy with a good balance between acidity and sugar in the grapes.

The wines are aged for 24 months by law, at least 12 of which in oak or chestnut barrels. For the Reserva level, they age for 36 months. While Caluso makes wines with Erbaluce and Canavese makes many wines not just Nebbiolo as one finds in Carema, all three are grouped together in a Consortium and thus I am mentioning all three of them. The first Consortium was established in 1991 for Caluso DOC wines. In 1996, the Consortium added Carema DOC wines and finally in 1998, Canavese DOC wines. The Consortium has some 26 members. Carema is located near a famous town called Pont Saint Martin. This is a picture of the remains of a castle there. It is named for a Roman bridge that crosses the Dora Baltea river there.


Nebbiolo also grows in the Canavese area which includes one hundred towns near Turin and 10 near the Piedmont towns of Biella and Vercelli. Other grape varieties also go into this designation including Barbera, Bonarda, Freisa and Neretto. For the Canavese Nebbiolo DOC, some 85% of the wine must come from Nebbiolo grapes, while the other 15% can be made up of other locally-grown red grapes. These Nebbiolo based wines are generally more fruit forward and less austere than the ones from Carema. Carema is much smaller than Canavese, as one can see from the list below  of production areas.  Two very well known producers  who are available in the USA are  Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema and Luigi Ferrando. Click here to find them.

The Carema DOC winegrowing area is in the town of Carema while the Canavese DOC winegrowing area is in the following towns:

Province of Torino: Agliè, Albiano d’Ivrea; Alice Superiore, Andrate, Azeglio, Bairo, Baldissero Canavese, Balangero, Banchette, Barbania, Barone, Bollengo, Borgiallo, Borgofranco d’Ivrea, Borgomasino, Burolo, Busano, Cafasse, Caluso, Candia Canavese, Caravino, Carema, Cascinette d’Ivrea, Castellamonte, Castelnuovo Nigra, Chiaverano, Chiesanuova, Ciconio, Cintano, Cofieretto Castelnuovo, Colleretto Giacosa, Corio, Coassolo, Cossano Canavese, Cuceglio, Cuorgnè, Favria, Feletto, Fiorano Canavese, Forno Canavese, Front, Germagnano, Ivrea, Lanzo Torinese, Lessolo, Levone, Loranzè, Lugnacco, Lusigliè, Maglione, Mazzè, Mercenasco, Montalenghe, Montaldo Dora, Nomaglio, Oglianico, Orio Canavese, Ozegna, Palazzo Canavese, Parella, Pavone Canavese, Pecco, Perosa Canavese, Pertusio, Piverone, Pont Canavese, Prascorsano, Pratiglione, Quagliuzzo, Quassolo, Quincinetto, Rivara, Rivarolo Canavese, Romano Canavese, Salassa, Salerano, Sarnone, San Carlo Canavese, San Colombano Belmonte, San Giorgio Canavese, San Giusto Canavese, San Martino Canavese, San Ponso, Scarmagno, Settitno Rottaro, Settirno Vittone, Strambinello, Strambino, Tavagnasco, Torre Canavese, Valperga, Vauda Canavese, Vestignè, Vialfrè, Vidracco, Villareggia, Vische, Vistrorio;

Province of Biella: Cavaglià, Dorzano, Roppolo, Salussola, Viverone, Zimone;

Province of Vercelli: Alice Castello e Moncrivello.

These Nebbiolos are absolutely worth searching out and can be both of good value and wines to keep.

Check out other alternative Nebbiolos and our discussion later today on Twitter.

Blog and Chat With Us!
Our group will get together for a chat on Twitter 10-11am today, Saturday, February 4th  to discuss our finds. Join us at #ItalianFWT!!

  • Jill from L’occasion shares The Test in Life is Unity: G. D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo
  • Susannah from Avvinare shares Discover Off the Beaten Path Nebbiolos from the Caluso, Carema and Canavese
  • Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares 2015 Cantalupo “Il Mimo” Rosato Nebbiolo
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Zuppa di Cipolla al Vino Rosso + Bava’s “Gionson” Nebbiolo
  • Mike from Undiscovered Italy shares Let’s Go Grumello
  • Jen from Vino Travels shares The Land and Soul of Ceretto
  • Gwen from Wine Predator shares Silver and Gold: Nebbiolo from Santa Barbara and Italy
  • Jeff from FoodWineClick! shares Nebbiolo Grows On My Desert Island

    Filed under #ItalianFWT, Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta, wines