As we saw yesterday, Italy has a wonderfully diverse and completely original way of celebrating the festivities – as Alessio Cartone says there are “20 regions, each one with their own tradition”. We spoke to 2 of our Italian wineries, Ciu Ciu Vini and Villamedoro, about what they usually do and how they’ll be spending this Christmas. Once again, panettone proves to be a popular Italian Christmas tradition!
Ciu Ciu Vini
“Christmas is by definition a celebration to be enjoyed by the family. In Marche, most of the families start the celebrations on December 24th at dinner, for what we call “Vigilia” (the waiting of the birth). The term Vigilia is originally related to having a frugal dinner, not involving any meat. Nowadays, meat is still banned from the tables but in its place families tend to feast on fish. After dinner, there’s always time for some table games, and then at midnight, everybody goes to the village Mass. On Christmas day things turn a little bit hectic as the kids rush to wake up and open their presents. The morning is always noisy, crowded and fun when everybody is sharing presents, hugs and helping out in the kitchen.
Christmas lunch starts with “Cappelletti in Brodo”, a recipe based on hand-made pasta stuffed with meat and cooked in chicken broth. It goes on with the poached chicken (the one the broth has been made from) which in the local dialect is known as “Allesso”, and that is normally served with mustard and many vegetable side dishes. It’s then time for “Fritto”, a big course involving several cuts of meat (chicken, veal, lamb), mozzarella, artichokes, zucchini, carrots and olives, all deep-fried for a yummy result. The “Olive Fritte” are a worldwide famous, also known as “Olive all’Ascolana”. The recipe goes back to the 19th century and involves a local sweet olive cold Tenera Ascolana with a filling of pork, veal, egg, parmesan. As a dessert in Marche we have adopted the tradition of “Panettone” and “Pandoro” which is original from the north of Italy (Milan and Verona), but in some more conservative’s families, you can still find the “Zuppa Inglese” an exquisite delicacy based on cream, chocolate and liquor. Christmas luncheon normally starts at 1 PM and goes on until 5 when the table is then cleaned and set for the “Tombola” the Italian version of Bingo.
Dinner… are you kidding me? If this height of the day there’s no more space for food. On the other hand the next day, December 26th, there’s another constant in our Christmas celebrations, and another family gathering. As people enjoy spending time together, food becomes the glue again. The leftovers from Christmas Day are normally reprocessed to make meatballs, omelettes, and cakes. In all this, wine also has a very important role. On everyone’s table, you cannot miss bubbles dry and sweets. White wines are mainly Pecorino and Verdicchio and reds are mainly Rosso Piceno and Montepulciano based blends as they go on from father to son as a local tradition.”
Paolo Agostinelli, Ciu Ciu Vini
“As you know, Italy is a country really rich in traditions, and in Abruzzo, we are very proud of our history and heritage. Food and wines are what make Italy different from every other country. 20 regions, each one with their own tradition. And Christmas time is one of the most important moments of the year to celebrate the family and our traditions. Christmas in Abruzzo means FAMILY and TIME. It’s not only a religious festivity. It’s much more. Christmas is the occasion to gather all the family around a table, eat typical food and drink special wine. Christmas is not only a day, the 25 of December, it’s a period, during which different generations of the same family spend time under the same roof.
Grandmothers, mothers and daughters preparing the lunch, handing down, from generation to generation, old beliefs, customs and traditions. Grandfathers, fathers and sons, taking care of firewood, animals in the farm and obviously wine to drink altogether during the Christmas Lunch. In Abruzzo, we have a really old recipe, that requires much time and passion, and Christmas is the perfect moment to cook all together. Imagine three generation cooking together, talking about old stories. It is the knowledge of grandmothers and mothers that is passed on to children. It’s a way to carry on the tradition and keep alive the old customs of a region with a thousand years of history.
Abruzzo, especially in the past, was a poor region and so Christmas was the occasion to cook and eat the best food that our land can offer to us. Spaghetti Alla Chitarra with meatballs, Timballo, Scrippelle m’busse, chicken broth, Mazzarelle, lamb, chicken, traditional Christmas dessert. Obviously must not miss the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo on the table to toast at the family and at the great time spent together.
Christmas is first of all the holiday of the children, many games to play together: Tombola, the most important game during this time. The generation change but in Abruzzo, Christmas happiness is still alive in the new generation and is one of the most eagerly anticipated times of the year.”
Alessio Cartone, Villamedoro