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The One Thing You Need to Make a Celebration Truly Italian

When you think of the word confetti, small colored pieces of paper, mylar, or metallic material probably come to mind. In Italy, confetti is a traditional sweet that is given out at celebrations. Most people will recognize these Italian sugared almonds as “Jordan almonds” but they are very much an authentic Italian culinary invention. The almond candies are typically put together in small tulle bags, but they can also be twisted together into the shape of a flower. The word “confetti” is thought to come from the Latin word confectum, which means “wrapped.” The tradition of little wrapped goodies or sweets coated in honey dates all the way back to Roman times. 

(Photo Credit: Arianna DiCicco)

In the Italian region of Abruzzo, one of the most signature treats and traditions is confetti. The sugar coated almonds that Italians proudly share at weddings, baptisms, graduations and significant family events are a symbol of celebration and good luck. The shining star of confetti production in Italy is the medieval city of Sulmona, located in the L’Aquila region of Abruzzo. Known as “la citta di confetti", Sulmona has culturally become a city that is more than just the birthplace of the Latin poet, Ovid. When visiting Sulmona, you can wander down Corso Ovidio, looking out to the well preserved medieval aqueduct, to find the street speckled with little craft shops and cafes selling an assortment of colorful bags and bouquets of confetti. 

Confetti production in Sulmona is known worldwide for its unique flavor, traditional production methods and usage of Avola almonds. Of the many confetti producers based in Sulmona, the leader in confetti production is Mario Pelino’s Confetti Pelino, since 1783. The Pelino confetti are still hand-made and uniquely distinguished by their special recipe that lacks flour or other forms of starch. Not to be missed when visiting Sulmona is the Confetti Pelino Museum, displaying old-fashioned confectionery machines and equipment, memorabilia and precious, rare objects relating to the ancient Sulmonese art of confectionery.

(Photo Credit: Arianna DiCicco)

The classic Italian bomboniere (party favor) that you’ll notice at a special event is always filled with confetti and in an array of colors depending on the celebration. The number of confetti is also noteworthy. Typically, you will find an odd number of confetti inside of a bomboniere. Five refers to the wishes of fertility, longevity, good health, wealth, and happiness. Three symbolizes a couple and a child, and one confetto represents the uniqueness of the event.

The most quintessential souvenir from Sulmona is confetti. They are a source of Abruzzo pride that you can find at any Italian celebration around the world!

Arianna DiCicco

Arianna DiCicco is an educator and writer from California, born into an Italian American restaurant family with strong ties to her grandparents’ home in Abruzzo, Italy. She has lived in San Francisco, Rome and New York City where she’s made deep connections within the Italian communities and gained new perspectives about her own culture. With a Masters in International Education, Arianna has a love and passion for learning and educating others about Italian history & culture.