Sweets for Father’s Day and the Festa di San Giuseppe

Today is the Festa di San Giuseppe, or St. Joseph’s Day and there are so many people celebrating this special day. Let’s start with the Sicilians, who for many of them look at St. Joseph as their patron saint. You see, during the Middle Ages it is believed that St. Joseph saved Sicily from a severe famine.

Then we have all the people who are named Giuseppe or Giuseppina, and there are a lot of them, who are celebrating their namesake.

And last, but not least, all the dads and father figures are celebrated because the Festa di San Giuseppe is also Father’s Day in Italy. It makes sense since St. Joseph was Jesus’ foster father.

So, what do the Italians do to celebrate?

Eat, of course!

Throughout Italy, bakers are rolling up their sleeves to make traditional sweets that are connected to this festive day. Here’s a look at three sweets you’ll typically find in southern Italy. Although they are very similar, they all have something unique that ties them to their region.


Zeppole are most commonly found in the regions of Calabria, Campania, Abruzzo and Puglia. You’ll find these delicious pastries either fried or baked. I prefer the baked variety, not because it’s “healthier” but it just gives it a lighter flavor. Zeppole come in different sizes but they are all formed in the shape of a ring which is then filled with a pastry cream. They are topped with a dusting of icing sugar and an amarena cherry. You’ll find zeppola in any bakery or bar that sells pastries and if you want to pick some up today, don’t be surprised if you’ll have to take a number and wait in line. It’ll be worth the wait though, trust me!


In Sicily, in particular Palermo or Trapani, dads are more than likely indulging in sfinci. They are round-shaped pastry puffs that are fried and then filled with a sweet ricotta filling much like the one used to create cannoli. If that wasn’t enough, they are topped with more cream, chocolate chips or pistachios and candied fruit. You’ll find these in all sizes from small to large. Whatever you do, pick up some extra because you won’t be able to resist having another!


Although you’ll find bignè throughout the year, they are especially popular in Rome during the Festa di San Guseppe. They are very similar to their cousin the zeppola in that they are fried puff pastries which are filled with custard. Sometimes you’ll find them with a dusting of powdered sugar or even rolled around in sugar. These small sweets are so delicious you’ll definitely have trouble resisting “just one more”.

Now that we’ve got your sweet tooth craving one of these delicious treats, which would reach for first? Share your answer over at the My Bella Vita Travel Facebook Page.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father figures and Buon Onomastico to all the Giuseppes and Giuseppinas!!

Image Credits: pierpeter, walimai73 GiulioLombardo92