Italian Epiphany: eat, drink…and sweep?

La Befana If you’re looking for a great excuse to break any new year diet resolutions, head to Italy!

6th January is the Epiphany day, marking the date Jesus was shown to be the son of God.

On this day, Italian families gather for a big lunch (and consider that in Italy 2-3 courses are standard fare!), with dessert being the last of the Christmas treats such as Panettone.

There are often parades and other events around the towns and cities, however stores are generally closed in preparation for 7th January when the big post-Christmas sales start.

Whilst Christmas has good ol’ Father Christmas (or, ‘Babbo Natale’), the ‘Epifania’ has La Befana. Usually depicted more witch-like than merry, she is flies in on a broom to bring sweets and gifts to good children (and coal to the naughty).

She also puts her broom to good uses, sweeping the floors on her way out. As a reward, it is custom to leave a glass of wine for La Befana*.

There are presently no laws in Italy about drinking and broom-flying.

Our favourite version of the La Befana story tells that she offered accommodation to the Three Wise Men along their way to find Baby Jesus. When they went on their way the day after, she finished up her chores then set off to meet up with them, taking a gift for Jesus with her. To this day, La Befana continues on her search, stopping at each house along the way.


Learn to make delicious, typical Italian foods and recipes on our new Italian Passions: Food & Wine Tour or join us for a hands-on cooking class in Florence or Cooking Classes in a Tuscan Villa.

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* PLEASE NOTE: All of the Artviva staff would also gladly offer a glass of wine to anyone willing to do our housekeeping! Two if laundry is included, the whole bottle for ironing.  🙂

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