I Ceci Della Sposa – Pescasseroli’s Zesty Fertility Rite

I ceci della sposa (The Bride’s Chickpeas) is Pescasseroli’s ancient fertility rite held the first weekend of August that is thought to have arrived with the shepherds and transumanza from Puglia.
Chickpeas have long been held to promote fertility and vigour and throughout history were not just fed to happy couples on their wedding days but to gladiators and stallions!

Many Hands Make Light Work

The first stage of the tradition involves orange and lemon zest, bay leaves, rosemary and fenugreek which are left overnight to infuse in the water that the chickpeas are re-hydrated in. The next day the chickpeas are cooked and then roasted in “cuttrell” copper pots in the main piazza, which you see locally used as flower boxes.
They are then soaked in a mixture of aromatic liqueurs (Rum, Cointreau) mixed with aromatic spices like vanilla and cinnamon and dried.
The final stage of the process is the chickpeas wrapped in small bags and served traditionally like almond confetti at a wedding.   Each stage of their preparation sees groups of local women coming together despite this being the busiest time of year with the various crop harvests and of course child care!
You can taste them on the first weekend of August when the town hosts its annual I Ceci della Sposa event alongside a fabulous parade of vintage wedding dresses worn by the younger women of the village.   There is of course a lot of ironing involved in that!
Check with the  Associazione Culturale Commercianti Centro Storico Pescasseroli for all the latest events hosted in Pescasseroli.
A big thank you to Alessio Foderini for use of his wonderful photos of one of the chickpea parties!

Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 11 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance travel and food web content manager and copywriter and EFL teacher - she is the founder of English in the Woods. She is the co-founder of the social enterprises: The Abruzzo Blogger Community and Let's Blog Abruzzo. She is currently writing the book 'Abruzzo: Folk and Food.

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