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More Than Just Eggs

Italians take everything chocolate very seriously – and Easter eggs are no exception. Long before Christianity adopted the egg as a part of Easter traditions, ancient Romans had already established it as the symbol of new birth. easter-egg-painting-2They were huge believers of “omne vivum ex ovo” – that all life comes from the egg. In order to celebrate the new birth after winter, they would decorate eggs with various vegetable dyes (made from onion skins, beets and carrots) then gift them to each other during spring festivals.

The tradition of Easter eggs continued to be an important part of the Italian culture, with increasing popularity over time. Due to the fact that neither meat nor dairy products can be eaten Hand-piping-Easter-Eggs-1500during Lent, as a way to minimize food waste the habit of hard boiling the eggs and painting them was adopted. Even though the original tradition was to color the hard boiled eggs in red – which symbolized the blood of Christ and His resurrection – today Italian Easter Eggs are large chocolate eggs decorated with colorful food dyes and fancy decorative items. 

easter exhibition

During the Easter season, almost every shop in Italy decorates their store fronts with colorful chocolate eggs and just about every candy brand launches their Easter chocolate eggs in various sizes, colors and prices.  If you are lucky enough to be in Italy during Easter time, definitely stop by the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Milano 9 to see their annual Art of Easter Eggs Exhibition full of specially crafted pieces inspired by the Italian Easter Eggs.

But there is no need to worry if you want to stay home for Easter to celebrate it with your family, relatives and friends. 999999-62020015730In fact, Italians have figured out a way to satisfy your cravings with authentic Italian chocolate even when you are thousands miles away from Italy: Kinder Surprise! Yes- unlike the general public’s assumption Kinder Surprise is in fact Italian, made by the successful family company Ferrero, and sells their Kinder Eggs all over the world as one of their best-seller item. Believe us, their chocolate recipe is approved by all the children in the world.

Want to get even fancier this Easter? Stop in the store to check out our special counter full of Italian Easter cakes, various baskets and colorful chocolate eggs to bring home! Or join us for our Chocolate Making Class to get your hands messy by making and decorating your own traditional Italian chocolate egg!

Buona Pasqua a tutti! Happy Easter Everyone!

How Italians Mastered the Fashion of Easter Read more

Italians take everything chocolate very seriously - and Easter eggs are no exception. Long before Christianity adopted the egg as a part ...

All You Need to Know About St. Patrick’s Day

  • Why is it important?
    Saint Patrick’s Day, called as “Lá Fhéile Pádraig” in Irish, commemorates Saint Patrick as the leading saint who brought Christianity to Ireland during the fifth century and celebrates the Irish heritage and culture in general.
  • How is it related to Italy?patrick
    Historians believe that St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton in Scotland, which was technically a territory of Britain at the time. According to historical documents, his parents – Calpurnius and Conchessa – were Italians living on a British estate. So here you go, a good enough reason for Italians to celebrate the day!
  • How do I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like an Irish?
  1. Go Green: Pull out all the green stuff you have in your wardrobe and literally cover yourself with fifty shades of green from head to toe. Combining green with fashionable red and white stripes, buttons and pins are great, but make sure to keep the fun festive spirit! (Hint: Try painting shamrocks on the cheeks or go with a full-faced Irish flag of green, white and orange to really show your inner Irish soul.)
  2. Learn Some Irish Words: You might want to impress your friends with these really cool words and phrases:
    1. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day: Lá fhéile Pádraig sona duit (Law aye-la Par-ick sun-a dit)
    2. St. Paddy: This is a shortened way of saying “St. Patrick” (like calling someone named Michael, “Mike”)
    3. “What’s the craic?”: This phrase can be translated as “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” and is often used in casual settings.
    4. Grand: This multi-purpose word in Hiberno-English can be interpreted as “fine” or “great” depending on the context. It is a perfect answer to reply when someone asks “How are you?”
  3. Feed Yourself with Traditional Irish Food: We are simply going to skip the “Traditional Irish Drinks” part, because we all know that beer and spirits are the greatest consumable goods to come out of Ireland. Yet, Ireland actually has an incredible selection of cuisine as well, which will make you fall in love with the Irish even more. We suggest you go with pink bacon accompanied by traditional Irish soda bread to “keep it real”. Corned beef and cabbage are more of an Irish-American tradition, but are still some of the yummiest options of the Irish diet.
  4. Enjoy the Day: There is no doubt that you’ll earn major points from the Irish once you go through our checklist and follow our suggestions. The last step is, of course, to have lots of fun! Check out our events at viaumbria.com/events and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the way real Irish do!

For our St. Patrick’s Day themed events, please visit our website: http://viaumbria.com/events/

P.S: We will be having an all-day happy hour on St. Patrick’s Day: half price beer, wine and cocktails in addition to a special Irish inspired beer! See you then!

(And How to Celebrate It!) Read more

Why is it important? Saint Patrick’s Day, called as “Lá Fhéile Pádraig” in Irish, commemorates Saint Patrick as the leading saint who ...

From Disguise to Festivals


venice-carnival_of_venice-venetian_maskWe often associate carnivals with masks. In fact it is impossible to separate those fancy masks from the Carnevale or Mardi Gras celebrations today. But when and how did this tradition even begin?

The earliest of these masquerade festivals is known to be Carneval di Venezia, which dates back to 13th century. It is believed that the tradition of wearing the mask started as a tool to conceal their identity when Venetians would hold celebrations before Lent started. These celebrations were the only times when the upper and lower classes would socialize together. Hidden behind their masks, both aristocrats and peasants would engage in illegal activities such as gambling or underground affairs (as well as partying and dancing!). After all, the city was relatively small and not everyone wanted to share their personal life with others… The Venetian masks therefore at first symbolized freedom and class equality, allowing all citizens to indulge in behaviors that were otherwise seen as inappropriate. 

As Venetians started wearing the masks in their daily lives besides the celebrations, illicit activities started to become very popular and sexual promiscuity bcarnival8ecame publicly acceptable. Eventually, the Republic limited the wearing of masks to only certain months of the year, which included the Carnevale period. The tradition quickly spread out across the world and today masks have become iconic symbols of festivals. Whether you’re celebrating Mardi Gras, Carneval di Venezia or Brazilian Carnival, you will be surrounded by glamorous masks full of long feathers, elegant hats and lavish patterns.

Now that you learned all about the history of carnival masks, grab one for yourself and celebrate this exciting festival with us at Via Umbria!

For more information on our carnival events, please visit viaumbria.com/events

How masks became iconic carnevale props Read more

We often associate carnivals with masks. In fact it is impossible to separate those fancy masks from the Carnevale or Mardi Gras ...

Celebrate the true Venetian-style Carnevale in DC

Grab your masks and celebrate Carnevale with us!

carnevale di venezia

Ready to pack your masks and fly to Venice? No worries if you can’t make it to the other end of the world for a weekend, because we are here to give you the real Carnevale experience (without the long flight)!

To give a little bit of background, Carnevale is the final celebration before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. During the 40 days of Lent, many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance – hence, people have to get rid of all of their rich food and drink (and partying of course!) out of the way before then. In fact, it is often rumored that the word Carnevale itself may have derived from the Latin words “carne” and “vale”, meaning “farewell to meat”!

Although there have been some interruptions and political bans throughout years, Italians started celebrating Carnevale in the 13th century. Traditionally, the fanciest and most glamorous celebrations take place in Ivrea, Viareggio, Putignano, Acireale and -of course- in Venezia! Today, Carnevale di Venezia is celebrated for two weeks by about 3 million tourists from all over the world, and is best known for its elegant masks. Even though many events- especially the most glamorous masquerade balls- are invite only and have expensive ticket prices, many others such as the concerts and street performances are free and open to public.

Have you already started feeling upset that you are missing this exciting and trendy festival? There is no reason to! Luckily, Via Umbria is hosting a Carnevale Celebration, a raucous party featuring all-you-can-eat Carnevale foods and special Carnevale cocktails. Join us for food, fun and masquerade and cut loose as we count down the days toward Lent.

For information on our Carnevale Celebrations please visit our website: viaumbria.com/events

Wednesday February 22 – Carnevale Masquerade

Tuesday February 28 – Cocktail Class: Fat Tuesday

Buon Carnevale!

Ready to pack your masks and fly to Venice? Read more

Grab your masks and celebrate Carnevale with us! Ready to pack your masks and fly to Venice? No worries if you can’t make ...