A “confetto” is a concentrate of taste, beauty and perfection that to be elected to such an outstanding position it has to be fresh and produced by an expert. The almond held inside it’s sugar coating has to be of a higher quality, the sugar coat thin and crunchy, the look not too fat but slightly long and elegant.
In fact this traditional white candy witnesses the most important events in a lifetime and follows its own “galateo” (etiquette). The number of confetti held in their “bomboniera”, a special container that the “festeggiato” (honoured) gives to his guests, and their color distinguish the different occasion it’s celebrated and by observing these details you immediately know if you are receiving them for a wedding, baptism or for a school degree.
Here you can check the complete chromatic and numerology list in case you want to follow the tradition yourself:
While the numbers have their own meaning as well: 5 confetti candies for weddings, 3 for baptism and a single one for special events.
The history of this candy is two thousand years old: the Etruscan and the Romans used to offer something very similar to their guest on very special occasions since they were considered a very refined sweet, usually preserved in precious little cases. In that period though sugar was not known yet and the nuts coat was made out of honey, which was the typical Ancient sweetener.
An old legend instead says that the coating method had been invented by an Arabic doctor who wanted to cover his bitter medicament with something sweet to make them easier to swallow, especially for his younger patients.
In spite of the introduction of sugar in 800 B.C, a modern “confetto” didn’t exist until the Renaissance in Solmona (Abruzzo), the town that boasts the oldest Italian confetto factory. Since the 1400s, Italy has used this symbol of luck and prosperity and it is rooted in our tradition even if we often forget how deep and old it’s usage can be.
The tradition wants the bride to be the one that throws, right after the wedding ceremony, fists full of confetti to the people gathered outside the church and I remember as a child fighting with the other kids to be able to catch as many as possible.
My father, who was crazy about them, was longing for his daughters to get married (we are three girls!!!) to have the excuse to go to the confetti factory and buy an embarrassing quantity. A few months later, way after the party, I could still find some anonymous packages, hidden somewhere in the house, and secretly kept to cover the time gap till the next wedding…. I never saw in my life this sort of ridiculous addiction that can push an elder man to steal from himself!
Anyway, last week I took Nazim to that factory in Milan and I was happily surprised to find it in the same location I remembered, totally unchanged from the time I used to escort my Dad in his wild confetti shopping.
This time though, apart from buying 1 Kg of freshly made confetti, I took some pictures and I asked the owner some questions about this long lasting activity run by his family since 1949.
The “Confetteria Manganini” was founded by the grandfather of the actual owner who used to work in the forties for a nearby chocolate factory (by the way the last chocolate factory existing in Milan and for sure the perfect destination for a Casa Chiesi article). As he was delivering the chocolate for the company on weekends to make extra money he realised that his clients were desperately looking for a confetti supplier. After the war Milan was destroyed: a “new idea” was 95% of the time a “good idea” and once he found a partner with the expertise needed he started the confetti business.
To step in to the factory is like going back in time: they still use the old machines, very similar to cement mixers, and still follow the traditional method that requires a lot of patience and ability.
One last curiosity about it: the “confetto” symbolises the union of the couple. The two parts of the almond are the two lovers and the coating their sentimental bound with its sweetening and protecting power…. Can we get more romantic than that?
Viale Edoardo Jenner, 14, 20159 Milano