The word “befana” comes from the Greek “epiphany” and it means apparition. In the collective imagination the befana is an old woman with a long nose and a sharp chin, who travels at night on a broom. She appears at night on January 6th bringing gifts to all the good children. The night before her arrival they are supposed to leave a sock under the fireplace or in the kitchen that she fills with gifts, but especially candies and sweet coal.
To thank her for her visit as a reward in the past, it was tradition to leave her favorite cake, “the pinza” ready for her on the kitchen table.