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Dolci dei morti o fave dei morti: All Saints’ cakes

Discover the reason why Santa Maria della Consolazione church, better well-known as Chiesa della Fava ( in Castello district, close to the Rialto bridge) is famous for all Saints’ cakes.

Detail of Santa Maria della Fava in the 1500


The church of Santa Maria della Fava was built very close to the water and next to the bridge as you can see from the picture above. It can be identified by its tympanum typical of churches built in the 1500s.

Santa Maria della Fava was reconstructed in the 1700s. This is how it looks like today. This church was originally built to host an icon representing Mary that a pastry chef used to keep on the façade of his building located not far away from it.


Sweets for the dead

This man prepared the sweets of the dead on All Saints' Day.


Legumes


The fave were originally legumes which the noblemen did not like for their taste, so they were transformed into sweets. They were given as gifts by priests to the poor and to the gondoliers, who ferried them for free. It is still customary to prepare them on the day when the deceased are commemorated. Those sweets are the size of a walnut and their shape is crushed, made of almond paste and pine nuts. They are white, pink or brown, depending on whether they are flavored with maraschino, rose water or cocoa. The three colors symbolize the cycle of life: the white ones, vanilla-based, symbolize birth; the pink ones life and the brown ones death.

In the 1600s they were distributed at the end of a nobleman’s funeral, a tradition that ended one hundred years after.

Today you can just find them in the pastry stores from the end of October to the beginning of November.

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