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Serve Italian sweets for your next special occasion. Fireworks, Celebration of Lights-Italy by colink.

Good food is a celebration of life. — Sophia Loren, actress

Uh-oh! What do you do when that special event is now just around the corner and you’re sure of only one thing: You want to serve a dessert that’s anything but ordinary.

Celebrating with some popular Italian sweets is a good idea.

Of course, the Italian sweets we’re talking about here are beyond the ever-popular tiramisu, fabulous butter cookies, and the creamy inside, crunchy outside phenomena known as cannoli.

Take a peek at these three Italian sweets below. Each is a festive-looking pastry from one of Italy’s main geographic regions…

… that tastes as good as it looks.

We’ll travel to the cream and berry-loving North, the wheat basket of the Center, and the olive oil-rich South. And by the end of our journey, you’re sure to find at least one among this sweet trio you’ll want to try:

1. NORTHERN ITALY ~ strudel

Many people in Trentino-Alto Adige speak both Italian and German. The region was once part of Austria, its neighbor to the north. As a result, Trentino-Alto Adige and Austria share similar culinary traditions. When it comes to sweets, that means puddings, doughnuts, and strudel.

Classic apple strudel served warm hits the spot when it’s cold outside.

In the alpine region of Trentino-Alto Adige, strudel is one of the most popular Italian sweets... natch. Strudel by fugzu.

But one made with fresh cherries seems just right for springtime.

This cherry strudel is one of the berry-best Italian sweets. Cherry strudel by oksix.

2. CENTRAL ITALY ~ rocciata

Umbria, the only landlocked region in central Italy, is the heart of Italy in a geographic sense.  It is also il cuore verde d’Italia ~ the green heart of Italy ~ so nicknamed for the multiple shades of green covering its hills, mountains, and valleys.

Do you like to shoot landscapes? Umbria will be your travel photography dream vacation.

The Central Italian hills are alive with Italian sweets. ;) Castelluccio di Norcia, Umbria, Italy by Eric Huybrechts.

But especially if nuts with raisins, cranberries, or some other dried fruit is a favorite snack, visiting Umbria will put you in your happy place.

Umbria’s green-covered hills make it easy for people who enjoy hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities to fall in love with it.

So it makes sense that rocciata, a pastry stuffed with dried fruit and nuts, is one of the region’s most beloved desserts.

Think of it as an elegant trail mix, Italian-style.

Italian sweets can be (kind of) healthy in Umbria. Strudel with apples, raisins, and nuts by brhlena.

3. SOUTHERN ITALY ~ cartellate

The region of Basilicata is the arch in the “boot” that is Italy. Its access to both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas makes for a cuisine influenced as much by nearby Greece as the Byzantine and Arab conquests of Southern Italy’s past.

So even if you somehow manage to bypass the city of Matera and its UNESCO World Heritage site, Sassi (Old Town)

After sampling a dish of Southern Italian sweets, take a walking tour of the nearby sights.L'alba sui sassi di Matera (Dawn on Matera's OldTown) by BORGHY52.

~ you still have much to look forward to with the blend of flavors in local dishes.

Cartellate, small fried pastries with arabesque designs is one of these. As dessert fritters go, they are among the prettiest.

Cartellate are fried Italian sweets of Southern Italy. Cartellate alla Locanda by Antica Locanda Alpiana.

Once fried, you dip them in vincotto, a type of fruit syrup.

Or powdered sugar instead, with chocolate or without.

Now, on the other hand, warm honey and cinnamon might be just the thing … you get the idea. 

WHAT NOW?

1) If going on an Italian food ramble appeals to you, but you don’t know where to begin, check out this Northern Italian cuisine tour. It could jumpstart your gray matter into coming up with all kinds of culinary travel ideas to plan your trip to Italy around. 

PHOTO CREDITS

Feature image, Fireworks: Celebration of Light by colink; Strudel by fugzu; Cherry Strudel by oksix; Castelluccio di Norcia, Umbria, Italy by Eric Huybrechts; Strudel with Apples by brhlena; L’alba sui sassi di Matera (Dawn on Matera’s Old Town) by BORGHY52; Cartellate alla Locanda by Antica Locanda Alpina.