On Easter Day, you’re likely to find Colomba Easter Bread (Colomba Pasquale) all over Italy, from north to south. This is remarkable in a country that takes great pride in its regional bread specialties, a place where bread types tend to vary depending on the region, city, or town.
But at Easter, Italian bakers, bread lovers, residents, and tourists unite as one: Colomba is almost as popular (and ubiquitous) as chocolate Easter eggs.
The dove-shaped breads, traditionally enjoyed at Easter Sunday dinners at home, are also served in restaurants. In the Christian tradition, the bread is flanked by an egg, representing the Resurrection, and is considered a symbol of hope.
In different regions, bakers add local ingredients—such as pistachio, limoncello liquor, and chocolate—to the dough of the sweet breads.
But one of the most unique and thoroughly modern versions of this classic delicacy, Giusti Colomba, comes from a partnership between two innovative Italian food producers, both with long family legacies.
A modern product steeped in tradition
In an award-winning recipe handed down over generations, Giuseppe Giusti has been producing Balsamic Vinegar in Modena (Emilia Romagna) since 1605. CEO Claudio Stefani Giusti, a 17th-generation member of the Giusti family, now leads the company, which is the oldest vinegar producer in Italy.
Winners of 10 Gold Awards, Giusti Balsamic Vinegars are produced in the same family casks that have been used for over 400 years, preserving the exacting production and preservation traditions of his forbearers. The company’s highest quality vinegar, Tradizionale Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, is aged a minimum of either 12 or 25 years.
But to grow and become successful as an international brand, Giusti has balanced this daunting historical legacy with an eye toward innovation and growth. One arm of that strategy has been the development of condiments, glazes, vermouths, and other gourmet products that incorporate these wonderful vinegars.
Creating a Colomba with a twist
“Growing up in Emilia Romagna, our family always opened up a Colomba at Easter and then we continued eating the rest every day for breakfast until it was gone,” says Giusti.
“My uncle Guiseppe, Zio Beppe, always added a scoop of ice cream on top with some super old balsamic vinegar,” he says. That’s how I got the idea to incorporate vinegar into the Easter bread recipe.
Giusti met Andrea Muzzi of Tommaso Muzzi—an artisanal producer of Panettone, Pandoro and Colomba based in Foligno (Umbria)—at a trade show in 2007. The Muzzi company started as a small bakery in 1795 and now distributes its products to gourmet food stores across the world.
The two men continued to cross paths at trade fairs all over the world and eventually wound up visiting each other’s companies. “At first the idea of making a Colomba with our balsamic vinegar seemed like a foul idea but we couldn’t avoid trying, ” says Giusti. “We continued to exchange ideas until we were able to come up with the perfect recipe.”
The bespoke recipe for Giusti Colomba was borne from that collaboration. This version of the Easter bread couples the sweetness of traditional Columba with the sweet and sour taste of authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
The vinegar (once called black gold) is used to soak the raisins that are added to the dough as a cream filling. Then, the entire bread is drizzled with a dark chocolate glaze, making it a delectable Easter dessert.
Available in Italy since 2021, this is the first year that Giusti Colomba will be sold online and at specialty food stores in the U.S. The company expects sales to be brisk given the growing appreciation of balsamic vinegar from Modena and America’s long love affair with “Made in Italy” food products.
Giussepe Giusti takes great pride in parenting the new Easter delicacy. “It’s amazing that a company that has produced balsamic vinegar for some four hundred years, is able to build upon two classics and introduce this novel Colomba to the world,” he says.
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