Pro Loco Santa Croce
It is true that the history of Santa Croce sull’Arno is closely linked to its tanneries, but it is also linked to a delicious cake with a bitterish taste, shaped like a tiny ‘volcano’ with a burnished top, the amaretto.
The amaretto di Santa Croce probably originated in the 19th century: it was the nuns of the Santa Cristiana convent who started producing it at the instigation of the Duchess Maria Luigia of Austria who influenced the craft activities of many convents.
It seems that amaretto was given to benefactors as early as the 13th century during the Christmas festivities. The recipe has remained unchanged, the ingredients that make amaretto special are always three: finely chopped almonds, sugar and eggs. Some add a little liqueur or grated lemon peel to the mixture, others sprinkle a snowfall of icing sugar on the ‘top’ of the amaretto. These are just small variations of the biscuit come out of the convent in the 20th century, and not only at Christmas time.
The local bakeries have set up an Amaretto Festival, which takes place on 8 December, the anniversary of the Virgin Maria apparition to Santa Cristiana in 1278. Bakeries and pastry shops compete for the Amaretto d’oro, the prize reserved for the best biscuit from Santa Croce.