Legend has it that every spring the siren Partenope emerged from the waters of the gulf to greet the people of Naples, cheering them with songs of love and joy.
Once her voice was so melodious and sweet that all the inhabitants were fascinated and kidnapped: they rushed to the sea moved by the sweetness of the song and the words of love that the siren had dedicated to them. To thank her for such a great delight, they decided to offer her the most precious things they had.
Seven of the most beautiful maidens of the villages were commissioned to deliver the gifts to the beautiful Partenope: the flour, strength and wealth of the countryside; ricotta, a tribute from shepherds and sheep; eggs, symbol of life that is always renewed; soft wheat, boiled in milk, proof of the two kingdoms of nature; the water of orange blossom, because even the scents of the earth wanted to pay homage; spices, representing the most distant peoples of the world; finally the sugar, to express the ineffable sweetness profused by the song of Partenope in heaven, on earth, and throughout the universe.
The mermaid, happy for so many gifts, sank to return to her crystalline home and laid the precious offerings at the feet of the gods. These, also inebriated by the sweet song, gathered and mixed with divine arts all the ingredients, transforming them into the first pastiera that surpassed in sweetness the song of the same mermaid.
In Naples, the pastiera is the dessert of awakening, spring, resurrection and, therefore, Easter.
The grating of shortcrust pastry on the neapolitan pastiera must be made with 3 parallel stripes that cross perpendicularly 4 other strips, forming squares (and not rhombuses). The reason is very precise: this scheme represents the plan of the historic center of Naples, or the ancient Neapolis.
The historic center of Naples is crossed by 3 ancient streets, parallel to the coast, dating back to the late sixth century BC.C. They were built in Greek times, so they should be called “plateiai”, but they are referred to as “decumani“, a term that dates back to Roman times:
✅ Decumano superiore: via della Sapienza, via dell’Anticaglia, via Santi Apostoli
✅ Decumano maggiore: via dei Tribunali
✅ Decumano inferiore (Spaccanapoli): via Benedetto Croce, via S. Biagio dei Librai, via Vicaria Vecchia, via Forcella
Surely you all know it but I want to remind you again: Partenope is Naples.