Festa della Donna

Contributing Editor Antonella Bonesse shares the story behind Italy's holiday to celebrate women.

Ladies, If you’re lucky enough to be traveling through Italy this month, prepare to be praised on March 8th

International Women’s Day is celebrated in various ways in various countries around the world (notably, that list does not include the US). And in Italy, “Festa della Donna” is most apparently recognized by way of the mimosa – the flower, not the drink…

I anticipate with great pleasure the days leading up to the Festa della Donna each year: In every town you will be charmed walking down the tiny picturesque streets, where all the sidewalk flower vendors sell bunches and bunches of bright yellow mimosa bouquets. Soon enough, you’ll begin to see people walking about with newly purchased mimosa sprigs, on their way to deliver these special flowers to a special woman in their lives.

And it’s not just about men giving flowers to women, either. Women give mimosas to their mothers, sisters, friends, and other women who are important to them (growing up in the little village of Melissa, Calabria, I remember being lucky to have neighbors who had their own mimosa trees and were kind enough to share with us kids every year so we could gift our loved ones).

This holiday is tied to important historical accomplishments: After years of struggle and demonstrations by women workers forced to work in poor conditions and low wages, several countries decided to establish this festival in honor of the political gains achieved after many sacrifices and much violence.

So not only is March 8th a day to praise women with mimosa flowers, it is a day to recognize and reflect on all the great accomplishments of women in general. But mostly, in Italy, it is a celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards all women for our economic, political, and social achievements.

Happy Women’s Day,


Antonella Bonesse is a chef and author of the cookbook Cucina per Te.

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