The Rice Cake or “Adornments Cake” is a typical local dessert.

This fresh spoon cake is perfect for every period of the year but its origin is bound to a holiday period, specifically to the parish city feast of the “Addobbi” (adornments), in coincidence with Corpus Domini celebrations.

On this occasion the city was decorated with colorful ornaments and this cake was sold down on the streets so that all believers could buy it as a gift to all friends and relatives.
The tradition is now lost but still the recipe of this perfumed and soft cake remains the same.

Each family has a different tradition for the preparation of this cake and it is therefore difficult to find one unique recipe. Some might use more liquor, others might use more almonds but the cake is always delicious and a bite of  this sweet dessert is highly recommended when visiting Bologna!


The rice cake is probably one of the most ancient cakes in the local culinary tradition. Its roots are dated back to the end of 17th century, in coincidence to the famous religious “Adornments holiday”, when colorful ornaments were hung on windows and balconies as a sign of celebration.

During this holiday the image of Corpus Domini was taken in procession, accompanied by the local band and the parishioners choirs. Houses were decorated with flowers and cloths and neighbours used to come and visit, offering this special typical rice cake.

The diffusion of rice-based cakes in the Emilia Romagna region is bound to the presence of “mondine”, young girls coming from farm families, especially from the Appennino region. After the Second World War these girls were obliged to work for the seasonal harvest in the rice fields all around northern Italy. It was an exhausting job: they had to work for 8-9 hours a day, with their back bowed and their legs plunged into water.

Their wage also included about 1 kg of rice for each day of work so that, at the end of the season, they usually had collected almost 40 kg of rice. This is the reason why rice recipes spread so quickly in the Bologna area.

Nowadays, the cake is very typical of every holiday period, but especially bound to religious holidays, like the patron saint celebrations.

The recipe of this rice cake was solemnly declared by the Bologna Bentivoglio delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina and deposited with notarial deed on the 14th of December 2005 at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna, in Palazzo della Mercanzia.