In Italy, Easter Day -like Christmas Day- is usually spent with family, relatives and friends, even though there are many people who take advantage of this holiday to go for a weekend break. However, whether people are at home or away, they like spending the best part of Easter Day sitting around a table, drinking good Italian wine and eating traditional Italian dishes.
At my house we generally start Easter Lunch with an antipasto of crostini, raw ham and salami, pickled vegetables and boiled blessed eggs. Then we will eat tortellini in chicken stock and after that, the lamb. It’s not Easter if you don’t eat lamb! It can be roasted (accompanied by roast potatoes or fresh green salad) or pan fried (my grandma usually cooks lamb chops that way and serves them with spinach). To finish, there is a typical Italian Easter cake called the ”Colomba ”, which name comes from the white dove, symbol of peace and harmony. Traditional Colomba is similar to our Christmas “Panettone”, decorated with raisins and candied fruit, but there are countless variants of this Easter cake, made with cream and chocolate or entirely covered with almonds.
Children look forward to Easter day just to receive their Easter egg: a big egg made of milk chocolate with a special surprise inside for them (my favourite was the Kinder one).
When I was a toddler I opened my eggs to discover their surprises, then immediately went into my room to play with my new toys and leave the chocolate eggs on the table, untouched. So needless to say my parents and especially my sister took advantage of the situation to devour the eggs within a very few seconds!!!!
Here in Florence, Easter is celebrated with the Scoppio del Carro, explosion of the cart. A huge, decorated wagon is dragged through Florence by white oxen until it reaches Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in the historic centre. Following mass, the Archbishop sends a dove-shaped rocket into the cart, igniting the fireworks held in the cart. This spectacular display is followed by a parade in medieval costumes.
“Pasquetta” is the day after Easter. Traditionally I spend this day with my family, going out for a picnic or for a day trip. Usually we leave early in the morning, preparing sandwiches at home. Where we go? Personally, I prefer the beach, at San Vincenzo or Viareggio, otherwise a peaceful place where we can spend a day in total relaxation, breathing fresh air, playing football or volleyball with friends, like the big lawn in Vallombrosa.
The key words for the Italian Easter holidays are definitely Peace and Relaxation.