The 7-day period before Easter is called Settimana Santa (Holy Week), which includes Holy Thursday (commemorating the Last Supper) and Good Friday (observing the crucifixion and death of Jesus). Pasqua is a national holiday in Italy, along with Pasquetta (Easter Monday), one of my personal favorite holidays to make the Easter weekend just that much better.
Many communities throughout the country celebrate with religious processions and often decorate churches and public squares with olive branches and palm fronds.
The largest and most popular Easter celebrations take place in Rome. On Good Friday (Venerdi Santo), millions of Pilgrims flock to the Eternal City to witness the Pope’s commemoration of the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis) beginning at Palatine Hill and ending near the Coliseum. After the solemn procession, Pope Francis will offer a special Easter blessing.
Traditional Foods of Pasqua
Good Thursday is the official end of the deprivation of Lent so it stands to reason that food would play an important role in
Pasqua activities. On Easter Sunday, Umbrian families gather around the table to enjoy regional specialties starting with a breakfast of Pizza di Pasqua
(a savory or sweet bread) or La Colomba
(a dove-shaped cake made with almonds, sugar and egg whites). Lunch commonly starts with fresh fava beans and pecorino cheese and then followed by roasted lamb and other meats, fresh seasonal spring vegetables and lots and lots of chocolate!
And Speaking of Chocolate....
In Italy, children don’t wait for the Easter Bunny, but instead delight in receiving over-sized, hollow chocolate Easter eggs wrapped in foil or colored paper? Broken open on Easter morning, a surprise is found inside - a stuffed animal, a game or a toy!
Recently, Jennifer McIlvaine of Life...Italian Style
took a group of guests on a private tour of an artigianal confectionary factory not far from our Villa in Sismano. Beginning 6 weeks before Easter, the company painstakingly handcrafts 2,500-3,000 chocolate Easter eggs. The process starts by filling the egg molds with liquid chocolate then rolling them by hand to coat the inside of the mold. They’re refrigerated for a few minutes to solidify and dry the chocolate and then a “prize” (little toy, necklace or even small appliances like a hairdryer or travel iron) is placed inside. Note: Customers can customize the egg with their own prize. The Easter eggs are finally closed and sealed, decorated and then wrapped by hand with bright, colorful paper! Yummy and beautiful too!