Easter this year falls a little earlier over the first weekend in April. Happily even early springtime in Italy is a wonderful time for a trip to Italy. Visitors benefit from off-season rates for accommodation, tours, and travel while they have greater chances of enjoying nice weather.
In this predominantly Christian country where the majority of believers are Roman Catholic Christians, Easter is the biggest celebration of the church year. Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and follows the 40-day period of fasting and reflection called Lent as well as the very somber Good Friday Mass.
Naturally any celebration in Italy includes special foods and fine wine, and Easter is no exception. While North Americans and British families think of ham and potatoes or perhaps roast chicken or turkey for a special Easter feast, in Italy the traditional dinner is lamb or goat. After fasting and abstaining from meat and treats through Lent and on Good Friday, everyone is ready to enjoy rich foods, grilled meat, and good wine for Easter!
Since Italy is a country comprised of very distinct and unique regions, each with its own regional dishes and specialties, menus for the big celebratory dinner on Easter Sunday may vary. Often the meal will start with a first course of a savory egg and veggie pie called Torte Pasqualine. In some cities you may find fish or seafood like Insalata di Polpo (octopus salad), artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, and even different types of fancy breads on the menu.
Easter dolci (desserts) are of course always a highlight. You might enjoy Pastiera Napoletana in Naples, which is a rich ricotta cheese cake with candied fruit and the flavour of orange. Most Italian tables will be graced with a beautifully braided sweet bread inset with coloured hard cooked eggs called Pane di Pasqua. All the eggs of course are symbolic of the new life promised in the resurrection of Jesus.
Traditional gifts or special treats for Easter include of sweet Panetone bread, dove-shaped bread called Colomba, and hollow chocolate eggs that have little treasures inside to delight children and the young at heart.