Every time Easter (Pasqua) comes around, I remember the year my husband and I spent the holiday in Rome. And immediately I think of these Italian Easter things:
EASTER BREAD (il pane di Pasqua):
Italians color Easter eggs like we do. And then they bake them into sweetened brioche bread in a variety of shapes. There are some with a cross (like the one pictured below), but many of them are braided or resemble chickens. Il pane di Pasqua is also called pane pasquale, so if you know a Pasquale, you now know what his name means.
THE EASTER EGG (l’uovo di Pasqua):
Italians have another egg option—chocolate with a surprise inside. Understandably, kids prefer this version. And frankly, I do too. Just look at the one I’m holding, and you’ll understand why. Note: I was ecstatic to find this egg at Mandola’s restaurant here in Austin the other day. And no, I don’t know what the surprise is. I have to wait until Easter to find out.
THE EASTER CHICK (il pollo di Pasqua):
Italians don’t have an Easter bunny. Instead, they have an Easter chick. An Italian friend was the first to break this news to me, and my reaction was this: “A chick? That’s so weird.” To which he replied, “Actually, we think the rabbit is pretty darn strange.” After I thought about it for a moment, I had to agree with him. I mean, why DOES a rabbit bring us chicken eggs?
MASS WITH THE POPE (la messa con il papa)
Easter mass at The Vatican is a fascinating experience. The last time I went, Pope John Paul II delivered the service, and it was surprising for several reasons: 1) It wasn’t very crowded, 2) No one dressed up, and 3) A lot of locals were talking on their cell phones during the mass, while we foreigners were just in awe. My favorite part was the end when Pope John Paul II said “Happy Easter” in fifty-seven languages, and people in the crowd cheered when they heard their version. Such a thrill!
LITTLE EASTER (la Pasquetta)
Italians not only celebrate Easter (with a family dinner), they also mark the Monday after, i.e., “Little Easter.” Pasquetta, as it is known, is basically national picnic day. And Italians make it a day trip to the countryside, the mountains, or the beach. I don’t know about you, but I could really get behind that practice.
To celebrate Easter, I’d love to send you all Italian Easter eggs, but I can’t. They’re too expensive, and they almost always break in the mail (read the angry customer reviews on Amazon, and you’ll see). So, I’m giving out five copies of the PROSECCO PINK AUDIOBOOK to commenters on this post (I’ll pick your names at random). The book was narrated by the insanely talented Madeline Mrozek, so you’ll definitely want to give it a listen.