In Italy, the expression "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi" is frequently heard ("Christmas with your family, Easter with your own choice of friends"). Oftentimes, this implies sitting down to a dinner that starts with minestra di Pasqua, the traditional beginning of the Neapolitan Easter meal.
Other classic Easter recipes include carciofi fritti (fried artichokes), a main course of either capretto o agnellino al forno (roasted goat or baby lamb) or capretto cacio e uova (kid stewed with cheese, peas, and eggs), and carciofi e patate soffritti, a delicious vegetable side dish of sautéed artichokes with baby potatoes.
A holiday meal in Italy would not be complete without a traditional dessert, and during Easter there are several. Italian children finish their dinner with a rich bread shaped like a crown and studded with colored Easter egg candies. La pastiera Napoletana, the classic Neapolitan grain pie, is a centuries–old dish with innumerable versions, each made according to a closely guarded family recipe. Another treat is the Colomba cake, a sweet, eggy, yeasted bread (like panettone plus candied orange peel, minus the raisins, and topped with sugared and sliced almonds) shaped in one of the most recognizable symbols of Easter, the dove. The Colomba cake takes on this form precisely because la colomba in Italian means dove, the symbol of peace and an appropriate finish to Easter dinner.
Uova di Pasqua
Although Italians do not decorate hard–boiled eggs nor have chocolate bunnies or pastel marshmallow chicks, the biggest Easter displays in bars, pastry shops, supermarkets, and especially at chocolatiers are brightly wrapped uova di Pasqua—chocolate Easter eggs—in sizes that range from 10 grams (1/3 ounce) to 8 kilos (nearly 18 pounds). Most of them are made of milk chocolate in a mid–range, 10–ounce size by industrial chocolate makers.
Some producers distinguish between their chocolate eggs for children (sales numbers are a closely guarded secret, but the market for these standard quality eggs is said to be shrinking with Italy's birthrate) and expensive "adult" versions. All except the tiniest eggs contain a surprise. Grown–ups often find their eggs contain little silver picture frames or gold–dipped costume jewelry. The very best eggs are handmade by artisans of chocolate, who offer the service of inserting a surprise supplied by the purchaser. Car keys, engagement rings, and watches are some of the high–end gifts that have been tucked into Italian chocolate eggs in Italy.
Italian Easter Vocabulary List
Click to hear the highlighted word spoken by a native speaker.