Easter traditions in Italy

Easter (or Pasqua) is the major festival in the Catholic calendar. But aside from being a religious event, it is also a major part of culinary life across the country. Easter comes directly after Lent – six weeks of fasting. As they break the fast, it’s a time for Italian families to come together over feasts, and these meals tend to feature a mouth-watering collection of traditional foods. For most Italians, the Pasqua meal is when spring really begins.

Easter traditions in Italy

Discover a Dazzling Range of Easter Cuisine at Eataly

The food that Italians eat at Easter varies from region to region, but there is a set of common foods that are eaten almost everywhere. For example, lamb (agnello) is commonly consumed; artichokes are usually served as a side dish, and eggs feature heavily in every region as well. Most regions also have their own variation on Easter cakes or bread, usually with a fruity element. However, when you look in detail at Italian cuisine, you’ll discover incredible diversity. That’s the kind of variety that Eataly wants to share: dishes that you may not know about, but are absolutely divine.

Easter traditions in Italy

Italy’s Favourite Savoury Easter Dishes

Italy’s Easter cuisine can be divided into two main categories: savoury and sweet. Firstly, let’s look at the savoury side. Torta Pasqualina is a traditional favourite (the name literally means “Easter tart“), and is a delicious combination of spring greens (usually chard) and Italian cheese, mixed with eggs and marjoram. It was first cooked around 1400, and included 33 pastry layers. The inclusion of spring greens turned it into a symbol of new life and rebirth. To make the tart, plenty of greens are cooked with these ingredients, inside a flaky casing of filo pastry, before the tart is left to cool and served at room temperature.

Irresistible Easter Pies like Casatiello and Crescia

Then there’s Casatiello, a kind of ring-shaped Easter pie from Naples that is usually filled with meat and cheese. What marks out Casatiello are the whole eggs that are embedded and then cooked in the top of the pie, with a cross of pastry overlaying them. Another traditional savoury dish is Crescia, from Umbria. This cheesy bread is usually crammed with Pecorino Romano, which is diced and then stirred into the dough. The result is a soft bread that is filled with cheesy pockets, and is delicious with cured meats.

Easter traditions in Italy

Sweet Treats that Italians Adore Every Easter

Now for the sweets – the real highlight of the feast. One of the most popular cakes is Pastiera Napoletana, a wheat flour tart featuring ricotta, eggs, orange extract, candied fruit and vanilla. Legend has it that the first Pastiera was created by a Neapolitan nun, who wanted to add the delicate aroma of local oranges to traditional Easter cakes. When you visit Eataly’s bakery at Easter, you’ll also find huge platters of Colomba di Pasqua. Meaning “Easter dove“, this dessert has the consistency of Panettone, with flakes of candied fruit. It is carefully moulded into the shape of a dove, then finished with almonds and pearl sugar, creating an irresistible result.

Try Delicious Chocolate Uova di Pasqua

You will also find plenty of Easter eggs in Italian Pasticcerias, just like anywhere else. Eggs are a crucial part of Easter celebrations, symbolising fertility and hope as spring arrives. Italian “Uova di Pasqua” tend to have beautiful designs featuring marzipan, chocolate or icing. In other words, they are an utter delight, particularly for children. Italians also love to serve coloured boiled eggs – a legacy of the Lenten fast when, instead of wasting them, Italians used to boil their eggs and save them for the end of the fast.

If you want to try any of these dishes, Eataly serves up Easter specialities from all over Italy. Pay us a visit and join the Pasqua celebrations: you will find a wide selection of Easter eggs and cakes in our Dubai and Doha stores!