Easter in Italy
Easter Sunday is a big deal in Italy, but it doesn’t start there. Holy Week begins the Sunday before, on Palm Sunday, and there are religious services and processions throughout the week leading up to Easter. Some of the most well-known are the Good Friday processions – including the “Stations of the Cross” in Rome, led by the pope; one in the Sicilian town of Enna, with thousands of white-hooded friars carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary; and the oldest religious procession in Italy in the Abruzzo town of Chieti, also with thousands of hooded brothers and followed by a marching orchestra and choir performing the “Miserere.”
Easter – which is Pasqua in Italian, pronounced PAHSkwah – is marked by services in churches throughout the country, as well as a big meal enjoyed at home with family. Traditional dishes eaten at Easter include artichokes, roast lamb, and a sweet holiday bread called “Colomba,” which means “dove” in Italian (it’s supposed to be the shape of a flying dove).
There is no Easter Bunny in Italy, but there is chocolate, particularly in the form of large chocolate eggs that have prizes hidden inside.
Easter in the Vatican is celebrated with a huge mass in St. Peter’s Square in the morning (rain or shine!), followed by the Pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” speech at noon.
In Italy, Valentine’s Day is celebrated, but it’s by no means a national holiday, and it’s not celebrated in the same way as the holiday is festeggiato (celebrated) in the United States and many other countries. In Italy, Valentine’s Day is less commercialized, but did you know that the holiday has its roots in Italy?
A Brief History of Valentine’s Day in Italy
February 14th is the day that commemorates the martyred Christian Saint Valentine (San Valentino) from Terni (near Rome), Italy. Legend has it that bishop Valentine secretly married lovers, even though marriage was banned by the current Roman emperor. He was martyred on February 14th by the Roman Emperor Claudius II.
Later, in 496, the Pope named the 14th of February the Festa di San Valentino (Feast Day of Saint Valentine) to commemorate Valentino and replace a pagan fertility festival from ancient Roman times. It’s also been said that February 14th was chosen because it was the day the Roman goddess of women and marriage – Juno – was traditionally celebrated.
What is Valentine’s Day Called in Italy?
Valentine’s Day in Italy is La Festa di San Valentino (Saint Valentine’s Day) or La Festa degli Innamorati (The Lovers’ Holiday). To wish someone a Happy Valentine’s Day, you can tell them Buon San Valentino (Happy Valentine’s Day) or Buona Festa degli Innamorati (Happy Lovers’ Holiday)!
Wine Dinners & Chef's Tables
A wine dinner is matched by the food and wine characteristics, while a chef’s table dinner is selected based on the chef’s desire to try unique concepts or follow the theme.
The Chef's Table began in the 1800s. What started as chefs entertaining family and friends in their kitchen as they cooked became a luxury for restaurant patrons. The chef’s table went from a VIP-based event to something that anyone could experience.
Today, the parameters of chef’s tables and the number of courses and guests served at each one can vary from venue to venue, and guests are not notified of the meal that they will eat until the plate appears before them. Educating members about the meal on their plate and how to capitalize on its flavor is the only element that bonds wine dinners and chef’s tables.
We promise both are delicious!
As the Roman empire crumbled, the fig’s popularity didn’t.
The delicious fruit is still sought after in modern-day Italy. In fact, so entrenched it is in the Italian language that ‘Un fico secco’ (a dried fig) originated many sayings and proverbs:
“non capire un fico secco” (not being able to understand anything)
“non vale un fico secco” (it’s worth nothing)
“non c’entra un fico secco” (it’s not pertinent to the question at hand).
Its other variation, “figo” is slang for cool.
“Mica pizza e fichi” is another way of saying that the thing you’re referring to has great value, in comparison to pizza and figs which were readily available in ancient times.
“Fare le nozze con i fichi secchi” (having a wedding where only dried figs are served) it’s a proverb that means wanting to do something without the proper means.
Rome is over 2,000 years old
Rome was founded in 753 BC and the Roman Empire was born in 27 BC. The Empire ruled Europe and parts of North Africa right up until 395 AD. After the fall of the Empire, Italy divided into separate states until 1861.
Italy's national day is called Festa della Repubblica and it's celebrated each year on 2 June.
Italy's flag is green, white and red
Italy's flag represents hope, faith and charity. Green is hope, white denotes faith and red is the colour of charity. Inspired by the French flag, it's often called Il Tricolore.
Tricolore Day in Italy is 7 January. And it's celebrated on Reggio Emilia, about 25km northwest of Modena, at the very spot where the flag was first adopted in 1797.
Easter eggs in Turin. Creative commons photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar
Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Creative commons photo by Jon Connell