In Italy, Pasqua is a very important feast and one of the biggest holidays in the Italian calendar. A visit to any part of Italy during this period is an event not to be missed with processions, religious rituals, celebrations and of course wonderful food.
I have always enjoyed this time of year – warmer weather, longer days, the first flowers, nature waking up after the long winter sleep and life in my home village on the Amalfi coast was busy and active once more.
The Easter ritual begins with Palm Sunday, marking the start of what is known as Holy Week, when olive branches are blessed in church. I remember as a child the main square would be littered with branches and my friends and I would collect them and see who could pick up the most.
During Holy Week, the shops would suddenly become busy; the greengrocer came alive with colour as they filled with the season’s new produce, the butcher, after the quiet period of Lent when meat was forbidden, was happily hanging up baby lamb and goat, and chickens were on display. Pastry shops, too, would decorate their windows with huge chocolate eggs and casatielli – round pastries decorated with a cross and sugared baby lambs. As children, we enjoyed looking into the windows and counted the days until Easter Sunday when we could indulge in these sweet treats.