Celebrating La Pasqua... with Pizza!

  • How Italians Celebrate Easter

Celebrating La Pasqua... with Pizza!

Everyone knows that Italy is famous for its excellent cuisine, and its Easter feasts are no different.

Families meet on Easter Sunday for meals created with ingredients like artichokes, asparagus, and lamb, and finish with the traditional Easter cake, Colomba. Each region has a unique version of the Easter menu, along with other traditions that  mark the celebrations. Truth be told, pizza isn't necessarily at the forefront of these. Our view at Basilico is, who cares! If pizza makes everything better, surely it will make Easter more delicious too? Here are some of Italy's Easter traditions and how you can pay homage to them through a delicious pizza feast.

Florence – The morning of Easter Sunday in Florence is marked by the Scoppio del Carro, or the Explosion of the Cart, a 350 year old tradition. The ritual involves a cart being led by a procession of musicians to the Duomo. The cart is filled with fireworks which are set off when the Archbishop lights a dove-shaped rocket, symbolising the Holy Spirit, causing it to fly down a wire and into the cart. Following the ceremony is a grand lunch that consists of several courses. Baskets filled with canapés and pastries begin the feast, followed by snacks of eggs, asparagus, and parmesan. A dish of fettuccine or lasagne follows, and a main consisting of lamb. If you'd like to experience a little of these flavours, why not try our antipasti? A selection of cured meats, artichoke hearts and Italian cheeses perfectly matches the tastes of Florentine starters.

Panicale - One of the stranger traditions comes from Panicale in Umbria. Every Easter Monday, known in Italy as Pasquetta (Little Easter), the people of this village come together for a competition of cheese rolling called Ruzzolone. This tradition dates back at least to Etruscan times, though the exact origins are unknown. The gioccatori (players) roll a wheel of cheese around a course in the streets. The winning team is the one who rolls it the furthest, and with the fewest throws, and is rewarded with the cheese as a prize. If the cheese breaks before the end of the course, everyone gets a piece to eat. Pay tribute to this quirky competition with our Quattro Formaggi pizza, which celebrates cheese just as much as Panicale does.

Abruzzo - In a ceremony that has been taking place since the 11th century, Abruzzo focusses on the religious aspect of Easter with a re-enactment of La Madonna che Scappa (the Running Madonna). Organised by the Santa Maria di Loreto Brotherhood, a procession enters the piazza led by a band and people carrying statues and lamps. A statue of Jesus is placed down at the front. A statue of Mary in mourning clothes is then brought out. When she sees her reborn son, the mourning clothes are removed to reveal a green dress, and twelve doves are released. The men carrying her run towards the statue of Jesus so that Mary can embrace her son. Alongside this age-old custom, the people of Abruzzo also celebrate the day with the traditional dish of agnello cacio e ovo, lamb in a lemon, egg and cheese sauce, and scrippelle 'mbusse crepes filled with artichoke slices, hard boiled eggs, and parmesan. You can recreate the flavours of these crepes by taking our Margherita and customising it with free-range egg, artichoke, and grated parmesan.

Sicily - In the small town of Prizzi in Sicily the residents use Palm Sunday to stage a re-enactment of the war between good and bad. In the Abballu di li Diavoli (Dance of the Devils) which has origins in medieval times, a few villagers dress up in red, as devils, while another in yellow symbolises death. They dance through the streets attempting to prevent effigies of Mary and Jesus from reuniting before ultimately being defeated by good. The theatricals last the whole day, and food is brought out throughout. Sicilian's have a range of special Easter dishes, including anelletti,a baked pasta dish, and sacce, filled Easter focaccia. Traditionally filled with lamb, Sicilians also have a version with aubergine and tomato. You can replicate this with our Vegetarian pizza, generously topped with fresh tomatoes and slices of roasted aubergine.

Unfortunately here at Basilico we don't offer the delicious Colomba, but why not try our tiramisu, made with panettone instead, to channel a little Italian into your dessert too?

pick of the month