Buona Pasqua! Everything You Need To Know About Italy's Easter

While you're not likely to see an oversized bunny or children scouring the landscape for eggs, Easter for Italians is a big deal. Second only to Christmas, Italians refer warmly to Easter with the saying "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi," which translates to "Christmas with family, Easter with whoever you like."

Though it may be hard for some Americans to understand the importance of Easter for Italians, the upcoming holiday gives us a unique opportunity to further explore Easter the Italian way- complete with its history and culinary traditions. 

The History 

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, and can, therefore, vary from March 22nd to April 25th. The Christian holiday, as you may know, celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death. 

The days leading up to Easter in Italy include solemn processions and masses, 'Pasqua,' is a joyful celebration filled with rituals and traditions. However, La Pasquetta, the Monday after Easter Sunday, is also a public holiday throughout Italy. If you ask any Italian (or American-Italian) what their best memory as a child is, they will likely talk about Easter Monday. Pasquetta or 'little Easter' is a time when many families in Italy will head to the country, the beach- typically any spot they deem fit for a traditional picnic complete with salsiccia, artichokes, and more. 

Just what would Easter or Easter Monday be without a hearty variety of Italian treats? Keep reading to discover some traditional foods surrounding this holiday. 

The Food 

It's no secret that Italians love to celebrate holidays with food- and Easter is no exception. Luckily, since Easter is the end of the Lenten season, which requires sacrifice and reserve, food plays a big part in the celebrations. 

The Sweets 

Traditional Easter lunch and dinner foods across Italy may include lamb, goat, and artichokes. The food varies from region to region. But, if you're looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth, these treats might just do the trick.... and add an Italian flare to your Easter celebration this year! 

Italian Easter Chocolate Eggs

Chocolate Eggs 

Leading up to Easter, these delightful chocolate eggs are seen all over Italy. They are made carefully with Italy's best chocolate and wrapped in beautiful, colorful paper. Crack open their shells to reveal a delicious surprise! 

Cassata Cake


Thought to stem from the Arabic word 'quas'at,' meaning bowl, this cake was later adopted by 16th-century nuns who, famous for their pastry skills, transformed it into a Sicilian staple. Today, you can find this delicious Sicilian cake dressed in bakery windows with candied fruit and topped with sweet ricotta or fondant. 

The Bread 

Of course we wouldn't have an Italian celebration without the carbs- but it's more than just a tasty addition. Italian Easter Bread is rich with symbolism with some versions baked in the shape of a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, while three pieces of dough braided together represent the three elements of the Holy Trinity. 

Depending on the region, however, there are a variety of other options that are shaped or decorated in ways that represent Easter's story. 

Crescia Al Formaggio 

To start off the day, for example, is the cheese-enriched Italian bread, Crescia al Formaggio. This bread is baked in a tall narrow pan that forces the bread to rise in a dramatic dome shape. Traditionally eaten on Easter morning for breakfast or lunch, it's typically served with Italian sausage or salami, boiled eggs and a glass of red wine. 

Colomba Cake

Colomba di Pasqua

While Italy offers many traditional Easter breads, the best-known by far is the Colomba. Similar in taste to the renowned panettone, this dove-shaped loaf, which is also meant to symbolize hope, is a native of northern Italy, but available everywhere at Easter time. Colomba is made with sweet candied oranges and Italian honey, perfect as a gift or a centerpiece for the Easter table. You can purchase your Colomba di Pasqua this year and have it delivered straight to your door or Easter celebration from DITALIA. 

Pupa Cu L'ova Sicilian Easter Cookie

Pupa Cu L'ova 

In Sicily, you can find smaller breads or cookies known as 'Pupa cu L'ova'- a traditional treat that is carefully made and prepared in the days leading up to Easter. These traditional treats are prepared uniquely by each region. With the cherished, colored hard boiled egg in the center, 'Pupa cu L'ova' (or Cuddura) is always beautifully prepared and an exciting element to the celebration. 

Discover Italian Easter Treats Available At DITALIA Fine Italian Imports

Discover Italian Easter Treats

Share Your Traditions

How does your family celebrate Easter? Share your traditions and favorite Easter foods in the comments below. 

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Neil Noble August 28, 2023

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