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Easter in Italy - 10 Traditional Foods and Must Eat Dishes for the Holiday

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Like most holidays in Italy, Easter (or Pasqua) revolves around family, friends…and food.

To celebrate an Italian Easter properly, here is a list of 10 things you must have to eat....

  1. Agnello – any type of lamb will do in Italy. But when in Rome, abbacchio a scottadito, grilled baby lamb ribs (translates to burnt finger) or Abbacchio alla Romana (baby lamb cooked in wine, rosemary, and garlic) are a must. Both dishes are usually accompanied by a vegetable. Again if we’re in Rome this is usually the artichoke, a veggie typical of the region. But only if Easter falls in the month of March…otherwise they will be out of season!

  2. Salami – in Rome, Corallina is the most typical (even though it’s technically from Umbria)

  3. Eggs - of any kind and usually eaten in the morning for breakfast. Boiled egg or the very Italian frittata- you choose!

  4. Torta Pasqualina – a savory cake made with puff pastry and filled with spinach, ricotta, and egg, and sometimes nutmeg

  5. Torta al formaggio - another salty pie sometimes referred to Pizza di Pasqua is just that – cheese! Usually of the pecorino and parmigiano kind

  6. Casatiello Napoletano Easter Bread– if you’re in the Napoli-Campagna region (or wishing you were) this rustic cake is stuffed with cheese, pancetta, salami, and whole eggs.

  7. Tagliere di affettati misti - a selection of salame e formaggi. In Rome

  8. Chocolate eggs - though this is somewhat universal, the chocolate Easter eggs in Italy tend to be massive and elaborate, ranging from customized creations at a dessert shop to the more affordable store bought ones like the Kinder Sorpresa, that has a little surprise toy inside for the kiddies.

  9. Colomba di Pasqua – the Easter edition of the Christmas Panettone, the main difference is that the Pasqua Colomba is shaped like a dove as a symbol of peace

  10. Pastiera Napoletana or Napolitana (because Rome is so close to Naples) is the typical Easter cake made of short crust pastry filled with ricotta cheese, eggs and cooked wheat berries and orange

And don't forget the homemade pasta.

Obviously each of these dishes are absolutely delicious but there's also a significance behind each food that is eaten for the holy holiday. For example, the lamb symbolizes life while the eggs symbolize the rebirth of Christ - with a sweet version for each.

While Pasqua is usually spent during lunch (spilling into to dinnertime) with family, the day after – Pasquetta (“little Easter” or in the states known as Easter Monday) is reserved for friends and usually celebrated with a picnic get together somewhere outdoors.

So…what to do if you can’t make any of these things at home or from scratch? Or if you aren’t shacked up with someone who can during this lockdown? Order them online from these local places here in Rome (but make sure you place your order fast. Easter is nearly one week away!):

An "Easter Box" – As a result of Covid and all of the restrictions and lockdowns, there are many amazing restaurants offering their food with a special menu for the holidays. One Box Pranzo di Pasqua that is particularly incredible is the offering from Contro Bistrot - for 35 euro you get a full-course meal comprised of lasagna, agnolotti di brasato, agnello arrosto and baked potatoes.

But check your favorite local restaurant to see what they are doing. You’ll be eating a great home-cooked meal AND helping to support the restaurants and local businesses during these difficult times.

And for vino? Here are a few great local enotecas in Rome (by neighborhood) to stock up on wine:

Buon appetito and Buona Pasqua a tutti!

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