Easter, called Pasqua in Italian, is not only one of the biggest holidays in Italy, but it’s also the official launch of the season on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a wonderful time to travel on the Amalfi Coast, since you get to enjoy the arrival of spring in Italy and experience for yourself some of the cultural, religious, and culinary traditions of Pasqua. Let us share with you some of the highlights of Easter on the Amalfi Coast!
Good Friday and Via Crucis Processions
One of the most distinctive aspects of Easter for many travelers are the religious processions that take place in the week leading up to Easter and especially on Good Friday. The main procession is called the Via Crucis, which is a solemn procession following the stations of the cross. It takes place in most towns along the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento on Good Friday, except in Ravello where it usually happens on Palm Sunday – the week before Easter. In Amalfi, this incredibly moving procession takes place after dark. The lights in the town’s main square are turned off as the candle-lit procession exits the Duomo of Amalfi. Many churches have a statue the shows Jesus on a bed after having been taken down from the cross, which is carried in this procession. Behind this is carried a statue of Maria Addolorata, Our Lady of Sorrows. The two statues that are used in Amalfi’s procession are on display throughout the year in the nave of the church. If you are traveling on the Amalfi Coast for Easter, try not to miss seeing the Via Crucis procession as it’s a remarkable experience!
After Easter Sunday mass, it’s time for lunch! This is usually quite a rich meal, with each course featuring the types of foods traditionally avoided during Lent. While the menu varies some from family to family, there are some traditional dishes that show up on most tables. Often lunch starts off with an antipasto of ricotta salata, mozzarella and provola cheeses along with slices of soppressata, a cured salami. This is usually served along with hard boiled eggs cut in half and casatiello, a special type of savory bread made at Easter with lard, salami, cheese, and often baked with eggs on top. And that’s just the antipasto!
Next comes a heathy dose of vegetables in the form of minestra maritata, a soup made with seasonal leafy green veggies and meat. Lots of meat. It’s absolutely delicious! After this comes the second course, which is traditionally lamb. However, some families replace the lamb with a roast or different type of second course. At this point, most people are already thinking if they’ve saved room for dessert. I hope you did!
If you managed to save room after the big Easter lunch, it’s time for the desserts to arrive. One of the most classic in the Amalfi Coast area is the Neapolitan pastiera. (We shared our favorite recipe here!) It just wouldn’t be Pasqua without a pastiera! Another traditional and colorful dessert called the casatiello often graces the table. This liquor infused cake is covered with white icing, sprinkles, meringue, candy, and sometimes even a lamb crafted from marzipan.
The traditional Columba di Pasqua is popular throughout Italy, and is a classic dessert after the Easter lunch. Similar to panettone served at Christmas, this bread includes candied citrus peel and is topped with almonds and pearl sugar. What makes it so distinctive for Easter is that it is shaped like a dove since colomba means dove in Italian.
Now you’re ready for the finishing touch on every Easter lunch. Chocolate eggs! And we’re not talking the teeny tiny little chocolate eggs you find in America. No. When it comes to chocolate Easter eggs in Italy, it’s definitely “go big or go home.” These giant chocolate eggs are hollow and when cracked open reveal a surprise inside. It’s a lot of fun opening the giant eggs around the table to see what is inside!
In Italy Easter doesn’t end on Sunday, but instead extends through the following day, which is called Pasquetta, or Little Easter. What do you do after such a big meal the previous day? Take a walk! Pasquetta is a day traditionally spent outdoors celebrating the spring weather with family and friends. But, of course, food is involved, too! That’s where leftovers from Sunday lunch come in handy. Leftover hardboiled eggs, soppressata, the rich casatiello bread, or perhaps a frittata are popular. With so many beautiful hiking spots, the Amalfi Coast is an incredible spot for enjoying Pasquetta.
From all of us Exclusive Cruises, we wish you a very happy Easter celebration!