I have had the pleasure of spending Easter in Rome a number of times. The city is very crowded with tourists and often school children. “La Settimana Santa” or the Holy Week is considered a perfect time to visit the Eternal City. Many hope to see the Pope who is in residence and gives Mass in St. Peter’s square on Easter morning.
Romans skip their cornetti or brioche as they are known in other parts of Italy and have a big breakfast with eggs and salami. I once had one that was billed as an Easter donut or Ciambella that was filled with eggs and salami. The only problem was that we were on a sailboat going around the island of Elba and the weather wasn’t great so that kind of a heavy breakfast on Easter was hard for me but hey who am I to argue with tradition.
After breakfast, when in Rome, many do try to go see the Pope. One year I did that as well. The crowd was immense and the experience was intense and moving, even to a non-Catholic such as myself.
When Romans sit down for their Easter lunch, as I did with friends at their home in Zagarolo, they will find Abbacchio at the table, or lamb. Here’s a recipe for how it is made. You will also find Carciofi alla Romana. I love Artichokes and this is the season you will find them in Italian markets all over the country. Here is a recipe for making Carciofi alla Romana. Lots of other items may be part of the meal but these two are key components as is the Colomba di Pasqua for dessert.
While this is happening, what are people drinking? I’ve found that Romans tend to have a mix of wines at the meal. Perhaps a red wine with the lamb. It could be Cesanese del Piglio which is a local grape from Lazio. I first discovered this grape variety in 2005 when I was doing a series of interviews with winemakers throughout Italy for a project. Cesanese del Piglio is made from a minimum of 90% Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese is not that widely seen on wine list menus and I think it is a real shame. It produces wines that are hearty and ruby red in color. It also brings spice and supple tannins to the table and blends well with other grape varieties.
For dessert, Romans have a few fun local choices including Malvasia del Lazio which I wrote about in February as part of my Italian indigenous grape variety series. Or perhaps Cannellino from Frascati made with Malvasia and Trebbiano.
Easter Monday is a holiday in Italy, Pasquetta. Everyone is generally having a big lunch somewhere “fuori porta” or out of town. I have many fond memories of Easter in Italy and Pasquetta. It’s a lovely way to begin the Spring season.
Tomorrow I will write about a great Cesanese tasting I did last Vinitaly. Happy Easter.