Celebrating Easter in Venice

My special itinerary for you if you want to witness Easter in Venice. Easter seems to be low-profile at first sight, you need to put it into context to understand how Easter is just one pearl in a string of spring feasts in the Lagoon.

The series of spring feasts in Venice start with the Venetian New Year (the Republic celebrated on 1 March) followed by the birthday of the city of Venice (1595 years old on 25 March 2016).

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Lush grass in spring in Venice

Easter is next and then comes the last feast taken over from the traditions of the Serenissima, La Festa della Sensa. Have I mentioned all the of fiere, sagre and regate  taking place now in Venice and the Lagoon ?

There are a few particularities in the way Easter is celebrated in Venice. Venetians internalized Byzantine culture from the very beginning of her existence. It’s much more than just traces in the way we cook. Levantine culture has been instilled in thought, religion, architecture, clothing, trading for centuries. From approx 400 AD and earlier, government officials from Byzantium lived on the Rivo Alto islands. Venice was their westernmost province for 900 years.

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Knowing that brings us to the six ingredients that make up a traditional Venetian Easter Feast. Their origins have been long forgotten, there may be legends attached, but we still enjoy Easter traditions !

#1 Pasta fresca fatta di uova The ancient symbol for a fresh new start is the egg. It means you get many eggs in Venice for Easter Sunday !! Could be tagliatelle and lasagne – fresh pasta made from eggs, assuming a bright yellow glow.

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#2  Focaccia Easter Bread comes under the form of lamb, rabbit or sun. Again, the sun as a round form recalls the symbol of the egg.

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Easter breads seen on Calle Crosera near Campo della Bragora.

#3 Focaccia Sweet Easter Bread That’s the sweet variant of focaccia eaten in Venice instead of or in addition to the all-Italian colomba pasquale.

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Easter Focaccia, Pasticceria Dal Mas

I love the sweet focacce made by Pasticceria Dal Mas located  near the railway station.

#4 Colomba Pasquale Of course we love colomba pasquale. You get the traditional Italian Easter cake in all pastry stores while there are also flat colombe  covered with pastel-tinged frosting. I saw these treats on Campo San Luca at Pasticceria Marchini Time.

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Colombe pasquali – Pasticceria Marchini Time

#5 Spring delights  While on Easter Friday Venetians eat baccalà, Easter Sunday Lunch looks really green. Fresh spring herbs, salad and artichokes, sea food (vongole, cozze …) and fresh pasta. Below you can see the egg-colored plate of tagliatelle served at Ristorante Antico Calice. They also offer a wonderful spring greens buffet.

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Home-made spring egg pasta with vongole and Lagoon herbs – ristorante Antico Calice, near Rialto

#6 Spring greens Spinach, aglio orsino – wild garlic as soon as it is available, and it usually is for Easter in April :-). Young parsley and salicornia herbs. Bietine, spring flower salad … Cross the Rialto Bridge, walk past the market and continue towards Vecio Fritoin. This is one of the three restaurants in Venice specializing in cooking with spring herbs. What about a dish made from salicornia  and spring blossoms like the one below ?

This is the magical atmosphere of a spring morning in Venice. By Easter, wisteria will be blossoming.

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Easter Monday (Pasquetta) is a public holiday dedicated to making an excursion (la scampagnata). In our case, it must be the Lagoon. When I was a child we used to go to the island of Torcello, my father’s favorite island. He is an architect with a keen interest in archeology, gardens and the early history of Venice.

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Posted by

Iris Loredana: Culinary historian, food and lifestyle blogger. Author of the Blogs "La Venessiana" (Venice) and "From My Italian Home" (coming soon). My family is from Venice and Amalfi and I'm currently based in Venice and Vienna. I love traveling, cooking and gardening - all the things I'm writing about in my blogs !!

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