Photo Credits: Tarantino Vincenzo
It doesn’t matter where you are in Italy, the period around Easter is a time to celebrate and the celebrations often go on all week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Italians start to gear themselves up for all kinds of feasts, processions and family get-togethers and Puglia is certainly no exception, with all manner of celebrations and traditions being carried out during Easter week in Italy.
In Taranto, members of local fraternities take part in a procession on the Friday. Dressed in white robes and not wearing any shoes, whilst dancing and swaying these local men carry heavy statues of Christ through the city for hours on end. This really is a spectacle to behold!
Photo Credits: Zulu Bunsen
In San Marco in Lamis, in the province of Foggia, a rather odd tradition takes place at Easter. The locals take a tree trunk and split it in two, before filling it with sticks and setting it all on fire! This is to light the way for the procession of the Madonna Addolorata. Again, another celebration not to be missed!
A re-enactment of the passion of the Christ takes place on the Tuesday of Easter week in Molfetta, with scenes performed in different parts of the historic centre of the city, and there are lots of celebrations down in Gallipoli too. The city takes on a solemn and mystical atmosphere for the entire Easter period, with various processions taking place. On Good Friday, religious congregations carry statues around the city, and on the Saturday they lead a dramatic procession along the sea walls.
As well as the various events that take place in Puglia at Easter, the Pugliesi have some culinary Easter traditions too. As well as the usual abundance of chocolate eggs and colomba cakes, down in Puglia they like to make scarcella, a traditional sweet made with flour, sugar, oil, milk, lemon zest and sugar decorations. It can be made in a variety of shapes, but is often made in a braided ring.
Oh, and it also has a whole egg baked into it!
There’s a special Apulian Easter Sunday menu too. After the traditional antipasto of cured meats and a primo consisting of pasta and sauce, the southern Italians like to have their lamb served in a delicious frittata with vegetables. Then of course come the copious amounts of nuts, different types of fruit, desserts and chocolate. Phew- it’s easy to see why they are fond of their after lunch naps down here!
And when the Easter week is over, you’ve got something else to look forward to: Pasquetta. Literally translated as ‘little Easter’, the Monday after Easter day is traditionally spent with friends. Here in Puglia, the younger folk generally head to the woods or the forest for a picnic or a barbeque, or, if the weather permits it, they may even head to the beach for a bit of a knees up!
So this year, get hold of your friends and make like the Italians do- by planning your own exciting day out for ‘little Easter’!