What is Easter like in Tuscany?

Easter in Tuscany is celebrated over a 5-day period which falls anywhere between 22 March and 25 April. Perhaps a more heartfelt holiday to an Italian than Christmas, they say “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi

Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you wish.

Having survived a long winter indoors, they can hardly wait to get together with this ‘whomever they wish’ and raise a joyful noise. On Thursday and Friday this noise is somewhat contained in church masses, re-enactments of religious events and evening processions. But with the coming of Easter there is colour and company and outdoor excursions, ‘gite fuori porta‘.

Venerdì Santo (Good Friday)

On Good Friday, Venerdì Santo, Tuscans are naturally at their most serious. Villagers view or partipate in costumed processions, accompanying Jesus as He carries his cross to Calvary. Such processions include Chianciano Terme’s 'Antica Giudeata', San Gimignano’s Procession of the Holy Cross and Pienza’s parade of hooded and barefoot Scalzi moving solemnly to the Cathedral.

scalzi-pienza
The hooded and barefoot penitents marching through Pienza for Good Friday are an eerie sight

My village, Casole d'Elsa, also puts on an Easter procession with nearly the whole village dressing up as either Judeans or Romans and inviting neighbouring villages to come and visit.

IMG_4978
Alan as Caiphas in the Easter Procession in Casole d'Elsa

Pasqua (Easter)

On Easter, Pasqua, celebrations breakout in almost all cities and villages. At daybreak Porto Santo Stefano carries the statue of Christ 3 times around the port as fishing boats lay on their sirens. In Florence’s Scoppio del Carro a cart loaded with fireworks and brought to the Cathedral by garlanded oxen is lighted by a dove-shaped rocket and explodes bringing Good Luck to all observers.

La-Colombina-scoppio-del-carro
Scoppio del Carro in Florence, when a cart loaded with fireworks explodes in front of Brunelleschi's Duomo

Pasquetta (Easter Monday)

On Easter Monday, Pasquetta or ‘Little Easter’, all families who can head outdoors – to picnic on traditional favourites, to take children to large Italian gardens to hunt eggs or learn to delight in Nature, or to head to one of the many museums open on Sunday and Monday. Villages set up markets to sell handmade goods or invent competitions, such as Panicale’s unusual Ruzzolone in which competitors roll whole cheeses around the village racetrack.

Easter Menus

Considered another good occasion to eat well for days, the holiday offers menus that speak to the rebirth that Easter and Spring offer.

While Good Friday features fish and seafood of all types, Sunday lunch, which will meander on for hours, brings other ingredients to the table. Naturally, there are eggs – set into woven Easter bread or tucked into Torta Pasqualina, a savory Easter tart. Preferred vegetables include asparagus, perhaps in a risotto or served with shrimp in a pasta, as well as artichokes, spinach and fava beans, the latter nibbled on alongside young pecorino.

torta_pasqualina
Torta Pasqualina, a savoury Easter Tart with spinach and eggs

The main course is quite likely lamb, prepared as ribs or pan fried or oven baked with potatoes. And for dessert, in addition to the large chocolate eggs, there is the Colomba, the dove-shaped cake representing salvation which is baked with candied fruite and coated with almonds and sugar crystals. Whatever is not polished off at Easter lunch will slip into the picnic basket or reappear at breakfasts to come.

Weather at Easter Time in Tuscany

The weather in April and May is delightful, with highs of 23º (73F) and lows of around 10º (50F), perfect for exploring museums, hilltowns and the wonderful Tuscan landscape. It can be chilly and pools are usually either closed or quite chilly to swim in, but the flowers and plants are in full bloom, birds are singing full-throatedly and the whole landscape looks like its in full springtime re-birth.

Where to stay in Tuscany

Looking for a villa in Tuscany? Have a look at our selection here or contact us for advice.

Villas in Tuscany

Casa-Etrusca00019
Casa Etrusca in the Val d'Orcia is the perfect base for exploring Tuscany in springtime