Pasquetta (pronounced Pas-QUE-tta) or Easter Monday isn't a strictly Maremman or Tuscan tradition. It's something all Italians cherish and one of the most memorable public holidays in the country.
In normal circumstances, any religious holiday is spent with your family in Italy. No questions, no if or buts, and definitely no breaking the rules for your new boyfriend or girlfriend!
But somewhere in modern history, the powers that be dictated that Pasquetta could be spent with your friends without your grandma (or nonna as we call her) disowning you.
Young boys and girls rejoiced and the annual Pasquetta barbecue or picnic tradition was born!
When I first moved to Italy, I couldn't get excited about Pasquetta. I was too busy feeling cheated by the fact that Italians work on Good Friday.
I mean, come on, it's public holiday in Australia and we're Anglicans! You'd think the Pope would extend the same courtesy to his own people.
But I digress. If you're in the Tuscan Maremma for Pasquetta, you're in for a treat... unless you feel like shopping, then you'll have to sit tight because all the shops are closed.
You don't have be Italian to celebrate Pasquetta.
Just do as the Maremmans do - pack yourself a picnic and head for the nearest sunflower field.
What you'll need for a Maremman picnic:
What you have in your picnic basket is really up to you. Visit your nearest panifico
and pick up a really nice loaf of bread and then stuff it with cold cuts.
This might come as a surprise, but most Italians don't shop at delicatessen. They don't really exist. The nearest Coop supermarket will have better proscuitto, salami, pancetta and cheeses than any of the high-end delis back home.
When it comes to food, the Italians demand quality. Coop might be a chain supermarket, but the cold cuts and cheeses are fresh, locally produced and sliced to order. The fruit and vegetables might be bulk packed but they're usually nicer than the ones at the green grocers too. Any other way and they would have gone out of business years ago.
The same goes for wine.
Back home, a good bottle of wine will cost you a fortune. That's just the way it is. But in Italy, you should never pay more than €10 for a bottle of wine.
In the Maremma, you can get incredible bottles of the local superstar red wine, the Morellino di Scansano
, for that price. The local white wine, the Bianco di Pitigliano
, is the same. And both are sold in the local supermarket, so stock up for your picnic and be sure to bring a few bottles home!
As for dessert, you're on your own.
The Italians and the Maremmans in particular don't actually like dessert. I guess you could pick yourself up a really nice peach and a bottle of champagne. Otherwise, stick to traditions and buy a box of cantucci - those delicious almond biscuits. They're a nice end to any meal.
Like I said before, Easter Monday is a big deal in the Maremma, which means there will be plenty of events, festivals and sagre
(traditional food festivals) for you to go along to.
These events change every year, but you can be pretty sure a town near you will be doing something, so keep an eye out for the posters advertising Pasquetta events.
I know Manciano is having a big musical and food festival on Monday afternoon. While in Porto Santo Stefano, the annual Pasquavela sailboat race promises to whip the entire coastline in a party mood with outdoor concerts, organised dinners and free giveaways.
Tips for travelling during Pasquetta:
If you're already in the Maremma during Pasquetta then these tips might be a little redundant, but there's always next year... Italy really is beautiful during the Easter holidays.
- Public transport is not existent on Pasquetta so if you don't have a car, you're on foot
- Pasquetta is one of the few times in the year when you cannot roll into a Maremman town or city and find accommodation without pre-booking. The same goes for restaurants
- You'll be hard pressed to find any shops or supermarkets open so plan ahead
- And finally, take advantage of the beautiful weather and get outdoors. That's what everyone else is doing!