Easter in an Italian Town

I was once in Italy on Easter Sunday in a town, Pienza, whose cathedral was commissioned by an early Pope, Pius II (1458-1464), who frequently stayed in an adjacent palace designed to be his retreat. This, I thought, was going to be quite an experience – Easter Sunday in Italy at a church that a Pope built. The church was packed, as expected for that day, but what surprised me was that there was no support staff except for one usher. During the mass, he also held the plate beneath the communion chalice. There was no choir, so Easter was a two man show.

There was one parable though. Our group was running a little late, so there was no space left in the pews. The lone usher directed me to a chair that had been set up near the altar. For my tardiness, I had the best seat in the house. Or, to quote Matthew, “The last shall be first.”

Italy is known for its chocolate and seldom is it better presented than at Easter – where a specialty is large milk chocolate eggs. Inside there are candies or some sort of trinket. There are no Easter eggs hunts there but rather the discovery of what is contained by the big eggs.

Food is always part of the discussion when Italy is the topic. This includes the story that in 1889 Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of Italian King Umberto, visited Naples. To honor her, a local pizzeria operator named Raffaele Esposito created a pizza topped with the colors of the Italian flag – mozzarella for white; basil for green and tomatoes for red. He named it Pizza Margherita. Those ingredients had probably been used on pizza bread before but never with a name. From that day the Margherita became famous and so did the pizza business.

Dean Martin’s song “That’s Amore” is about love and contains the line, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.” Easter’s moon will be especially bright this Sunday as it follows (by only one day) the meteorologically correct (Saturday, April 16) full moon. May the moon shine its light on a spirited moment.


Have something to add to this story, or want to send a comment to Errol? Email him at errol@myneworleans.com.

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BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.


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