Easter in Liguria, Senza Famiglia, Without Family

April 3, 2018

It was 7:00 AM when I awakened to the sound of the waves hammering into the breakers and the beach. I lay there listening to the power of the sea as I marveled at the sheer strength of this day’s tide and wind. I don’t often hear it in my room. It was the perfect way to wake up and experience the morning, Easter morning.

For the last few days, it has been cool, dark and rainy. The day before we had Thunder and lightning. It seemed to go with my mood. I was missing my family as we approached this holiday.

Pasqua, Easter, for my family has always been a huge celebration with the entire family living in MN and sometimes with those from out of town.  Our gatherings could be up to 30 people all high on Chocolate from the Easter bunny and followed by our traditional Easter foods.

I knew I would be missy the uncontrolled chaos in Minnesota, missing my daughter and granddaughter on the West Coast, missing the jokes and the food and the love. I decided I could at least have some of the food.

Easter Sweet Ricotta Pizza is one of the three special foods we always have. I chose to make it here in Chiavari.

When I was a little girl, we would all visit Nonna’s house in St. Paul right after Mass. We would eat and play together, almost all the cousins and one of the food we had was Easter Bread, a sweet yeast bread that was yellow with all the eggs and you could smell the cinnamon when Nonna toasted it.

Photo courtesy of MaryAnn Rulli Leo

We also tasted the Sweet Pie and the Sausage Pie.

After we left Nonna’s house, we would visit other homes to taste their pies. Auntie Muggs always had the best sweet pies.  My father always said that Auntie Muggs basically raised him. He was close to her. And, truly, her sweet pizza was perfetto!

My mother’s Abruzzo side of the family would join us for Easter Dinner. We were so crammed into the dining room that some of us sat on the radiator under the windows instead of chairs. My mother loved to entertain and enjoyed cooking. It was miraculous what she could prepare all by herself. And her laughter kept us going.

Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi. This Italian proverb means Spend Christmas with your family and Easter which whomever you choose. For our family that was not true. But, this year, for me, I would experience Easter senza Famiglia, without family.

My friend Tom invited me for dinner at his home in Genoa. There would be three of us sharing time together. So, I packed up my Sweet Easter Pizza and headed for the train station.

It was midday. The balconies on the top floor were duplicated by their shadows.

Once on the train, I watched the sea as it attacked the shoreline.

All along the ride, the sea pommeled the shore.

The light, the sparkling waters, the scent in the air, all were intoxicating. And I was getting hungry.

My Sweet Pizza and I arrived at Tom’s appartamento around 2:00pm. He was preparing quite the spread.

The lamb was cooking in the oven. The aroma was fabulous.

Appetizers were ready.

This was Tom’s first attempt at making pesto. His friend, Franca, gave it an extra touch and stirred it before serving.

We had appetizers and our first course insieme, together. I was already full. And then came the lamb with asparagus baked in the oven with pancetta and Olive Oil.

It was delicious.

After stuffing ourselves on that succulent lamb and the veggies, imbibing in a tasty red wine, we had coffee, Amaro and Strawberries with whipped cream.

We also had the traditional Ligurian sweet Easter Bread with candied orange peels and more of the Sweet Easter Pizza. It took hours to enjoy all the food and conversation. Franca was delightful. Tom was an excellent host, a great cook and all-around fun. I felt so welcome that I hated to leave. But my daughter and granddaughter would be Skyping at 9:00pm my time and I had to catch the train home.

The sun was setting as the train traveled along the sea once again. I had a few pieces of the sweet pizza and the Ligurian bread (I think it is called Colomba ) with me on my ride home. There were families with children playing with their KINDER EGG gifts while others ate more chocolate. It was a raucous ride that reminded me of Minnesota Easter celebrations. At one point about a dozen people broke into song. It was fun. It felt like home to me.

I arrived at my appartamento just before the appointed time to see my girls. They called and shared their Easter morning with me. La mia nipote, my granddaughter, showed me all the colored eggs they made and her Easter Bunny gifts. We laughed, all three of us, we smiled, and we shared our hearts.

Oh, how I miss them. But they are living their lives as am I. Just like nearly every day since I moved to Italy, it was a new experience. And it was a wonderful.

Let me know how I can enhance your life by assisting you in your own Italian adventure. Contact me via Email at: Marilyn@TakeMeHomeItaly.com.

A dopo.

Ciao for now!

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