Springtime in Chianti is a joy. Life in the villages and towns takes on a more carefree attitude as the cool winter months make way for warmer temperatures and spring flowers blanket the idyllic Tuscan countryside.
The Spring equinox also denotes the arrival of Easter in Chianti and the five-day celebrations which take place throughout Tuscany.
It’s a beautiful time of year here and if you find yourself staying with us at Villa Prenzano during Easter, here’s where to go and what to see for an authentic Easter in Chianti.
*Times displayed for different events denote the journey time by car from Villa Prenzano.
An Italian Easter
Italy is a predominantly Catholic country and Easter is an important event in the Catholic calendar. Celebrations start from the Sunday before Easter Sunday, which commences Holy Week.
It’s a week of solemn remembrance combined with exuberant street events and a coming together of family and friends through delicious seasonal dishes and excellent Italian wine.
There are many traditions and customs throughout the country, and here in Chianti, we celebrate these together with some of our very own unique traditions.
Here’s what you can expect if you are celebrating Easter in Chianti.
Easter Celebrations in Chianti, Tuscany
Easter celebrations take place over five days in Chianti and as a visitor, if you happen to be staying during Easter Week it’s hard not to get caught up in the passion and vibrance of the religious and folkloric celebrations, which conclude with lighter revelries, such as family picnics, chocolate eggs and fireworks!
Throughout the towns and villages of Chianti, you’ll experience Easter processions, performances recreating the events from the Crusades, and modest churches brought to life with elaborate flower decorations and brimming with locals and tourists who come to pay their respects during the Easter mass services.
Holy Thursday in Chianti
Holy Thursday marks the first day of the Easter celebrations in Chianti. Local churches open their doors to the public who come to enjoy the flower displays that bedeck the altars and commemorate the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ.
One of the most beautiful churches to visit in Chianti during Easter is the Santa Maria del Prato church in San Casciano (38 minutes). This little church with its Gothic facade is also known as the Church of the Misericordia and comes alive at Easter with its altar bedecked with flowers.
The church may be small but it harbours a collection of splendid religious artworks, including the beautifully restored Crucifix by Simone Martini, one of the early influencers of the Gothic style and the leading Sienese painter of his time. It is considered to be one of his last works before he left Italy.
Holy Thursday is also the day when the Pan di Ramerino (a bread infused with olive oil, rosemary and dried fruits and nuts) is made and brought to the church to be blessed by the priest.
Good Friday in Chianti
Good Friday and Saturday are the days to enjoy the Easter processions in Chianti. Locals dress up in historic costumes and carry a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus on their shoulders, snaking slowly through town, as people line the streets to pay their respects.
It’s also the day when the churches replace their flower decorations with a cross on a pillow, which symbolises the death of Jesus Christ.
In the small town of Grassina (33 mins), locals recreate the Passion of Christ with storytelling and music which brings visitors from far and wide to enjoy the wonderful reenactment.
Easter Eve in Chianti
A special tradition we have here in Chianti on Easter Eve (Saturday) is to boil and peel eggs (not chocolate ones!), wrap them in crocheted or hand-embroidered doilies, place them in a basket and take them along to the midnight mass to be blessed. The ‘blessed’ eggs are taken home and served as a starter to Easter lunch the next day.
Stay with us at our ‘eggs-quisite’ countryside retreat, Villa Prenzano, and you can take freshly laid organic eggs from our hens to be blessed!
Easter Sunday in Chianti
Throughout Tuscany, Easter Sunday starts with the Easter Mass and finishes with fireworks and one of the best towns to enjoy the day is Greve (10 mins). Locals gather in Piazza Matteotti (the main square) after mass to experience the spectacle known as the Flight of the Colombina.
The ‘Colombina’ is a little white ceramic dove that is released from the church of Santa Croce, shooting up into the rooftops at high speed leaving a cloud of smoke within its wake. Colombina then returns across the Piazza and if it makes it back to the church, it’s said to bring good luck to the townspeople for the year ahead and is a sign that the Chianti grape harvest will be plentiful.
After Colombina is safely back in the church, locals head off to enjoy a feast fit for the Archbishop of Florence himself!
Easter lunch is indeed a grand affair with several courses, including the blessed eggs from Easter Eve, cured meats, chicken soup, followed by roast lamb and finally La Colomba (traditional sweet Easter bread), and Vin Santo or Holy Wine wine – a dessert wine typically drunk at Easter.
Greve is home to several excellent restaurants. If the weather is warm, there is nothing better than spending Easter Sunday on an outdoor terrace, enjoying lunch with family or friends.
In Italy, we have a saying that goes: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi.” Which translates to, “Christmas with family, Easter with whoever you like!” So, come and join us at Villa Prenzano n Chianti this Easter!
Easter Monday or Pasquetta
Easter Monday, also known as Pasquetta, is a national holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ. The day is typically spent enjoying a picnic with family and friends, packing traditional foods, such as breads, olives, cured meats, Pecorino cheese, and, of course, a glass of Chianti Classico to wash it all down.
It’s also the day for the children to enjoy Easter Egg hunts. There is no Easter bunny in Italy, but chocolate eggs with hidden treats are wrapped in colourful paper for delighted children to hunt down and devour after lunch.
As the weather gets milder, it’s also the perfect time for Chianti’s towns and villages to set up traditional markets and on Easter Monday, many localities set up stalls selling everything from local food products, to clothes, or antiques.
Greve holds an annual antique market every Easter Monday. El Mercatino delle Cose del Passato (Market of Things from the Past) is the place to pick up heirlooms, collector’s items and curiosities.
The day after in Panzano
If you are still enjoying your Easter break in Chianti on the Tuesday after Easter Monday, head to the little village of Panzano (18 mins) where they hold a traditional Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the cart).
This typical Firenze tradition places a cart in the centre of the Piazza which is filled with fireworks and lit to create an explosive and colourful display. Here, the Colombina (little white dove) is catapulted from the cart, and it’s considered good luck if it returns back the cart.
The origins of the Scoppio del Carro date back to the First Crusade when Europe laid siege to Jerusalem. It’s said that the first man to scale the walls of the city was a Florentine, who was rewarded for his bravery with three flints from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and which he carried back to Tuscany.
Today, those flints are housed in the Church of Santi Apostoli in Florence, and if you want to see a really impressive display of this event, then head to the city on Easter Sunday, where the Archbishop of Florence lights the wire using the historical flints.
Savour Easter in Chianti
Easter wouldn’t be Easter in Italy, without La Colomba. Similar to a Panettone (eaten at Christmas) and prepared in a dove-shape. La Colomba has been a traditional sweet treat since the 1930s and is the centrepiece of every family dining table at Easter.
And if you have a sweet tooth, and want to indulge in more sugary deliciousness, zeppole are also typically served at Easter. Zeppole are Italian pastries or doughnuts, which are coated in sugar and can be filled with jam, custard, a butter and honey mixture or cannoli cream. Yum!
Sweetness aside, family meals are an essential part of Easter in Tuscany, and there are specialities that are traditionally served at home and in the local restaurants, such as roasted lamb, truffle eggs, savoury pies and Pecorino Toscano (cheese).
And, when you celebrate Easter in Chianti, your meal will be accompanied with the finest Chianti Classico wine you have in the cellar, finished off with a glass of Vin Santo dessert wine. Find out more about the Chianti Classico in our Tuscany Wine Guide.
The weather in Chianti at Easter
Many of our guests ask us what the weather’s like in Chianti at Easter. This depends on the dates, if Easter falls in mid-March, the weather can be cooler, but it’s still a beautiful time to visit the region, with Spring flowers blooming throughout the Tuscan countryside.
It’s also a great time to visit if you want to enjoy outdoor activities, such as cycling, hiking or even cultural visits, as the warmer summer months can be too hot for cultural day trips and outdoor pursuits.
Happy Easter from all of us at The Villa Italy!