Friday, March 31, 2017

A Quaint and Peaceful #Pasqua in #Pienza

Wine, Food and Feste di Pasqua a Pienza, Italy

Pasqua, which refers to Easter or Passover in Italy, is commemorated across the peninsula in several different fashions. Recognized as a national holiday because it is the most important Catholic holiday celebrated in Italy, there are many traditions and rituals associated with Pasqua that vary by region. Most are familiar with the Easter celebrations in Rome and the Vatican that bring in multitudes to see the Pope, to worship and to feel the ambiance.  However, Rome is not the only place to be at this time of year.  Pienza, one of my favorite towns in the Tuscan region of Italy, is a delightful and quaint place to be during Pasqua.  

Pienza is located in Val d'Orcia, between Montepulciano and Montelcino.  Rightfully listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pienza is a true and renown Renaissance town due to its outstanding history, art and architecture.  Pienza also has some interesting food and festival traditions surrounding Settimana Santa, or Holy Week. As there are many events and festivals at this time, one such festival is Pienza’s Processione degli Scalzi. The Processione degli Scalzi, translated as 'barefoot procession', is done annually on Good Friday to commemorate the Passion of the Christ.  The festival involves 12 hooded, barefoot figures carrying torches and a statue of the Christ.  This procession takes place in the square and along the main streets.  


Pienza’s Processione degli Scalzi (Video)

As noted, Pienza also enjoys traditional Easter fare at this time.  As uova, or eggs represent life and rebirth, eggs are heavily incorporated in breads, pastries and pastas.  Typical Easter pastas include lasagna, ricotta cavatelli, and tortelli maremmani, a pasta filled with ricotta and spinach.  Agnello, or lamb, of course is a Pasqua staple.  Then, there's i dolci! The main sweet in every Pasqua celebration is Colomba Pasquale, or Easter Dove, which is a sweet bread shaped like a dove, which denotes peace and salvation.  Colomba is usually made with raisins and almonds. 

Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove)

Tenuta Poggio il Castellare
Montelcino Italy
The Wining Hour's Pasqua in Pienza Selections:

Poggio il Castellare Brunello di Montelcino 2010 is the vino of choice. Tenuta Poggio produces high quality wines, such as Brunello Riserva, Brunello, Rosso, and Toscana Rosso in Montelcino, right in the heart of Val d’Orcia.  Poggio il Castellare's Brunello is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, which were harvested manually, before undergoing malolactic fermentation in steel vats. Next, it sat in Slavonian oak barrels for 30 months, in French oak barrels for 20 months and then in the bottle for 4 months before being on the market.  

Poggio il Castellare Brunello di Montelcino is the typical ruby in appearance, with intoxicating aromas of black currant, plum, cherry and oak.  The palate is smooth with notes of vanilla, cherry, black raspberry and spicy licorice.  Well-balanced with a lingering finish.

As lamb is typical around this time of the year, we paired this delicious Brunello with grilled lamb chops, broccolini and herb-roasted potatoes.  

Grilled Lamb Chops Recipe

Ingredients:

6 lamb chops
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
Fresh rosemary
salt and pepper (to taste)

Procedure:

Finely chop and mince garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Rub both sides of the lamb chops and marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Overnight is preferred.  When ready to prepare, allow chops to warm to room temperature. Heat the grill.  Sear for about 2-3 minutes on each side for medium. Longer, if you prefer well-done. 


Delicious!  
Pienza is certainly another option when considering Pasqua in Italy.

To know more about Pienza, be sure to read my other post on Picturesque Pienza: The Ideal Renaissance Town

To learn more about a variety of other Easter dishes and wines to enjoy, join our live chat this Saturday April 1st on Twitter at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST...or read on:  

Jen from Vino Travels features Easter Celebrations in Puglia

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features Il Verdetto di Pasqua + Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Riserva Carignano

Susannah of Avvinare features Easter Traditions in Rome

Jill of L'Occasion features 5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings

Gwendolyn of Art Predator features Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine

Mike of Undiscovered Italy features Colomba di Pasqua

Li of The Wining Hour features A Quaint and Peaceful Pasqua in Pienza


Join us next month on May 6th as Gwendolyn from Art Predator hosts Italian Sparkling Wines.  See you then!

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