Tanti Auguri and Happy Birthday to Toni & Me!
Happy Easter to everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your Easter holidays and not indulging in too much chocolate and hot cross buns! I found a local version of a hot cross bun in our baker the other day – a traditional Easter fruit bun so bought a few of those and enjoyed them warm slathered with butter!
Roast lamb is one of the most traditional foods eaten for Easter and the Colomba, the preferred desert. We spent Easter with Emiliano’s family near the beach so our lunch was fish based. Spaghetti allo Scoglio followed by Fritto Misto.
I have had an amazing week which all started with a surprise visit from my dad who decided at the last minute to come and visit Toni and I for our 40th birthday! We couldn’t have asked for a better present! Dad or Papa Joe as we affectionately call him arrived late last Monday night bringing with him about 20 delicious Australian avocados. I have one more left in the fridge and will be sad when it is gone. The avocados that I can buy here are quite flavorless and watery so it was so nice to have a little taste from home.
I feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful family and very lucky to share my birthday on the 23rd April with my twin sister Toni. We had a lovely few days together with dad wandering around Florence and eating delicious food each night in restaurants Aviation and Piazza del Vino. The former perfect for the kids as they serve gourmet burgers, hot dogs and chips. Dad also ate his share of his favourite Trippa and Lampredotto!
The dinner at Piazza del Vino was where we celebrated our birthday, each of us thoroughly enjoying our different meals from the different regions of Italy. We all shared an amazing antipasto of ‘Coccoli con Prosciutto e Stracchino’ (coccoli are fried pizza dough), ‘Arancini Siciliani’ and ‘Sformato di pecorino e pere’ (mini pecorino and pear souffle)
I can’t believe I’m now 40 years old! I just can’t identify with that number! As I recently read that 40 is the new 30 I think that this will be my new mantra!
My tummy is growing rapidly and I am now 21 weeks pregnant. My most recent ultrasound was fascinating and Toni was there with Emiliano to ooh and aahhh over the images on the screen. Every time I moved my head forward to look at the screen, the doctor told me to lie down again – “Giu Signora Giu” but she was nice enough to let ‘The Mamma’ have a look once she had finished taking all of the baby’s measurements. I feel great and am thoroughly enjoying this pregnancy and watching the fascinating changes that my body is going rhrough. It its true what they say though – my tummy is like a magnet to any hand within touching distance. Have had to bite my tongue a bit when I have felt my personal space being invaded.
Other big news is that Emiliano and I have been house hunting and think we have found the One! I am more convinced than Emiliano – he is the voice of reality who keeps doing the sums to confirm it is within our budget. We have been to see the bank and had the pre-approval for the mortgage and the plan is to put forth our formal offer this week. Buying a house in Italy is such a new (and a bit scary) experience. It is certainly an education and I will write a post on buying a house in Italy once I have survived the whole process.
Getting back to Easter did you know that Florence is the second most popular city visited in Italy over the Easter period (Rome is number one) and wandering around centro on the weekend was proof of the hundreds of visitors invading the city. Luckily the sun was shining and the forecast rain did not appear.
Many traditional events take place in Florence over the Easter long weekend. The Holy week starts with Palm Sunday (Domenica delle Palme) and ends on Easter Monday or the Monday of the Angel (Lunedi dell’Angelo) more commonly called ‘Pasquetta’ which means Little Easter.
One of the most famous ceremonies in Florence is held on Easter Sunday in the Piazza Duomo when a 9 meter tall antique cart (in use for over 500 years) moves from the Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo filled with fireworks and other pyrotechnics. It is hauled by a team of white oxen festooned with garlands of the first flowers and herbs of Spring and also escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians and people dressed in 15th century dress. A wire stretching from the cart to the high alter inside the Duomo is fitted with a mechanical dove (the ‘columbine’). During the singing of Gloria in Excelsis Deo at the Easter mass, the Cardinal of Florence lights a fuse in the ‘columbine with the Easter fire. It then speeds through the church to ignite the cart outside. A successful display from the ‘Explosion of the Cart’ is supposed to guarantee a good harvest, stable civic life and good business.