make a booking

& events

San Gandolfo Festival
The 7th Wednesday after Easter and the 3rd week end in September
find out more >

The Most Holy Crucifix
Starts May 1st
find out more >

La Sagra delle Nocciole (The Hazelnut Festival)
Always in August usually after the 15th, a moveable date

Lo Sfoglio
Late August

Santa Lucia
December 13


Associated Links


Easter in Sicily: Sorrow, Sweetness, a Picnic and Botero

Posted by Suzanne on 02 Apr 2015

Sicilian Easter: laments and prayers; slow processions and mournful music; sweet triumphant offerings; the renewal of spring; long lunch tables laden; and an Easter Monday picnic -La Pasquetta- filled with music, food and song.

And this year; an art exhibition, Via Crucis. La Pasion de Cristo, in Palermo’s Norman Palace where the story of Easter is captured movingly by the famed Columbian artist Botero.


The sweetness of Sicily’s triumphant Paschal marzipan lamb

It was 2006, on the slopes of Mount Etna and I had been invited to a long Easter Sunday lunch with family at the 'foot of the mountain’ in the lava town of Piedimonte Etneo. We ate in a room filled with light.

It was a feast signifying the end of the winter lenten months; macaroni piled high with a rich ragu and topped with grated cheese, a dozen or so delicious cannoli from a pastry shop a few streets over, panettone shaped like a dove, Sicilian oranges  and a bottle of Regaleali white wine from a winery not far from Polizzi Generosa.

Paschal lamb image taken from Alessandra Dammone's book "Sweet Sicily"

The sweet Paschal lamb on the table that Easter was small and perfectly formed; hand painted, it heralded a red banner. It is said to “symbolise Christ’s triumph over death". It was the table’s centrepiece.

And the taste of marzipan lamb is deliciously sweet but not too much; the taste of hundreds of pure almonds is divine.

The Paschal marzipan lamb is found all over Sicily and the one from Favara (near Agrigento) Agnello di Marzapane e Pistacchi is, says passionate cook and writer, Alessandra Dammone, the most famous; “stuffed with sumptuous pistachio filling.”


The grieving Madonna

On the solemn evening of Good Friday the dimly lighted streets of many of the island’s villages and cities are filled with the prayerful voices of the people and the confraternities as they follow the lamenting Madonna.

In Polizzi, the grieving Madonna wears a draped, floor length black gown worthy of Milan and the procession is mournful.

The Good Friday dirge, once sung by Sicilian women in their homes, echoes the grief of the Madonna. This one is from Capaci, near Palermo.


“My son, my Jesus, you died on the cross,

Like a pure and innocent lamb,

Mirror of my eyes, serene light

Son, lower your brow and push your eyes,

Look at your grieving mother

Who kisses your feet and presses them and squeezes them

Son, your shining hair

Was all a mass of gold threads,

Now it is dark and bloodstained."

(From “Easter in Sicily” by Antonino Buttitta)


La Pasquetta -Easter Monday and a picnic in the country

La Pasquetta is often celebrated with an unbridled, slow picnic that continues well into the night. The villages are silent, from around mid-morning, as both young and old head to country garden plots, often only minutes outside of the towns, to celebrate the long awaited arrival of spring.

Baskets and boxes are filled with meat, fennel and pork sausages, fresh loaves of bread, ricotta and homemade wine.

A large fire is often built, guarded and stoked to do the barbecue and singing can be heard as darkness closes the day.


Botero’s exhibition, “Via Crucis. La Pasion de Cristo’ in Palermo

Image from boteroapalermo


And, if you find yourself in Sicily’s capital this Easter head to the Norman Palace to see Botero’s Passion of Christ exhibition, ‘Via Crucis. La Pasion de Cristo’. What a great way to spend a few hours during a Sicilian Easter. And, if I were there I would happily join the queue; it finishes on June the 21st.

My Easter this year will be spent on Australia’s Pacific coast in the sub tropics. It will be a cool autumnal one.


Buona Pasqua






Edited on 7/4/2015: 'La Pasquetta' paragraph &  5/9/2015: It was said in the original blog that Easter 2006 was the first tasting of marzipan lamb this has since been remembered not to be so. Suzanne

<< Back to list