27 April 2011

Pasqua, Pasquetta, and Primavera musings

Our wild cherry trees in bloom
Springtime in Italy's northern mountains is well and truly underway. As always the weather is a source of conversation and speculation. We had summer like temperatures in the early part of April tricking our wild mountain cherry trees into thinking that they were late for an important date and beginning to bloom before most of the trees had even thought about leafing out and almost a month earlier than usual.  A few day trips around in the valley and plains where fruit production is one of the main farming endeavors we saw blossoms galore, cherry, pear and apple all just a wee bit early for comfort. Mountain weather can be most unpredictable at best and down right heart breaking at times. So far so good. We have weathered a couple of cold snaps and our fruit trees haven't been nipped in the bud, so we'll revel in all this primavera glory. 
Staffarda Abbey with Monviso in the background
Easter has come and gone now and what a week it was. It seemed everyone had spring fever and an itch to get out of the house and go somewhere, anywhere, even if, just for the day.  Our SerreMarchetto neighborhood was bustling with activity with all of the extended family up for Easter lunch. 

Easter lunch with friends and family
Peasant Bread, Easter Egg bread and Chocolate Torte
My contributions to lunch
We did our part to make a group passeggiata after pushing away from the remnants of the epic holiday lunch to do the ciao ciao with our neighbors and survey what was new in our surrounding woods. We caught up with who had been chopping wood on their property, what was in bloom, what already had berries, the wild blueberries, very surprisingly, who was fixing us their property or putting out some replacement flowering shrubs and on and on till we stumbled back home to face a couple of drops of grappa and coffee before we put together some of the leftovers and a smal bollitto misto, before the dispersal home. 
Friends from New York looking towards home
Passeggiata photo at our SerreMarchetto overlook
Then comes Pasquetta, or little Easter, the Monday after Easter is national picnic day. It seems sometimes to almost be more important to Italians than Easter. Everyone heads to the hills or seaside or flees from the family to picnic with their friends. 
Fair Fare
This year was triply interesting because Pasquetta also happend to fall on April 25th, which is Liberation Day, when the allied forces freed Italy in WWII and it happened to be the last Monday in April which happens to be the ongoing Pinerolo semi annual fiera or fair. 
Italian Liberation Day WWII
If you couldn't find something to do Monday, it wasn't for a lack of offerings. We managed a couple of the offerings. We drove to Pinerolo to take in the fair and see if there was anything we couldn't live with out, and were rewarded with a couple of hand painted platters, one decorated with olive branches and the other with local favorite icon, porcini mushrooms. On our way there we stopped for the town marching bands and military displays. I could have stayed longer at all of the different festivities, but we had a bbq to attend and the ribs were calling our name. The show rolled on. 
Master bar b que chef cousin Paolo
Italian ribs and sausage
We hadn't been to our cousins place before and it is a nice oasis in the fertile flats of the Po river valley. The grass was tall, the weather warm with a gentle breeze and apricot trees that had fruit big enough to start thinking about ripening. 
Green apricots April 25, 2011
They are at least a month or so early. I was truly astonished. 
Pasquetta Picnic
Another round of eating, and some family tales and fellowship before heading home with the holidays being truly over. Well, at least until May 1 when there is yet another  holiday, the Italian equivalent of Labor Day. 
Whew, these holidays are hard work.  


bellini said...

Looks like a lovely Easter was had by all!!!!! Nothing beats sharing with friends and family!

Bella Baita View said...

We did all have a great time. Thanks for stopping by Val.

Nita Tucker said...

The view is so beautiful! I lived in Florence for four years, so I saw a lot of amazing historical structures and artwork, but the countryside is another experience entirely.

Chef Chuck said...

Wow, I love northern Italy!!
The fruit trees sound so inviting!!
Enjoy the spring...
Thank you for sharing :)

Bella Baita View said...

Yes the countryside and mountains, are a completely different experience from the culture and art of the cities. I've always been drawn to mountains having grown up in small country towns. I do love both experiences though, especially in Italy, you can't beat it. Thanks Nnita and Chef Chuck for stopping by and commenting.

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