Not only gastronomic traditions, Easter in Friuli Venezia Giulia has always been a time for games: in Cividale del Friuli, for example, the “truc” is an ancient Easter ritual practised, according to a manuscript preserved in the Museum of Cividale, from at least the 18th century but probably much older. It consists in preparing a bowl of sloping sand with a characteristic oval structure, into which coloured eggs are lowered, following precise rules, with the intention of making them touch each other.
Easter festivities cannot be complete without pinza, a soft, sugary pandolce that is certainly the most popular Easter cake in Friuli Venezia Giulia, so much so that “bona Pasqua, bone pinze” is the wish that is exchanged in Trieste and Gorizia during the Easter festivities.
Kneading the pinza by hand required considerable physical effort and the old recipe books recommended kneading the last dough for up to two hours. The dough was then cut into round loaves, which were placed in rows on wooden boards covered with a tablecloth.
In Friuli Venezia Giulia, a region rich in food and wine traditions contaminated by the many peoples who have passed through this land, Easter is celebrated at the table with unique dishes rooted in history and folklore.
Cooking pinza was very difficult in the cheap wood-burning kitchens of the past, and many turned to the pec, their trusted baker: on Good Friday, in fact, women would be seen carrying wooden planks with the tongs covered by a napkin and an egg on the side to be cooked by a professional.
The most wary would put in a coin or make special marks to make sure they were not mixed with those of other families: the distinctiveness of the family recipe would be lost.
The pec detached paper numbers: one was put on the tongs and the other was given to the person who had brought them, so that they could then be collected without exchanging tongs of different origin. The pec had only to use the egg to brush the pliers and then make the typical Y-shaped cut from the bottom to the top.
Pliers dough is also used to make the frati, or titole or tičica or menihi, which consist of braids of yeast dough enclosing a hard-boiled egg, often coloured red. The shape is supposed to recall the nails used in the crucifixion, and the red-dyed eggs are reminiscent of the stones of Calvary, stained by the bright red blood dripping from the Cross.
Ramandolo and Picolìt, sweetness in the glass
The two most famous and appreciated sweet wines in Friuli Venezia Giulia are the Docg wines Ramandolo and Picolìt, which in recent decades have made great progress, becoming products of extraordinary finesse, capable of standing out in any context.
Of the two, Ramandolo can only be produced in a sub-zone between the municipalities of Nimis and Tarcento in the province of Udine, near the village of Ramandolo from which it takes its name. Picolìt, on the other hand, is obtained from grapes harvested in the entire hillside district, boasting the undisputed quality protected by the Docg. Both wines are an excellent accompaniment to typical Easter desserts.
There are several wineries in the Da noi sui Colli itinerary of the Wine and Flavours Route that produce Ramandolo and Picolìt. Visiting them means treating yourself – at Easter as throughout the year – to a slow experience among the gentle hills of the Colli Orientali.