Italian Easter food is prepared as a celebration not only of the resurrection of Christ into Heaven, but of the end of the Lenten season which was a time of fasting and abstinence.
The main attraction of this festive meal is usually a lamb dish.
Occasionally goat will be cooking in place of or in addition to the lamb.
My family likes to prepare rabbit as well.
The lamb can be roasted or baked and is often accompanied by rosemary, olives or fennel.
A typical side dish is usually comprised of artichokes.
Traditionally stuffed or cooking in a sort of "vegetable pie", artichokes are at the peak of freshness at this time of year in Italy and this is positively exploited at most Easter meals.
An Italian Easter meal will have lots of legumes and/or other vegetables that are in season, in addition to the lamb.
Of course there are always desserts present on the Easter table. The most notable is the colomba or Italian Easter bread. This traditional bread is baked in the shape of a dove which is often baked with tid-bits of candied fruits inside.
Other desserts range from Ricotta pie to an elaborate wreath, also a type of Italian Easter bread, with whole eggs baked right on top. Desserts vary from region to region, but many families will often produce a "lamb" shaped cake as a centerpiece to their Easter table.
Eggs are a very important symbol of the Italian Easter tradition. Italian children receive huge eggs whose shells are made of thin chocolate and wrapped in shiny and colorful foil paper. When cracked open little ones find a small treasure or prize inside.
After dinner espresso is always served.
Then families rest up and begin discussions on the activities of the following day, or Pasquetta, a very important additional holiday not celebrated in the US, but ALWAYS in Italy.
This day is often filled with another large family gathering. A picnic in the mountains or outside is very often the way to celebrate!