On the evening of Good Friday we had booked to have a special meal with Mike and Mary, as a late celebration of our Wedding Anniversary at an unusual little restaurant, “La Pulcinella”, in the historic centre of Itri. As we walked up the cobbled steps we saw that preparations were underway for the “Processione del Cristo Morto”.
After our welcoming aperitif of chilled Prosecco served with a fresh strawberry we were ushered up through the beautifully renovated olive mill to our table. Whilst you can chose from a menu, we chose to let the restaurant follow in their tradition, in which they bring customers a selection of tempting Neapolitan mini-dishes to sample, instead of a single starter, not unlike tapas. These were numerous, very interesting, unusual and plentiful, with so many different flavours.
We then heard strains of music being played by the town’s brass band, which proceeded the procession. This brought a not unwelcome pause to the meal as everyone, staff and customers, went outside to watch the proceedings.
The solemn procession of the priest and people bearing torches and candles slowly filed down the narrow passageway, groups of men dressed in white cassocks and black sashes reverently carried the statue of the Dead Christ and that of the Virgin Mary dressed in black.
The procession periodically paused and the participants sombrely recited prayers before moving on along the route. The procession seemed to be unending as the faithful continued to flow down the steps. It was a moving experience to witness and seemed even more poignant in the wake of the recent terrible tragedy in L’ Aquila.
We returned to our meal, where we decided to pass on the pasta course and move directly onto the “secondo” which naturally with it being Good Friday, comprised solely of fish, which was absolutely delicious. Just three of us managed to move on to the delectable dessert course, before opting to stagger home for some coffee. We would highly recommend this unusual little restaurant to anyone who likes to tantalise their tastebuds. La Pulcinella website.
La Pulcinella, comes from the Naples area, and is one of the clown figures from the “Commedia dell’Arte”, a theatre form dating from the 16th century. The name Pulcinella was Anglicised to Punchinella who became better known as Mr Punch.
Today, Easter Sunday, Italians rejoice at the resurrection of Christ and people gather together to share in a special family meal. Traditional desserts include “Pastiera”, which is a rustic sweet ricotta pie, typical of Naples and “Columba” cake, which is similar in composition to a Christmas Panetone, but is baked in the shape of a dove, signifying peace.
Well, may we take this opportunity to wish you, one and all
A Happy Easter / Buona Pasqua