In Italy it is traditional to go for a picnic on Easter Monday. It is often done in great style with a portable barbecue and can last all day. Some people will even camp out the night before to make sure they get a good place. There will be football matches, guitars playing, whole families and groups of young people will be dotted about the Italian countryside from top to toe.
My first memories of picnics are of cheese sandwiches and a flask of hot chocolate. We were never put off by the British weather. If it rained we picnicked in the car, if the sun came out we looked for an ice cream van and had a 99 flake.
On holiday in France we would have the ubiquitous baguette, some ham or cheese and a pastry from a patisserie.
The most wonderful description of a picnic is surely from Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows. If you're not familiar with the story it's right at the beginning when the Mole has made friends with the Rat and they go for a picnic on the river.
It took my Italian relatives awhile to understand this very British story. They are still not sure about it, but they do appreciate the beauty of the River Thames which inspired it.
Yesterday we went out for the day with Italian friends. I thought we were just going to have a quick sandwich but no, we were taken to a beautiful spot by a river and in just a few minutes, tartan rugs were laid down, a tablecloth placed in the middle and covered with all manner of ham, cheese, boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, bread, and then bottles of red wine, Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove.
I think I know how Mole must have felt when Ratty produced his wonderful picnic.
|You can easily have a picnic with whatever you've got in the fridge|
|From The Wind in the Willows, description of Ratty's picnin|
|Arthur Rackham's lovely illustration of the picnic|
|Primroses make a picnic spot enchanting|
|Sheep. lambs and cherry blossom|