Spring in Italy means mostly great weather, though in the north of the country some snow in early spring is still possible. The warming trend through March, April and May means more ‘al fresco’ dining opportunities and backyard family get-togethers. What’s more, Italy also observes Daylight Saving Time like the United States, so the extra hour of evening daylight allows for lingering longer into the evenings. Spring also means festivals.
Easter (and in Italy, Easter Monday is a national holiday!), Liberation Day on April 25th, Italian Labor Day on May 1st, and the Festa della Repubblica on June 2nd are but a few of the festival highlights. And for food loving Italians– which means, mostly, all Italians–Spring is a season for celebration. Eating locally and seasonally is revered in Italy, and so is springtime: Vegetable gardens begin to bloom and grow with fresh, leafy greens, fava beans and other fagioli; asparagus, artichokes, zucchini flowers, spring peas, leeks, beets, garlic and lemons. Also, short-season fruit strawberries and cherries. Many Italians won’t even consider eating a food out of season, so Spring is a time to celebrate the bounty that appears fresh from nature.
Interestingly enough, while there isn’t a season, per se, for cheese– including Parmagiano Reggiano, the world-famous cows-milk cheese which can legally only be made within Reggio Emilia, Parma and Modena; west of the Reno River in Bologna and east of the Po River in Mantua– the spring season means new grasses and wildflowers for hungry cows. This in turn means a different hue and aroma to the wheels of cheese produced. So even Italian cheese gets into the Springtime mode! La primavera è bella!