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The Magic of an Easter in Rome

Experience the magic of Easter in Rome, known as Pasqua in Italian. From ancient ceremonies to colorful street celebrations, Easter in Rome is a unique experience you won't forget.

Join us as we explore the beauty and excitement of this sacred season in one of the world's most enchanting cities.

La Pietà Statue by MichelangeloLa Pietà statue by Michelangelo

Scroll to the bottom of the article for our FAQ about Easter in Italy & Rome

Celebrating Holy Week in Rome

Roman Easter festivities aren't limited to Easter Sunday alone. It all begins with Palm Sunday, marking the start of Holy Week, and stretches all the way up to Easter Monday, or 'La Pasquetta'. During this period, Rome bursts to life with events, processions, and special ceremonies.

Here's what happens in the Vatican and Rome over the Easter weekend...

Recounting Christ's Suffering: Good Friday

On Good Friday, the historic Colosseum morphs into a backdrop for the mesmerizing Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession. This profound reenactment of Christ's Passion features the Pope carrying a wooden cross during the closing stages of the procession.

The Apex of Celebrations: Holy Saturday & Easter Sunday

St Peters in RomeSt. Peter's Basilica

Vatican Easter traditions reach a zenith on Holy Saturday, the day of the Easter Vigil, held at the majestic St. Peter's Basilica. This vigil includes the ceremonial blessing of the fire and the lighting of the Easter candle, symbolic of the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Sunday Mass is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated event. The piazza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica fills with jubilant crowds, ears strained to catch the 'Urbi et Orbi'—the blessing bestowed upon the city and the world, given only on this auspicious day and at Christmas by none other than the Holy Father.

Beyond Easter Sunday: La Pasquetta

Easter Monday, known as 'La Pasquetta’, sees Romans prolong their Easter celebrations by spending a day out, cherishing the often beautiful spring sunshine. Be it family picnics in verdant parks or a drive to the lush countryside, the day is usually enjoyed with friends and family.

An Easter Sight You Must-See 

One sight I really recommend you visit if you are in Rome over the Easter period (or any other time of the year) is the Pietà sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, located in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. It really captures the true meaning of Easter and brings me to tears to see the pain of Mary holding the lifeless body of her son. I think it is the most beautiful statue in the world.

To visit, you can enter St. Peter's Basilica during its opening hours, which typically start early in the morning and last until the evening. However, during Easter, the Basilica may have special schedules or restrictions due to religious ceremonies and events, so it's advisable to check ahead of time. Once inside, you can admire the Pietà, which is located near the entrance on the right side of the nave.

Where to Stay

The Santa Maria is always my number one choice in Rome. I long to return to those breakfasts under the orange trees, in that glorious courtyard that offers a tranquil oasis in the heart of Rome's most exciting neighborhood, the Trastevere district.

If you can't get into the Santa Maria, and it does fill up fast, these are my other hotel suggestions for Rome.

What is the traditional Easter meal in Rome?

Colomba Easter cakeColomba Pasquale

In Rome, Easter is not just a religious occasion but also a cultural and gastronomical spectacle. As a part of Roman Easter rituals, traditional foods represent a cornerstone of the celebrations.

On Good Friday, when abstinence from meat is commonly observed, the menu favors vegan and fish-based dishes. Sampling the Roman style of battered salt cod (baccalà alla romana) is a must for any food lover. The dish was originally a staple of the Jewish community of Venice but is now a tradition for all Romans.

However, Easter Sunday witnesses a shift in culinary delights. The traditional Easter meal is a hearty affair, complete with coratella d'agnello alla romana, a scrumptious dish made of lamb entrails. I know, it sounds horrible, but it isn't. It is really delicious. If you aren't vegetarian or vegan, pluck up your courage and give it a try.

For sweetening the palate, Romans indulge in 'Colomba Pasquale', a dove-shaped cake similar to Panettone that originated in the Milan/Lombardy region but is now a tradition throughout Italy. The cake is heavily garnished with candied fruit and almonds.

Munch on Maritozzi too; these decadent sweet buns are laden with sumptuous whipped cream. Kiss your diet goodbye, but then, what are a few pounds on the hips for a taste of heaven on the lips?

Churches and Catacombs: Signature visits

An inherent component of spending Easter in Rome is visiting the city's spectacular churches. Many of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals in Italy are to be found in Rome, each possessing an added charm and somber air during the Easter period.

St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, and, of course, St. Peter's Basilica are must-visits. The art, architecture, and sheer devotion visible within these churches during the Easter season are unforgettable.

Rome’s renowned catacombs also present a compelling exploration during Easter. These underground burial sites blend history and reverence, making them worth a visit.

One particular Roman Easter ritual that persists today is the 'Visita Sette Chiese' or Seven Church Visit. The tradition started with St. Philip Neri in the 16th century, and today many locals visit these seven specific churches on Holy Thursday to pay their respects.

Experiencing Rome beyond Easter

Trevi Fountain in Rome at nightTrevi Fountain

If you feel overwhelmed and awestruck by the spiritual and visual charms of Easter in Rome, then I've got some good news for you: Rome's historic splendors are ready to overwhelm you with even more emotions and excitement.

So what are the top sights to see?

Well, the glorious Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain, of course, but there are other must-see spots (see the full list here). Rome seems to shimmer in a softer spring light during the early spring season, so if you love photography, this is the season to visit to get the best photos of Rome.

Tours of Rome

FAQs about Easter in Rome and Italy

How is Easter celebrated in Italy?

Easter in Italy, or Pasqua, is one of the most important religious festivals. It is marked with many traditional events, processions, and special ceremonies, starting from Palm Sunday, through Good Friday and Easter Sunday, to Easter Monday. Cities, towns, and villages across Italy have special celebrations, processions, and events to mark the occasion. One of the loveliest cities to spend Easter in, apart from Rome, is Venice. Here's why Venice is so great over Easter.

What do Italians do on Easter Sunday?

Easter Sunday in Italy is steeped in tradition, from attending mass to savoring festive feasts with loved ones. It's a day of joy and togetherness where families gather around tables laden with traditional delicacies.

What is 'La Pasquetta'?

'La Pasquetta', or Easter Monday, is a day when Italians traditionally extend their Easter celebrations with outdoor activities like picnics with family and friends in the park or trips to the countryside.

What is special about Easter in Rome?

Easter in Rome blends solemn religious traditions, cultural festivities, and unique gastronomical experiences. From the Pope's mass at St. Peter's Basilica to the Via Crucis at the Colosseum, the city comes alive with grandeur and spiritual fervor.

In the words of Audrey Hepburn, "Rome, by all means, Rome." It's a sentiment that rings doubly true during the transformative season of Pasqua. Rome during Easter is a journey well worth making.

Is Easter a good time to visit Rome?

Yes, Easter is a great time to visit Rome. Easter in Rome means timeless traditions, vibrant celebrations, and spiritual resonance. "It's a magical time," says local guide Luca, "with the city awash in colors, scents, and a palpable sense of renewal."

What is the weather like during Easter in Rome?

April showers may sprinkle Rome's cobblestone streets, but the sun often emerges, casting a warm glow over the Eternal City. Spring blooms adorn every corner, making it a picturesque time to explore.

What to wear in Rome at Easter?

When visiting Rome at Easter, it's essential to dress appropriately for both the religious significance of the occasion and the unpredictable spring weather. Here are some tips on what to wear:

  1. Modest attire: Since Easter is a religious holiday, it's respectful to dress modestly when visiting churches or participating in religious events. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or attire with offensive slogans or graphics. If you plan to visit churches or participate in religious services during Easter, avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, or clothing that exposes too much skin. It's customary to cover your shoulders and knees out of respect for the sacredness of these places.
  2. Comfortable shoes: Rome is a city best explored on foot, so comfortable walking shoes are a must. Opt for sneakers or flats that provide good support as you'll likely be doing a lot of walking on uneven surfaces.
  3. Layers: The weather in Rome during Easter can be variable, with temperatures ranging from cool mornings to mild afternoons. Layering your clothing allows you to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. Consider bringing a light jacket or sweater that you can easily remove if it warms up.
  4. Sun protection: April in Rome can be sunny, so don't forget to pack sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's rays, especially if you'll be spending time outdoors sightseeing or attending outdoor events.

What is open in Rome on Easter?

While some attractions may close for religious observances, Rome's heartbeat remains steady. Many museums and landmarks adjust their hours, but restaurants, cafes, and shops continue to welcome visitors. 

Are shops closed on Easter Sunday in Rome?

While some small businesses may observe the holiday, Rome's bustling markets and main thoroughfares remain open. It's a time for leisurely strolls, exploring the city's charm, soaking in its rich history, and experiencing the greatest shopping on earth. The good news is that in order to make your shopping in Rome experience extra special, we've written an article with all the insider shopping tips you need. Click here to read it.

Are things closed in Italy on Good Friday?

Good Friday finds Rome in contemplative quietude, with many businesses closed or operating on reduced hours. It's a day of reflection as locals honor the solemnity of the occasion.

Do trains run on Easter in Italy?

Italy's efficient rail network maintains service during Easter, although schedules may vary. Trains provide a convenient way to explore nearby towns, allowing you to experience Easter traditions beyond Rome. For everything train-related, click here.

Are restaurants closed on Easter Sunday in Rome?

While some eateries may close to observe the holiday, Rome's culinary scene remains vibrant. "Savoring a traditional Easter meal is a must," recommends chef Paolo, "with many restaurants offering special menus showcasing Italy's culinary heritage."

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