It’s unlikely that a trip to Italy over Easter will find you in cahoots with the Easter bunny, but you may find something much more interesting than brightly colored eggs. Easter is celebrated in Italy just as it is in any other Christian country, and you can expect some closing and odd hours if you’re visiting the country over the weekend that contains the important holiday. But, while your favorite museum might be closed for the day, you’ll find plenty of other things to do that will keep you busy.
While Good Friday may be the holiday you’re most used to taking from work for Easter, La Pasquetta, or the Monday after Easter is the most common holiday taken in Italy. The days preceding Easter – Good Friday in particular – involve solemn ceremonies, Easter itself and the following days are celebrations that are fun for tourists to enjoy as well.
Parades to celebrate Easter may occur on Easter Sunday, but they may also be occurring on the Friday or Saturday prior to the celebration. Be sure to check in the towns or the area of town you’re visiting to see when to expect celebrations and ceremonies. The parades will include statues of the Holy Virgin and Jesus. The participants in the parades may be dressed in traditional costumes as well as they make their way through the streets. Palm fronds and olive branches are often used as decorations or as part of the processions as well.
Easter Celebrations in Italy
While Rome certainly has some Easter celebrations, many of the oldest and most attended parades and celebrations happen outside of the city. The island of Sicily is home to Enna where a large procession of more than 2000 friars occurs on Good Friday. In nearby Trapani, the procession for Good Friday is a full twenty-four hours long. The procession in Chieti in Abruzzo is famous as well with 100 violins accompanying the event.
Easter in the Vatican
The most popular Easter mass in all of Italy is held by the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope starts the official celebration on Good Friday by doing the Stations of the Cross, or Via Crucis near the Colosseum in the heart of Rome. The ceremony continues into a full mass at the Basilica on Sunday morning. If the crowds keep you away from the Vatican on this Christian holiday, rest assured that you can celebrate mass in any of the churches found throughout Italy – many of them impressively ancient as well.