Easter in Rome: what to do in Holy Week?
Italy has almost 60 million inhabitants and, of these, about 43 million are Catholics. Due to its proximity to the Holy See, Vatican, Rome is one of the most popular destinations for tourists during Easter and Holy Week and, therefore, the city ends up getting busier than during Christmas, for example. So, Easter in Rome: what to do in Holy Week? And what are the 10 must-see castles in Italy? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
Easter is one of the most anticipated celebrations for Catholics around the world. Rome breathes Easter, and the weeks leading up to it, in a special way and is a city much sought after by families who want to celebrate the date in a special way. Holy Week moves the city in a unique way and everything starts in Holy Week. Also read: Religious Tourism in Italy!
By Catholic tradition, Holy Week is officially opened a week before Easter, on Palm Sunday.
But what is Palm Sunday?
Palm Sunday recalls the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem and receives this name, as the people cut branches from trees – palm leaves, olive trees, etc. – to cover the ground where Jesus rode a donkey. The branches were also used in the hands of the population while acclaiming the “Messiah”. That is: Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem to meet his death, and recalls the last days of Christ’s earthly life and his Passion, Death and Resurrection. In Italy the celebration is called Domenica delle Palme.
Another factor that also moves the city during Holy Week is the period:
With spring “knocking on the door”, temperatures are milder and, therefore, the city is less cold, encouraging people to go outside. Being the capital of Christianity, I would like to take this opportunity to give you a golden tip: if you intend to spend Easter – or Holy Week – in Rome, organize yourself in advance, as the city gets very busy! Discover our Section: Weather in Italy
1) How is Easter celebrated in Rome?
On Good Friday in Rome, the famous Via Sacra ceremony takes place. Every year the Pope leads a procession along a very special path: from the Colosseum to the Temple of Venus. This is the famous staging of the Via Crucis.
The Via Crucis is about 600 meters long and has 14 stops; each stop represents a moment in Christ’s journey, including his three falls, in addition to the moment when Jesus meets his mother, Mary, and the moment when he is undressed so they can crucify him.
This journey is made in memory of the journey made by Jesus on Mount Calvary. In the old days the Pope carried the cross, however, for health reasons, this is no longer the case.
It is also worth mentioning that on this day the Colosseum lights up differently:
With candles and torches, creating an atmosphere of reflection and prayer. The entire route is marked by strategic stops in Rome on the ancient Palatine Hill, and it is, in fact, a truly unique spectacle that offers an unparalleled emotional intensity.
Important to Know!
It gets FULL of people! So: arrive early! The start of the performance is usually scheduled for 21:15, so get organized!
2) And Easter Sunday: how is it?
Well, the highlight of the celebration, of course, is the mass held in Piazza San Pietro. On Easter Sunday, the Pope celebrates the solemn mass that attracts pilgrims from all over the world and fills both the Vatican and Rome. Participation is FREE, but tickets are required. To make a reservation, you must enter the Official Website of the Vatican Prefecture and send the request via post, informing the requested data. Click here to access the Official Website!
To change the language of the official website, just scroll to the end and select the language of your choice in LINGUE.
Other Easter Traditions in Rome!
One of the most famous (and delicious!) Roman traditions is the Easter breakfast. Yes! It’s a different breakfast, richer than usual, and includes savory and sweet dishes. Usually families get together early in the morning, pray, and have their meal. The table is well decorated and full of delights!
Some typical foods
Rome is famous for some typical foods like Pasta Carbonara, Pasta Amatriciana among many others, but for Easter, other dishes like the classic Easter pizza (or pizza sbatteta) make the list. This is a different kind of pizza, and is served both in the classic version – which is sweet – and in the savory version, which is – usually – made with cheese. The savory version is accompanied with cold cuts such as salami and other sausages, and is a hit because it is delicious.
Other very traditional dishes, of course, are eggs!
They are used cooked, or in omelettes with artichokes or asparagus. The shells are saved to be painted and used as decoration. Also read: Cooking Courses in Rome!
The savory pies
Some families also prepare some types of savory pies. They are usually stuffed with vegetables. Also, the Coratella with artichokes cannot be missing; Coratella is lamb entrails cooked in a pan, but – in all honesty – this dish is less and less appreciated by the new generations.
For lunch, in Rome, it’s not Easter if you don’t have: lamb (lamb), offal, chicory and artichokes on the table. Dishes such as fettuccine and lasagna are also served alongside other types of meat.
Lamb is usually cooked in the oven with potatoes or on the grill. The lamb ribs are separated one by one, breaded and then fried, and I don’t even need to say that it’s delicious, right?!
In addition, the artichoke, of Jewish origin, is truly the symbol of the Roman Easter table, being cooked to be a side dish.
3) And Pasquetta: what is it? How do we celebrate it?
Easter Monday in Italy is called Pasquetta. It is very common to be a rest day, but there are also those who prefer to take short trips – to the mountains or to the beach – and spend the day outdoors, whether having a barbecue or a picnic with family and friends.
Some tips if you plan to spend Holy Week or Easter in Rome:
- Make your hotel and restaurant reservations in advance, especially the reservation for the Easter lunch, as places get full!
- Prepare to find a city packed with tourists and locals; Rome gets very busy and there are several queues in several places.
- If possible, avoid using the car to move around the city during the holidays, as you may encounter traffic on several streets and even on the roads. Remember that some streets have restricted access for celebrations, so choose to use public transport or take beautiful walks. To access public transport timetables, I suggest you take a look at the official website of the company responsible for Roman transport. Click here!
- In large crowds, keep your belongings safe. Avoid moving around the city with large volumes and take only what you need.
- The Vatican Museums are closed on January 1st and 6th, February 11th, April 9th and 10th (Easter), May 1st, June 29th, August 15th and 16th, November 1st and 8th. , 25th, 26th and 31st of December.
- To access the Official Vatican Website, click here!
- Find out here: How to visit the Vatican Museums?
- Find out here: How to see the Pope in Rome?
- Find out here: How to request a blessing from the Pope?
- The Coliseum is open all year round, closing only on December 25th and January 1st.
- Find out here: Visit the Coliseum in Rome
- Attention: be prepared to walk, because at the time of the staging, the metro and all the streets in the vicinity of the Coliseum are closed.
- Find out here: How to use Public Transport in Rome
- Find out here: How to use the metro in Rome?
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