The Easter holiday is nothing short of massive in Italy. Being a Roman Catholic country, the entire nation comes together to celebrate this occasion. There is a very strong spiritual theme that surrounds Italy throughout Easter and the parades and festivities that accompany it are so spectacular that you cannot help but be impressed.
Although parties and parades will be going on all over the country, it’s the big cities that play host to some of the most impressive Easter traditions.
The biggest celebrations in Rome
Easter in Rome is the busiest time of the year for the Eternal City. People flock to the Italian capital for what is one of the biggest celebrations on the Catholic calendar. A great deal of the festivities surround the Pope, and thousands of people visit Rome during Easter for this very reason.
The celebrations started on Holy Thursday when the Pope blesses the holy oils in Saint Peter’s Basilica during a special morning Mass. In the evening, the Pope leads the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, again at Saint Peter’s. Many pilgrims turn up to this, as the Pope washes the feet of twelve priests in honour of Christ’s actions at the last supper.
On Friday evening, the most impressive and humbling part of the Easter tradition takes place; the Pope leads a procession in the Colosseum that commemorates the fourteen stages of Christ’s passion. On Easter Sunday, the Pope will have held Mass, but this time he does so in the square of Saint Peter’s – the sheer number of people who gather to witness this part of the tradition is astounding. To finish the prayer, his Holiness delivers the blessing “ “Urbi et Orbi – to the City and to the World”.
Delicious delights in Verona
During Easter, Verona becomes very popular with Italians, so you can expect to rub shoulders with locals, travelling Italians and tourists alike. As well as the usual religious events of Mass and the Passion of Christ, Verona puts a heavy emphasis on food during Easter. In fact, the Monday after Easter Sunday “Pasquetta” it is common for families to get together for a large meal in celebration.
Due to this, many of the restaurants have special Easter menus on offer, but it’s the pastries and sweets sold in the bakeries that really make food a big part of the celebrations in Verona. Expect to see all manner of different coloured cakes lining shop windows, decorated in all manner of Easter-themed designs and colours. Alongside the cakes, you’ll see masses of fantastic-looking eggs, perfectly created to make the mouth water. You may think you’ve tried an Easter egg before, but you haven’t until you’ve tried one in Italy.
As an added touch, Verona’s bell tower is lit up by a purple light come nightfall to commemorate Christ’s final sacrifice.
Parades in Venice
Much like the rest of Italy, religious parades and prayers are a huge part of the celebrations in Venice. However, the sight of hundreds congregating for Mass at the beautiful Saint Peter’s Basilica is a profoundly moving experience for even non-Catholics to witness.
It could be the beauty of the iconic square that surrounds the church, or maybe it’s just the positive feelings emitted by so many people; whatever it is, it’s an amazing event. Expect the city to be filled with more tourists than locals, but there will still be plenty of parades and classical concerts going on throughout the city to get you in the Easter spirit.
Music and festivities in Naples
Naples is famous for its party spirit, and during Easter the celebrations go up to the next level. Although incredibly significant in terms of religion, many of the festivities that take place in this southern city are accessible to tourists as well as the locals.
Whereas in Rome, the majority of the larger celebrations are centred around Saint Peter’s, the parades and plays take place all over Naples. With so many churches dotted around the city, you can expect to see plenty going on during Holy Week. Some key places to visit include the Adoration in Santa Restituta (Cathedral), Church of San Giorgio Maggiore and the esplanade in front of the Duomo.
There is also the option of live music in Naples, as many squares and open spaces in the city are transformed into performance areas during Easter. Although these shows usually consist of local, traditional music, there are sometimes bigger names involved.
Italy is sure to see a wealth of celebrations going on throughout the country over this weekend!