How to spend Holy Week in Rome
As you may have noticed, religious celebrations besides being deeply rooted in Italians’ traditions, are also deeply rooted in the Italians’ hearts. Surely, Easter is among the most loved ones. Its celebration extends over one entire week, the Holy Week, during which families reunite, attend various religious events, and enjoy big meals together.
However, whether you are celebrating your Easter with your family, friends or alone, I’m happy to tell you that there is a lot you can do here in Rome on Easter. The city and its nearby towns offer many opportunities to discover old celebrations and local traditional foods. Let’s start with the firsts.
Religious events in Rome during Easter
One of the most important religious event in Rome is the traditional Via Crucis or “Way of the Cross” led by Pope Francis. The procession, which retraces Christ’s way to his crucifixion, will depart from the Colosseum on April 19th at 9.15pm. The Rome Via Crucis is attended by thousands of faithful, that it is why the procession is usually very crowded. If you are looking for something smaller and more intimate, there are alternatives as much as traditional.
On the night of Good Friday, the small town of Bracciano commemorates the Via Crucis throughout the alleys of its medieval center. The town, located only 40 minutes north to Rome, will host a religious reenactment composed of more than 150 performers. Every year, the actors’ old traditional costumes and Bracciano’s enchanting medieval atmosphere attract people from all over Italy. The procession of the Good Friday is also celebrated in many neighboring towns such as Albano Laziale, Castel Madama and Nerola.
Traditional Easter breakfast
On Easter morning, the traditional breakfast is one of my family’s unavoidable traditions. This meal, a sort of Italianized brunch, is composed of cold cuts, boiled eggs, different types of cheese, pizza di pasqua (either sweet or salty), fruits and, of course, the just-opened chocolate eggs. Now that I am vegetarian, this traditional breakfast has been enriched with other tasty foods. My favorite one is the Erbazzone, an Italian typical salty quiche stuffed with wild herbs and spices that vary across each region.
After the breakfast, I remember my grandma hurrying to clean the house before going to the morning Mass, so she could have everything ready for the subsequent big lunch. If you are planning on spending your Easter in Rome, you can go to any church and participate to the Easter Mass. Also, if you’re thinking big, you can try to get some free tickets for the Mass in San Peter for you and your family. Just make sure to arrive a few hours early!
Traditional Easter lunch
After the morning Mass, Italian families always reunite for the traditional lunch. The more traditional will stay home preparing typical foods, others, instead, prefer to go to a restaurant. Whatever will be your decision, the variety of typical foods will amaze you. Easter dishes vary all across Italy: each town has different traditions!
However, there are some universal and must-have dishes shared all over the country: fried artichokes, lasagna, torta pasqualina, colomba pasquale and, of course, the chocolate eggs. If you’re looking for an Easter lunch in Rome, Il Marchese at Via di Ripetta and Centro near Monti are great choices with their special Easter menu.
While Pasticceria Bompiani in Rome creates beautifully decorated chocolate eggs, which are inspired by the works of contemporary artists, transforming a chocolate egg in an art piece. Another patisserie that will amaze you is Grezzo Raw Chocolate. This Raw Vegan shop combines the benefits of highly nutritious ingredients with the goodness of pure and natural flavors, making you forget of all the common stereotypes on vegan food.
How to celebrate Pasquetta Italian style
The last day of celebration after Pasqua is Pasquetta. Easter Monday is usually spent by Italians as a day trip to the countryside. Families and friends meet to have a relaxing picnic in nature, either organizing a nice barbecue or bringing the left-overs from the Sunday Easter lunch. Thanks to the FAI, the park of Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli, opens to the public during the Easter Weekend, offering also the possibility to buy baskets of local products to enjoy a beautiful picnic in nature. Villa Greogoriana will for sure amaze you with its waterfalls and caves, and, best of all, it is very close to Rome and reachable also by train or a bus from Stazione Tiburtina.