Easter in Italy: what to do, where to be, what to expect

Easter – that time of year during which the faithful and not alike find themselves promising they would eventually get on a diet. Eventually.

Naturally here in Italy, Easter, or Pasqua in Italian, comes with its many traditions and celebrations – from foods, to processions, to the most eccentric regional traditions. Whether you’ve planned to spend your Easter in Italy, or else you’re here by complete coincidence, we came up with a couple of tips for you to make the best out of your stay here during this festive period.


Sounds quite obvious considering Italy’s cuisine is one of, if not the most, famous around the world. As you know, Italians take their food seriously. Traditional Easter Foods in Italy come in all shapes and forms – from first course, to of course, dessert.

Our tip would definitely be not to miss out on the Colomba Pasquale – the Easter Dove. Although you can find them prepacked in stores, we recommend that you switch your traditional Italian breakfast pastry (‘cornetto’) for a piece of Colomba at your favourite confectioner’s shop, or rather what those cafes commonly known as caffe-pasticceria.

Nothing says Happy Easter like a child’s expression at the sight of an Easter egg. We say children but we also mean adults…

Italians typically wait for Easter morning to crack their eggs and find what is waiting for them inside as a surprise. Chocolate for breakfast? Yes please.

Easter in Italy Colomba
The traditional Italian Colomba (Photo: Wikipedia)

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Or in any other Italian city really. Different cities come with different Easter traditions and celebrations.

Rome, home to the Roman Catholic headquarters, the Vatican is probably most popular Easter celebrations, especially for its Via Crucis on Friday, and Easter Sunday Mass. Also famous is the Urbi et Orbi – the Papal address and Apostolic blessing, which ends in greetings being expressed in many different languages spoken worldwide.

Florence boasts its yearly Scoppio del Carro, where on Easter Sunday an antique cart, packed with fireworks is set on fire. Legend has it that this guarantees a good year ahead.

Many small towns hold their own processions from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, so you might want to ask your hotel concierge for anything that is traditional of that particular town.

Lo Scoppio nel Carro in Florence
Lo Scoppio nel Carro in Florence

Be Prepared

Easter Sunday is a public holiday here in Italy – which means that organizations and many of the shops will be closed. That being said, the major sights and museums, excluding those in the Vatican, will be open for public as usual. You can spend your Easter immersing yourself in art and history at the Uffizi in Florence, the Colosseum in Rome, or the Doge’s Palace in Venice among others.

Transport might run on reduced hours, according to which city and town. Rail services between the major cities, as well as the long-route bus lines will still run on Easter Sunday, however it would be best to book these in advance, and to confirm their availability from beforehand.

Italians are usually on holiday themselves during Easter weekend, which also includes Easter Monday – more commonly known as Pasquetta. This means that some of the smaller restaurants and shops might be closed. If you’re planning on eating out on Easter, make sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible as restaurants can easily get fully-booked.

Make the best out of it

Mondays are always tough, especially if it follows a day full of food, wine and celebrations. Some are lucky to still be on holiday on Easter Monday, so make the best out of it. Many businesses and shops might still be closed on Monday, so you might want to plan your day from beforehand. Take a walk around the city, walk off the calories and immerse yourself in its culture. Alternatively, postpone that diet to yet another day, and immerse yourself in Italy’s food culture, once again.

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