There is no time of year where Rome is quiet, a city with such history, romance and charm will always be measured in degrees of busy. Over Easter, however, you’ll probably be surprised to hear that Rome is not as crowded as most people expect. We’ve broken down all the essential info for visiting Rome over the Easter weekend. Whether you are a religious pilgrim, a wanna-be local or here to see all the attractions, we’ve got you covered.
The religious pilgrimage
We’ve got to begin with the Religious Pilgrim. People travel from all around the globe to be a part of the Easter celebrations at the Vatican. It is a grand event with processions and services that occur each day over the Easter weekend, of course, Pope Francis will be at every one of them. So, here is the Agenda for the main religious ceremonies and how to attend them. All of the events are free, but you may have to order a free ticket online in advance, so take a look at the Vatican website. Oh, and get there early, really early to get a good spot!
Good Friday: The Good Friday Liturgy will be held in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5.pm.
Later in the evening is the “Via Crucis” a procession that takes place at the Colosseum and moves down the Roman Forum to Palatine Hill. The Pope will commemorate the journey Jesus made while holding the cross, stopping at 14 locations that represent the Stations of the Cross. This is an extremely popular event so you can’t miss it. You won’t need tickets, but thousands of people attend, so you’ll only see it close up and personal if you arrive several hours before it kicks off at 21.15.
Easter Saturday also known as Holy Saturday, is when the Easter Vigil is held by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. You can head down to St. Peter’s Square to be a part of it.
Easter Sunday: Easter Sunday Mass will be at St. Peter’s Basilica as is traditional, it is free, but you have to book tickets well in advance to attend. Then at 12.00, the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” will take place. You don’t need tickets to participate in this, so you may decide to go early and settle in to save your spot.
Easter Monday: you can attend the Regina Caeli, it usually takes place on Sundays, but over Easter, it’ll happen on the Monday at 12.00 in St Peter’s Square.
The tourist traveler
Because most of the events happening relate to the Vatican, you might just find that you have more space to galivant around the city to see the headliners. According to a local boutique hotel owner, you will probably find that room prices are actually higher the weeks before and after Easter but not over the Easter weekend itself. This is apparently because the religious pilgrims tend to stay in religious housing and hostels. So, it will be easy enough to find accommodation that isn’t wildly overpriced.
In terms of attractions, you are, again, in luck. You’ll be delighted to hear that most if not all of the major attractions will still be open over the Easter weekend in Rome. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Borghese Gallery and more will be open but here is our advice:
Book everything in advance. This way, you’ll know of any changes to opening times, and you can plan your days around activities. This goes for visiting attractions to making reservations at restaurants.
You’ll need to check every attraction you want to see and their opening hour. The Colosseum will close early on Good Friday for the Via Crucis. Otherwise, it will be open on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Take a look at our Rome Tours or Colosseum Tours if you’d like to book an excellent skip-the-line tour.
The local approach
Rome locals, whether they are religious or not, have some lovely Easter weekend traditions, many of which don’t involve mass or the enormous crowds that gather in the city. The locals tend to keep it somewhat low key, and there are only two main activities that define the weekend, both involve food. So, we probably could have called this section: “A Foodie’s Easter.”
On Easter, Sunday Italians go all out for breakfast, and it's not what you’d expect! The meal is made up of eggs, salami and other savory delights like artichoke omelets, colored boiled eggs and coratella with artichokes. For those with a sweet tooth, there is a delicious “beaten” pizza, it’s almost like a soft sponge cake, and it pairs beautifully with jam or chocolate- maybe an Easter egg on top?
On Easter Monday Italians typically go for a picnic in a piazza, on the beach or in the countryside. You could pack up a delicious lunch and head for the Borghese Gardens or hop on a train to a small town outside of the city. This way you’ll get to experience a little more of Italy than if you stayed in Rome the whole time or treat yourself to one of our day trips, how does the Amalfi Coast or Tuscany sound?
A little Easter Vocab
BUONA PASQUA! – Happy Easter
VENERDI SANTO- Good Friday
PASQUETTA- Easter Monday
UOVO DI CIOCCOLATTA- Easter Egg
Il CONIGLIETTO PASQUALE- Easter Bunny
Il PAPA- The Pope
AUGURI DI BUONA PASQUA- Best wishes for Easter