One of the many celebrated traditions in Rome is the feast of Saint Anthony Abbott, or ‘La Festa di Sant’Antonio Abate’ as it’s called locally.  Celebrated on the 17th January it’s the perfect excuse to extend the festivities of the season and banish those January blues after all the excitement of New Years and the Epiphany. To give you a bit of context, originally the Feast of Saint Anthony Abbott stems from the celebration of Anthony, the ‘Father of Monks’, who is believed to be the founder of monarchism. He lived his years in the dessert and dedicated himself to charitable acts and those of piety and assistance. Nowadays the celebration of Saint Anthony Abbott involves street processions, local food stalls and artisan crafts laid in the grounds of the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate and Sant'Eusebio on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. The Church of Sant’Antonio Abate is a medieval 15th century church, nestled around the corner from the grand Santa Maria Maggiore basilica, that used to serve as a hospital and convent church, dedicated to ‘Anthony of Egypt’. From the late 1400s there was a ceremony in honour of Saint Anthony known as the ‘Blessing of the Animals’ that took place at the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate on the 17th January. Unfortunately, as it rose in popularity over the centuries, and after the invention of cars, the livestock was a little endangered as they wandered the grounds of the church. So much so it was decided to move the celebrations around the corner to the piazza outside Sant'Eusebio just to be safe! So whether you’re with or without a pet on your trip to Rome, and especially if you’re an animal lover, make sure you attend this family friendly celebration at the beginning of the year. It’s a good enough reason to continue celebrating for just one more weekend (this year it falls on a Friday) so head up to the Esquiline Hill and explore the ancient churches in the area, participate in the ceremonies and appreciate one of Italy’s longest standing traditions. Don’t forget to take small change so you can make the most of the arts and crafts stalls and take something home as a little reminder!   Make the most of your trip to Rome with an OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass. With free and fast track entry to the Vatican and Museums, as well as top attractions such as the Coliseum and the Capitoline Museums, your holiday itinerary is sorted. Hop on a bus tour and get free travel around the city as well, all included in your three day pass. Click here for more information on how you can make your trip all the more memorable.

Limited time offer

Sign up and save an extra 5% today.