Things to Do: Easter in Rome

By Megan Hills

Witness the beating, spiritual heart of the Italian capital with these fantastic things to do this Easter in Rome!

As a deeply Catholic city, it's no surprise that Easter is kind of a big deal in Rome. The city is transformed by blue skies, vibrant florals, religious processions and some of the most moving masses of the year, which makes it one of the best yet busiest times of the year to visit the Italian capital. Whether you're Catholic or not, the city welcomes all people to join in the festivities and here's a few things to do this Easter in Rome!

April, 14, Good Friday

Via Crucis at the Colosseum As one of the most memorable ceremonies of the Catholic holiday, Via Crucis honours Jesus Christ's struggle to carry his own crucifix to his eventual crucifixion through a procession re-enactment. Beginning at the Colosseum at 9:15pm, Pope Francis will start the tradition with an unforgettable mass open to the public before a crucifix is carried to thirteen different locations named the Stations of the Cross. As one of the most moving and sombre rituals of the holiday, it's a great insight into Catholicism for those unfamiliar with its rituals. Visitors hoping to visit the Colosseum for sightseeing purposes may be disappointed however, as the Colosseum's regular tourism services are limited.

Palm Sunday - Easter Sunday

Easter Mass at St Peter’s Basilica Throughout Easter, St Peter's Basilica runs regular masses open to the public and besides Christmas, they're the most subscribed events of the year. Visitors hoping to sit in on its masses are advised to book their free tickets a few months in advance if they want to sit in the cathedral, however people are welcome to sit in St Peter's Square to watch the live broadcast. Key Easter masses led by the Pope include the Celebration of Penitential Rites on March 17 to herald the start of Easter, a Good Friday mass at 5pm on April 14, a vigil on Easter Saturday (April 15) at 8:30pm to welcome new Catholics to the church and finally the grand Easter Sunday mass at 10:15am

April 17, Easter MondayPasquetta

This Easter Monday celebration is one where families come together and leave the bustling city behind for the seaside, countryside or find themselves a tranquil spot in Borghese Park for a picnic. If you're keen on joining in the tradition, Rome's most popular beach Ostia Lido is just a short distance from Piramide - the area's also a fantastic place to explore once you've finished with your feast with the stunning Ostia Antica ruins towering over the area.

April 17, Easter Monday

Pasquetta Fireworks If you're planning on staying in the main Roman drag, it's worth securing a spot on the banks of the River Tiber to catch the breathtaking fireworks display over Castel Sant'Angelo. While the exact time of the show is hard to pin down, it's worth asking tourist information or your hotel concierge for an idea of when the fireworks will start. With Castel Sant'Angelo's statue of Archangel Michael set against a sky of rainbow lights, this picturesque event is one worth breaking out your camera for. Flowers Rome embraces spring and all its blooms during spring, with hundreds of thousands of flowers and a flood of greenery bringing the capital to life. (Last year, over 30,000 tulips, hyacinths and daffodils were used in just one Easter Sunday display.) Even if you don't intend to join the Easter celebrations, the city is still at its most beautiful around this time with the Spanish Steps lined with lilies and rhododendrons and Aventine Hill's Rose Garden in full bloom.

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Rome Neighbourhoods: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore your way around the city with our comprehensive guide to the best of Rome neighbourhoods! The best way to plan your visit to the beautiful Eternal City is to divide your time across the various Rome neighbourhoods, or rione. Each has something unique to offer as this guide, brought to you by the team at the Rome Pass, sets out. Ancient Rome – Celio and Campitelli This is where it all began, the ancient heart of Rome and the Roman Empire. Perhaps the most impressive of the city’s landmarks is here: the Colosseum. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, it dominates the piazza del Colosseo. Commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian and completed in AD 80 by his successor, Titus, it’s the largest amphitheatre ever built, holding between 50,000 and 75,000 spectators in its heyday. It’s now the most visited tourist site in Italy, so booking tickets in advance (online or by phone) is recommended. The standard admission ticket to the Colosseum also includes entry to the neighbouring Palatine and Roman Forum. In Roman mythology, the Palatine is the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. It is now an open-air museum offering a fabulous panorama of the archaeological remains below. In the adjacent Roman Forum – marketplace, business district, civic centre and seat of power of Ancient Rome – you can see the supposed burial place of Romulus, the remains of temples and law courts, and fragments of pottery, mosaics and sculptures. A guided or audio tour will help you get the best out of the site. Had your fill of history? Take a stroll to the leafy residential area of Aventine Hill just beyond the Circus Maximus and take in the fantastic panoramic city views. Centro storico The Centro storico (historic centre) comprises a number of different rione and contains some of the most iconic of Rome’s sights. The piazza Navona is at its heart, a lively square with street artists, buskers and plenty of cafés. Built over Emperor Domitian’s stadium in the 15th century, it features some of the city’s most beautiful Baroque art and architecture, such as the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and three splendid fountains. You can also take a fascinating underground tour of the remains of the original stadium. Just to the east is the Pantheon. Originally built around 25BC as a temple to all of the Roman gods, it was given to Pope Boniface IV in 609. The Pantheon has functioned as a Christian church to St Mary and the Martyrs ever since, with mass held every week. This continued usage has helped keep the ancient building in an excellent state of repair. Further east again is the Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the city. A dense and impressive mass of sculpture and carving, the fountain is over 26 metres high and ejects 80,000 cubic metres of water every day. Legend has it that a visitor who throws a coin into the fountain is guaranteed to return to the Eternal City. A stroll northwards through the narrow lanes will take you to the Scalina Spagna, or Spanish Steps. Built in the 1720s, the 138 steps are a mixture of curves and straight flights, vistas and terraces overlooked by the Trinità dei Monti church. The steps were a popular gathering place for artists and poets in the 18th century, and there are still artists plying their trade at the top, ready to paint visitors’ portraits. At the foot of the steps is the house where John Keats lived and died, now a museum dedicated to the English Romantic poets. This area around the Via dei Condotti is also where you’ll find some of Rome’s most upmarket boutiques, restaurants and hotels. Vatican City & Prati Technically, Vatican City is a sovereign state, but for sightseeing purposes it is just another of the Rome neighbourhoods. Official residence of the Pope for centuries, it is also home to eleven museums and, of course, Michelangelo’s beautifully painted Sistine Chapel. There are no paintings in St Peter’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic church in Italy, but plenty of statues and some breathtaking architecture. Michelangelo’s sculpture, Pietà, is at the head of the right nave and the only work he ever signed. If you have a head for heights, you can climb the 551 steps to the top of the dome and be rewarded with fabulous rooftop views. Catholic or not, mass in St Peter’s Basilica is an experience not to be missed. It is celebrated Monday to Saturday in the various chapels of the Basilica. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Rome at the same time as the Pope himself, you can even book tickets (free) for a Papal Mass either in the Basilica or St Peter’s Square. Don’t stay indoors the whole time though: take a tour of the Vatican Gardens. A wonderful place for quiet meditation since 1279, the gardens now cover a large proportion of the site and contain grottoes, fountains, monuments and the heliport. Advance booking only, the tour lasts two hours. If visiting the Vatican is the main purpose of your trip to Rome, you’d be wise to stay in Prati, just to the east. Affordable hotels, good shopping and plenty of decent places to eat all within walking distance of Vatican City, and there are two metro stops with good links to the Vatican as well. La bellezza❤️ #rome #italy #25aprile #trastevere A post shared by @ines_l88 on Apr 25, 2017 at 4:02am PDT Trastevere A medieval working-class district, Trastevere has gradually been gentrified since the 1970s and is now very popular with visitors. Wander the cobblestoned streets, relax in the University’s botanic gardens and watch the world go by from the steps of the fountain in the piazza di Santa Maria. As you’d expect from one of the more up-and-coming Rome neighbourhoods, there are some excellent restaurants and bars and a really buzzing nightlife. It’s also a good place for funky boutiques, plus there is a huge flea market on Sundays at Porta Portese selling everything from antiques and books to clothes.
Megan Hills

Festival of the Epiphany

If you want to spend the Christmas period in Rome and do it the Italian way, forget about Santa Claus and a roast turkey with trimmings on the 25th December. Hold out until the 6th January when the Italians celebrate their traditions on The Festival of the Epiphany. The Epiphany, translated from Ancient Greek to mean ‘manifestation of the divinity’, celebrates the three wise men who brought gifts for Baby Jesus. Nowadays, it’s more a reason for children to put on their best behaviour in the hope that ‘La Befana’ rewards them with presents and treats on the evening of the 5th January. La Befana is a fairytale character, believed to be an old woman with a broomstick who visits children’s homes on the eve of the Epiphany. She is said to reward them with treats if they’ve been good, or a lump of coal if they have behaved badly. Much like the tradition of Santa Claus in many ways, Italian families will also leave this festive character a small glass of wine and a plate of food to help her on her journey. The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated throughout Italy and in Rome with a bank holiday, where organised festivities and parades march down the street in celebration of the season and where some people even dress up as La Befana herself. If you’ve got a Santa outfit hidden away, bring yours along as well and join in; Father Christmas is still very much part of the celebrations! We suggest you head to the Vatican City to watch the medieval parade down the avenue up to St Peter’s Basilica, where you can admire the over-the-top antique costumes and symbolic gifts. If you’re after something a little more edifying, however, just arrive a bit earlier for the morning mass delivered by The Pope himself. If you’re planning on visiting Rome during this period, you will be immersed in the rich culture and vibrant celebrations of this longstanding tradition. We can promise you’ll leave feeling a little more festive and perhaps with even happier children!
Go City Expert

How to Celebrate New Year’s in Rome

New Year’s is a cause for celebration across the globe and most people like to enjoy themselves with copious amounts of food, drink and merriment. In Rome, it’s no different. For Capodanno and the Festa di San Silvestro on the 31st December, Romans celebrate a culmination of the past year, their achievements and milestones and they look forward to what the New Year may bring. Traditionally families and friends get together for a big feast of lentils and cotechino, a large spiced sausage, all washed down with spumante and Prosecco. Nowadays, as well as this longstanding tradition, people flock to the streets of Rome where musicians play, people dance and traditional processions take place for everyone to enjoy. At the stroke of midnight firework displays will fill the sky to mark the height of the celebrations. Piazza del Popolo holds the biggest party, where tourists and locals gather to hear the sounds of Italian rock bands and to celebrate in style. The Roman Forum up to the Coliseum hosts a free concert where many go to take in the breath-taking views of the famous landmarks lit up in the Christmas lights, not to mention to enjoy a slap up meal at one of the area’s local restaurants beforehand. St Peter’s Square and Villa Borghese are also go-to destinations for the best local traditions and alternative concerts, staged over the evening of the 31st December. If you really want to make your experience all the more memorable, make sure you’ve had enough rest before you set out to celebrate the Festa di San Silvestro, as Romans are notorious for staying up well into the early hours of New Year’s Day!
Go City Expert

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