Do you like Easter? You can enjoy them the most in Italy. But you should not expect customs, such as Easter Bunnies or hunting Easter eggs and baking hot cross buns. Easter (in Italian Pasqua) in Italy is characterised by religious services in churches all around the country and lavish feasts held in families. Traditional Easter dishes include artichokes, roast lamb and sweet bread called “Colomba”, which in Italian means “dove”.
The second most important religious festival
Italians consider Easter the most important religious festival after Christmas. In Italy, the Holy Week does not start on Easter Sunday, but a week earlier, on Palm Sunday. Services and processions take place throughout the entire week until Easter. There is a solemn Mass on Good Friday, including the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) procession. While the days before Easter include ceremonial processions and Masses, the course of the “Pasqua” itself is determined by rituals and traditions.
There is an Italian saying, “Natale con i suoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi,” which means “(Celebrate) Christmas with your relatives, and Easter with whomever you want.” Italians usually spent Easter Sunday with their families, but Easter Monday is reserved for friends, especially for the younger and single Italians.
La Pasquetta, Monday after Easter Sunday, is celebrated throughout the country as a national holiday. Of course, the most spectacular Easter celebrations take place in the Vatican, when a vast Mass is held at St. Peter’s Square in the morning, followed at noon by the annual papal speech “Urbi et Orbi”. On Good Friday, the Pope celebrates Via Crucis, or the Way of the Cross, in Rome near the Colosseum. Easter Mass is held in every church in Italy; however, the largest and most popular is held in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Easter in Tuscany
The Easter celebrations are very breath-taking and authentic, especially if you spent them in Tuscany. You can enjoy them the most in Florence, the metropolis of the region. On Good Friday, local communities in several small villages organise Easter Passion plays, and processions in historical costumes walk through the streets. On Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, visitors can enjoy shopping and tasting local products at unique food markets.
However, let’s stay in Florence for a while. For 350 years, Easter Sunday is celebrated there with a wild and popular tradition called “Scoppio del Carro” held in front of the Duomo. Every year, the ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Its focus – an elaborate cart – loaded with fireworks winds, together with parades, flag bearers and drummers, through the streets of the historic city centre.
The cart finally stops in front of Santa Maria del Fiore, and there, the shown culminates at 11 o’clock. A flying “colombina” (a dove-shaped rocket symbolising the Holy Spirit) flies out of the cathedral, sets off the cart full of pyrotechnics, and creates an extraordinary fireworks display. In Tuscany, you can see during Easter many fascinating processions inspired by the Passion of Christ.
During this period, many farms and wineries open their doors, and you can visit them and taste local wines. There is a cheerful atmosphere, and rich floral decorations are everywhere, especially in churches. If you plan to visit Tuscany during Easter, we recommend that you read something about all the events in advance so that you can really enjoy this holiday and see the most important event. You don’t have to be in Florence, there is a breath-taking festive atmosphere in all the villages.