Rome is the center of the Catholic world and is also the home of the Pope. You can well imagine that Easter is a special moment for the city.
Yet even those who are not so into religion can enjoy the Easter weekend in the capital of Italy.
Let’s see what to do.
You know, Rome is crowded of tourists all the time. Unexpectedly on Easter weekend it is a little less than usual, but since many famous attractions are closed for holiday, (e.g. the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel), visitors all converge on what remains open.
This year is a lucky year (or unlucky, depending on your point of view). Easter Day falls on the first Sunday of the month, a day on which all the state archaeological sites and museums are free for everyone.
As I said, this means that all tourists will converge on these attractions. However, my opinion is that taking advantage of the free entry is worthy.
To avoid the crowd I suggest you to visit the attractions in the early morning or as close as possible to closing time.
The free attractions are many. Among these are the Colosseum, the Roman Forums, the Palatine Hill, Castel Sant’Angelo and Barberini Palace.
Naturally the heart of Easter in Rome is at the Vatican.
I bet you would visit St. Peter’s Basilica, whether you are a believer or not.
After all, it is one of the largest churches in the world and it’s stunning, especially inside. The huge spaces, the decorations and the beautiful artworks leave everybody speechless. And how can somebody be not excited to go underground and see the foundations, the tombs of the popes and all those places in which Dan Brown set the adventures of Professor Langdom?
On the one hand Easter may mess up your plans. Religious rites make the access to the Basilica of St. Peter limited. So, if you want to visit it, first inform yourself about when it’s really possible.
On the other hand, these rites give you a unique possibility. Participating in the Mass on Easter Sunday, led by the Pope himself, together with thousands of other people, is an astonishing experience even for the non-religious ones. The atmosphere of mysticism, the joy that comes from the crowd after the sacrifices and sorrow of Lent, are truly engaging.
And then, let’s face it, seeing the Pope is an experience itself!
St. Peter’s Square is set up to allow people to follow the Mass and see the Pope. He will appear from the main loggia of the Basilica for a special blessing, called Urbi et Orbi (to the City and to the World). This happens only twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.
The Mass is free, but if you want to sit down you have to book a seat.
Easter Monday in Italy is a holiday and it is called Pasquetta (little Easter).
It’s traditionally dedicated to day-trips and pic-nics. There are many places around Rome that are perfect for your Pasquetta trip.
I suggest you to explore the area of the Castelli Romani, on the Albani hills. It is an area of woods, lakes and charming towns where noble families built beautiful summer residences in the past. Ariccia, Frascati, Castel Gandolfo, Rocca Priora, Marino, Nemi are just some of these towns.
As you can see, Rome offers many different activities during Easter. Religion, folklore, culture, food…I’m sure you will find what suits you best.