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Easter in Rome: What to expect during your visit

Easter in Rome is a time of religious insight, the long-awaited warmth of Spring, plus a unique glimpse into the culture for an epic experience.

While the weather may not always be predictable, Spring in Rome represents bidding farewell to the colder months of Winter.

Thus, the city comes alive in the increasing temperature, and the mantle of vibrant blossoms adorning the street’s trees.

Furthermore, Easter takes place during the Spring, and represents a central holiday in the Eternal City.

Easter in Rome: a time of community

As one of Christianity’s oldest and most revered holidays, Easter therefore plays an integral role in Roman life.

It symbolizes the conclusion of the 40 days of fasting during Lent, whereby people give up a vice in order to show self-restraint, and a closer relationship with God.

Additionally, it’s when communication between the church and the public is at its most visible. While Christmas is undeniably a holy period in Rome, Easter is an opportunity to witness people interacting with their spiritual leaders throughout the city itself.

Even for those of a different faith, or for those who are not religiously-minded, many can feel the sense of expectation and excitement that this April celebration renders.

However, for a city whose major source of industry is tourism, the thought of hanging around during such an important occasion may seem daunting.

Not to worry.

Discover the upcoming Holy Week’s core days to make sure your vacation is a blessing, and not a curse.

A word to the wise: the hype days of Holy Week are called the Triduum, meaning ‘three day period” in Latin. They’re made up of Easter Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. 

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is when the main events start.

In the morning, the Pope presides over the Chrism Mass, or blessing of the holy oils. The evening features what many believe to be the official beginning of the Triduum, with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

The evening of Holy Thursday is also a time of energy and activity, so keep an eye out! You’ll witness pilgrims and secular individuals visiting as many churches as possible to witness the rich decorations of each sepulcher.

Whether devout or curious, this tradition represents an excellent opportunity to explore Rome after the chaos of the day. Rome also has over 1,000 churches nestled in its midst, so this is a great moment to view as many as your feet can handle.

Most restaurants and shops will still be open on Holy Thursday, so you don’t have to dash to the supermarket just yet. Public transportation is still on a normal schedule, too.

Good Friday

Fridays are indeed good, and their reputation continues during an Easter in Rome.

On Good Friday, the Pope will lead one of the holiday’s ultimate highlights and religious processions.

He will embark on the famed Via Crucis, a solemn yet captivating walk that combines the ancient part of the city with the holy proceedings.

Take out your calendar and write this date down, as you’ll be able to witness Pope Francis in action during your Easter in Rome.

This opportunity is because the Via Crucis features the Pope officiating the Fourteen Stations of the Cross from the Colosseum to the Palatine Hill.

Starting at 9pm, the Pope reads a prayer at each station to commemorate the Passion of Christ. At the conclusion of the Via Crucis he will also give his Apostolic Blessing to the crowd.

You do not need tickets to attend the Pope’s procession of the via Crucis at the Coliseum.

Don’t forget that the Colosseum will be closed early due to the Via Crucis procession (8:30am – 2pm).

Most shops and restaurants will still be open, but don’t be surprised at any early closings. While Saturday will feature a similar schedule, It would be best to swing by the supermarket now for groceries.

Easter Saturday Shout-out

While Easter Saturday isn’t part of the Triduum, it deserves special mention (Saturdays always demand respect).

The Pope will officiate mass at 8:30pm in St. Peter’s Basilica with his cardinals and bishops. This is when the church will officially receive any adults that have recently converted to Catholicism.

As with Holy Thursday and Good Friday, most shops and restaurants will be open, albeit with a few early closings. Definitely visit the supermarket in the morning for groceries. If you’re lucky, they’ll still be decently, if not fully, stocked.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is when the Easter holiday culminates on Saint Peter’s Square.

At 10am the Pope will host mass onto the square, and will preside from the iconic central balcony on the facade of the basilica.

At closing, he will also recite his renowned “Urbi et Orbi” blessing (“to the City and to the World), upon all in attendance.

In 2018, Easter Sunday falls on April 1.

If you want to attend church services for Easter in Rome in English, visit AngloInfo for a pretty complete listing.


Althought attending masses It’s free tickets are required!

Click here to visit the Prefecture of the Papal Household, where you can download the form to fill out. You just need to fax it in and wait to hear back. You will get an answer only if you are granted tickets. They will let you know when and where to pick them up. Another option is sending your request through email to the Pontifical North American College   using this address

While tickets for these types of services are free, they still need to be reserved for seating. It’s still possible to attend, however, you’ll end up standing.

Hopefully you still have groceries from earlier in the week, as practically everything will be closed, including the Vatican Museums. Public transport will run on a slower schedule than usual.

Easter Monday Shout-Out

While Mondays are generally feared and vilified, Easter Monday in Rome is nothing to frown at.

In fact, while it’s not part of the Triduum, it has its own nickname. It’s commonly called Pasquetta, meaning Little Easter, and is a glorious bank holiday. Most shops will be closed, or experience early closing including restaurants. This is because many Romans see this day as a fun day, for a picnic in the parks, barbecue or lunch with friends.

If you like, you may attend the Easter Monday address by the Pope in Saint Peter’s Square at noon. It’s free and no tickets are required.

To discover more of how to enjoy your Easter in Rome wonder around our website!

If information about the Via Crucis caught your eye, why not take a Colosseum tour to familiarise yourself with the procession’s settings?

Or how about you get to know more about the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, and why they’re so special to the Pope?

However, if you’ve seen all of the major sites and are hungry to learn more, then don’t hesitate to explore Joy of Rome’s newly added tours!