Easter in Rome sees springtime weather, festive cuisine, and holiday mass led by the pope in the heart of the Vatican—but also, huge crowds. If you find yourself in the Eternal City during Holy Week, here’s how to make the most of your visit.
How is Easter celebrated in Italy?
Easter, or Pasqua, marks a formal but energetic week of prayer in Italy, known as Holy Week, or Settimana Santa. In Rome, the Vatican takes center stage with extravagant processions and papal mass drawings tens of thousands of visitors and pilgrims to St. Peter’s Square. The main event—the pope–led via Crucis ceremony—is held on Good Friday; Easter Sunday is spent with family; and the national holiday Pasquetta (Easter Monday), is typically spent outdoors.
Know what's closed—and what to do instead.
Most tourist attractions keep normal hours during Holy Week, with the exception of the Colosseum, which closes early on Good Friday. Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are public holidays in Italy, so many shops, restaurants, and landmarks, including the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, are closed. This is a good time to explore neighborhoods such as Quartiere Coppede; attend Easter Vigil at St. Peter’s Basilica (be sure to prebook tickets); or tour the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Borghese Gallery, which remain open throughout the weekend.
Book a Vatican tour to see Pope Francis.
With papal masses, addresses, and processions in full swing, it’s easy to check an Easter with the pope off your bucket list. Scope out the nighttime via Crucis ceremony, when the pope leads a torchlit procession from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill, or ditch the crowds on a Vatican tour with guaranteed papal audience tickets, reserved seats, and a great view of the pope’s address.
Skip the line at the Colosseum.
Easter might be a popular time to visit Rome, but it’s easy to work around the crowds when you book skip-the-line tickets. Enjoy priority access to the ancient Colosseum, and consider tacking on fast-track tickets to Raphael’s Rooms and the Sistine Chapel on a sightseeing combo tour.
Experience Pasquetta as the Italians do—outside.
The Monday after Easter is when the serious religious tone lifts and Italians head outdoors to enjoy the spring weather. Take a leisurely guided bike tour around the city to hit famous sights such as the Appian Way, or head out on a day trip to the island of Capri for swimming, hiking, and exploring by the Tyrrhenian Sea.