Easter in Italy

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
The Spanish Steps in Rome

The Spanish Steps in Rome

Like Spain and their Easter celebrations, Italy melds religious traditions and celebrations but with culinary delights as well making it an occasion to celebrate with family or take advantage of the warm spring weather to travel and explore something new.

Being the centre of Christianity a lot of emphasis is placed on the religious aspects of Easter. However visitors to Italy at this time can enjoy delicious Easter eggs of all shapes and sizes, Easter Colomba (dove) cake and seasonal dishes such as young lamb and artichokes.

So if you are holidaying in Italy over Easter what events can you enjoy?

Trento , 10 – 21 April. Trento, famous for its Christmas market, has now launched an Easter Market. From 10 to 21 April, the Piazza Duomo will be teeming with stalls selling handicrafts, chocolate eggs, colomba cakes and other delicacies all linked to Easter in the Dolomites.




Procida Island, Gulf of Naples, 18 April. The Good Friday procession on the Island of Procida in the Gulf of Naples is a tradition that started in the late 17th century. The Confraternita dei Turchini (group of island men dressed in sky blue cloaks) carry, in a procession, allegorical floats representing the various stages of the Cross from the oldest part of Procida to the port of Marina Grande. The floats are hand-made each year by the Confraternita’s men, the statue of the dying Christ is carried last to close the procession which is marked by sound of drums and trumpets.

Alghero – Easter Week . Alghero celebrates Holy Week according to the rites of an ancient Spanish tradition dating back to 1501. The celebrations open on Tuesday with the “Dimas Sant ‘with the procession of Sorrowful Mysteries, on Thursday “Dijous Sant” the Via Crucis is held, on Friday “Divendres Sant” there is the rite of “desclavamant “, the taking down of the body of Christ from the cross and the deposition. The “Dissabte Sant “, Saturday is the holy day of the vigil until Easter Sunday, when the Risen Christ will meet the Virgin among doves and fireworks.

Sulmona, Abruzzo, Easter Day 20 April. The Madonna che Scappa (the Dashing Madonna) takes place every year on the morning of Easter Day in the Piazza Garibaldi which will be crowded with people. The members of the Confraternita Santa Maria di Loreto, carry the statues of St Peter and St John in a procession to the Church of St Philip. The church’s door opens and the statue of the Virgin Mary is carried out, wearing a back cloak, a sign of mourning. Half way, she “meets” the statue of her Son, she “dashes” towards him, letting her cloak fall, revealing a bright green dress. (website only in Italian.)

Valmontone – Rome – 18 April. The procession on Good Friday, has taken a typically theatrical role with performances drawing inspiration from medieval times. The “Sacred Representation “of Valmontone refers to this style and is over a century old. The actors recite texts based on the Holy Scriptures. The story starts from the New Testament, continues with the reconstruction of the Nativity and follows the events of Christ’s life. The Via Crucis and deposition from the Cross concludes the procession.

Vatican City – On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will give the traditional blessing from St Peter’s Basilica. Expect over a hundred thousand people to join you listening to him. The website will give you the timings for the day but the text is only in Italian.


Sacred Fire of Holy Saturday © Pecold Shutterstock.com

Explosion of the wagon © Pecold Shutterstock.com

Florence Easter Sunday –20 April. Tradition says that during the first Crusade of 1096 the Florentine knight Pazzo de ‘Pazzi was the first man who planted the banner of the Cross on battlements of Jerusalem and, as a gift, he received some fragments of the Holy Sepulchre. Upon his return to Florence the stones were used to start the Sacred Fire of Holy Saturday, and were paraded through the city as homage to it in a richly decorated chariot. Nowadays, on Easter Sunday a large wagon is pulled by white oxen in a procession in the streets of the centre of Florence to the front of the cathedral.

Barile – Potenza – Good Friday. In Barile, the Via Crucis is interpreted with great intensity by its actors. Along the route of the Way of the Cross there are several stages built to represent the various episodes of the Passion of Christ. Alongside the authentic re-constructions of the Gospel stories, there suddenly also appear fantasy figures related to our ancestral fears. The “Negro” representing a stranger, the “Gypsy” character a dark symbol of wealth that hides evil and danger are very important figures of popular collective atonement.

If you are travelling to Sicily there you will find different traditions. Here are four of the most popularly visited Easter traditions.


Trapani: © Daniele Colombo

Trapani: © Daniele Colombo

Trapani“The Procession of the Mysteries” – Good Friday. The Procession of the Mysteries is held in Trapani from 2pm on Good Friday and continues for almost twenty-four hours until the Saturday. It is the longest religious event in Italy and one of the oldest. This event consists of the transport of 20 groups of statues (Sacred Mysteries) representing the various stages of the Via Crucis through the city. The statues were made between the 17th and 18th centuries.

Modica – Ragusa – “MARONNE vasa vasa” – Easter Sunday. On Easter morning in Modica, a spectacular procession takes place with two parades that walk along the streets of Ragusa with statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Adrano-Catania – “The Devils” – Easter Sunday . On Easter Sunday in Adrano a representation called “The Devil” takes place every year. This is a folklore event were Good and Evil are represented; the Devils are led by Lucifer on one side and Paradise on the other. This representation is focused on the triumph of Good and of Light in the world.

Prizzi-Palermo – “The abballu de li diavuli” – Easter Sunday.  “The Abballu de daivuli” is a representation of grotesque and frightening masks of zinc dressed with red robes, the devils, which run thourgh the village on Easter Sunday trying to trap as many souls as possible until the afternoon, when after the meeting of the Virgin Mary with the Risen Christ the devils ill be harnessed and carried by angels to the Virgin Mary.

Much of the information here is courtesy of the Italian tourist board. More information can be found on Italy by clicking here.

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