As the home of the Vatican, it is no surprise that Easter in Italy is a major event. The celebrations vary from the intensely religious to the carefree celebrations of spring. Catholic masses are conducted by the holiest of men in the Vatican and traditions of amusement take over neighboring towns. The historic Scoppio del Carro leaves worshipers in awe. The celebrations are extremely religious but are conducted on such a scale that members of any school of thought will enjoy them. Italy at Easter time is a spectacle and a dream but there is no Easter bunny in Italy, so don’t expect to be greeted by a sugar-covered chocolate marshmallows when you land.
Easter Sunday, a Day of Celebration
Pasqua, the Italian Easter, sees the people of Italy escape out of doors and enjoy the spring sunshine. People parade the streets holding large statues of Mary or Jesus before them in reverence. Catholic priests travel from home to shop to home offering blessings for good luck. In St. Peter’s Basilica the Pope says a special mass. An average of 100,000 people turn up for this even every year covering the earth beneath the Pope’s balcony. The night before the Pope baptises adults newly converted to Catholicism and calls the word to peace.
In Florence the Archbishop takes part in the Scoppio del Carro or ‘the explosion of the cart.’ Here the solemn services and celebratory chaos are combined as the Archbishop gives his sermon. In a 300 year old ritual, a group of white oxen drag a large cart into the square where he preaches. A holy fire is lit within the cart and as the prayers end the Archbishop releases a rocket shaped like a dove. The cart will explode into a series of colourful fireworks. Hopefully, the bang is a big one, this is a good omen for the coming harvest.
Post-Easter Parties Throughout Italy
The Monday after Easter, La Pasquetta, is an official holiday in Italy and is when the real fun begins. Little Easter, as it is known, is a day for relaxing and having fun with friends. Every town in Italy has their own Pasquetta tradition. Only in Tredozio are the Palio dell’Uovo or egg competitions played while the Ndrezzata dance takes place all over Italy, although especially in its home of Buonopane. In Panicale, Umbria, citizens compete to see who can roll giant wheels of cheese around the city walls using the fewest strokes and the least time!
Explore all the Easter traditions with a tour of Italy!
Attend the Papal mass before heading to Florence on this Italy tour!
Can’t make it to the Easter Mass? Attend a Papal Audience for this unforgettable exerience!
See the grand Sistine Chapel and wonder as you pass through the halls of the Vatican on your own private tour!