Easter is a significant holiday in Italy. In some ways it’s more important than Christmas. Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after spring equinox. (Yes, we are confused too) In 2013, Easter falls on Sunday, March 31. Pasqua is the correct name for Easter, if you don’t want to sound like a local. ).
Here are five things you can expect if you plan to visit Italy during the Easter holidays.
Tourists will flood the cities, but many Italians will be there on vacation.
Many Italians use this long weekend to escape the city and head to the countryside, sea or mountains. Meanwhile, a lot of foreigners are doing exactly the same thing this week–vacationing!–so sights will be crowded.
The official start of the “high season” in most cities and destinations is Easter week. However, it’s less crowded than the peak season in June and July. Plan your trip and know how to tackle the lines at places such as the Colosseum.
Major museums and attractions will be open on Easter Sunday, and Monday. However, many shops and restaurants are closed.
Good news! Most of the major attractions will be open on Easter. This includes the Colosseum, Doge’s Palace, and Uffizi in Florence. However, the Uffizi closes every Monday including Easter Monday. The Vatican is an exception, with its museums, including the Sistine Chapel, closing on Sunday and Monday.
Many small, family-run restaurants and shops will close due to the fact that so many Italians are on Easter weekend vacation. You should book your Sunday and Monday meals as soon as you can, because the few good restaurants will be booked up.
Many religious festivals and processions will take place, even in small towns.
Easter is a wonderful time to explore the culture and traditions of Italy. A procession that winds through small towns with everyone involved is something you don’t need to experience if you are not Catholic.
Easter sweets and traditional Easter dishes will be featured on the menus of restaurants and bakeries.
It’s the lamb that is Italy’s most important Easter food tradition. It comes in two varieties. The first is grilled lamb (abbacchio), and it will be found on almost every Italian restaurant’s menu. Almond paste is the second! Yep, that’s right. A little lamb made from marzipan can be found in Sicily and other Sicilian bakeries.
A marzipan lamb is not the only Easter sweet that you will find. These chocolate eggs are very popular, especially when they’re hollow and have a prize inside. A cake called colomba da Pasqua is also a cake that looks like a dove, and it’s known as colomba di Pasqua. It’s a wonderful time to be in Italy, but also to eat in Italy.
You want to celebrate Easter like an Italian? Picnic on Pasquetta
Despite the expression “Natale coni tuoi. Pasqua con chi vuoi”, Easter Sunday is often spent with loved ones, and Easter Monday (or “Pasquetta”) is with friends.
Most Italians will attempt to leave town if they aren’t on vacation. They may even plan to have a picnic with large groups of friends.