Rome always entails festivals, fun and food. But in the wake of the recent
papal conclave, this year’s holiday promises not only the usual event-filled
line-up, but also the chance to get a glimpse of the new pope.
Francis I will lead several ceremonies during Easter week, including the papal
masses at St Peter’s Basilica on
Good Friday (5pm on 29 March) and Holy Saturday (8:30 pm on 30 March). Because
these masses are held indoors, you’ll need tickets – obtain them by faxing the Prefecture
of the Papal Household (06-69-885-893),
but be aware that, while free, they may be difficult to get at this late date.
the pope at the Via
Crucis (Stations of the Cross) on Good Friday. Like his predecessors, Pope
Francis will oversee the annual procession that commemorates Christ’s Passion and
he will address the crowds at the Colosseum at 9:15 pm.
The pope will stand on an specially built platform, so while it’s always
advisable to arrive early, latecomers should be able to get a glimpse of him
Sunday (31 March), he’ll hold a 10:15 am mass from St Peter’s
Square – a good option for those who didn’t get tickets to enter the
basilica – and give the Urbi et Orbi, a papal blessing given at Christmas and
Easter, from the central loggia of St
Peter’s Basilica at noon. If you want to get relatively close to the Holy
Father, arrive as early as possible, at least by 8:30 or 9 am.
not every Easter event in Rome is Vatican-centric. The Easter
in 3D festival runs at Piazza
del Popolo until 1 April. Highlights include master chocolatiers demonstrating
the chocolate making process, chocolate sculpting and an exhibit of presepi di Pasqua, or Easter cribs, a
little-known Italian tradition of crèches that show scenes from the Passion and
Resurrection. Admission to Easter in 3D, open daily from 9:30 am to 8 pm, is 7.50
meanwhile, can get their fill of classical concerts during Easter week – —for
free. World-renowned soprano Lucia Aliberti will perform arias by Vivaldi,
Mozart, Puccini and more at the Basilica of the
Holy Apostles on Easter Sunday at 8:30 pm. On Pasquetta, the day after Easter,
there’s an outdoor classical
music concert at Rome’s largest public park, the Villa Borghese. From 3:30 pm to 6 pm,
the Prenestina Philharmonic orchestra will play some of the most famous pieces
by Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Gounod to accompany a variety
of performances, including by world-champion ice skaters Alessandro Spigai and
Anna Remondini (on roller-skates), stilt-walkers and traditional dancers.
full array of events, and although thousands of pilgrims and visitors head to
Rome for Easter, it’s important to remember that Romans themselves
traditionally leave town. (You often hear the phrase “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi,” which means “you spend
Christmas at home with your family, but Easter with whoever you want!”). So
while the Vatican will be crowded, be aware that many smaller restaurants and
shops around the city will be closed.
and museums will remain open throughout Easter weekend, however, including the
Colosseum, Forum and Palatine
(although the archaeological area will close on Good Friday at 2 pm to prepare
for the Via Crucis). The Vatican
Museums and Sistine
Chapel will be closed on both Easter Sunday and Monday.
Amanda Ruggeri is the
Rome Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes revealedrome.com.