Easter in Italy

Easter in Italy is one of the most important holidays of the year, second only to Christmas. Easter in Italy marks the beginning of the warm weather, enjoying outdoor dining, outdoor activities such as walks in the parks, and taking the children to playgrounds. Some events organized during this most beautiful period include folk festivals, village celebrations, concerts, religious rites, and processions.

Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays in the liturgical calendar. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death on the cross. According to Christian tradition, Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates God’s power over death, thus ensuring eternal life for those who believe in Him. Easter is also a symbol of hope and rebirth. Italy does not take Easter lightly.

The Days Leading up to Easter

The lunar cycle determines the date of Easter, and changes every year. Easter celebrations begin the previous Sunday, known as Palm Sunday, to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, welcomed by the waving of palm leaves. On this day in Italy, it is not uncommon to see families and children returning home from church with blessed olive branches, due to the lack of palm trees in Italy. Thus begins the Holy Week during, which various rituals take place. 

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday commemorates the recurrence of the Last Supper and the Eucharistic celebration. Thousands of reenactments of the Passion of Christ take place all over Italy on Thursday night, as well as reenactments of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Many churches reenact this scene, as well as the Last Supper, on Thursday prior to Easter.

Procession of Maundy Thursday in front of the Catania Cathedral. The current Baroque style building, dedicated to Saint Agatha, dates to the 18th century, rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake of 1693.

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day of the Via Crucis. The Way to the Cross is the 14-step Catholic devotion commemorating Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. Most towns in Italy celebrate a processional pilgrimage and reenactment that ends at the town’s Calvary. First, torches light up the streets, followed by processions that retrace the trial, ordeal, and death of Jesus. Jesus Christ, according to Christian tradition, died on the cross in Jerusalem on Good Friday, and his was body placed in a tomb dug out of the rock. The tomb closed with a large stone, was under the surveillance of Roman soldiers. 

Messina, Sicily – Reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Easter Sunday

On Saturday at midnight the bells announce the Resurrection. Three days after Holy Friday, early in the morning, a group of women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body found the tomb empty. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and told them that Christ had risen from the dead. The women left the tomb with great joy and announced the good news to the apostles. 

Christ’s resurrection is the basis of the Christian faith, demonstrates God’s power over death, and grants eternal life to those who believe in Him. 

Men carrying a statue of Jesus in an Easter celebration parade in the village of Ferla, as spectators look on.

Italian Easter Traditions

The Easter Dove

In Italy, the Colomba di Pasqua is a typical sweet that resembles the dove that flies in circles of peace. The Colomba is the Easter version of the Christmas Panettone, often prepared with raisins, candied orange peel, and an almond glaze. 

The Easter Colomba is enjoyed during the Easter season in Italy.
The Easter Dove, or Colomba Pasquale that is enjoyed on Easter Sunday in Italy.

The Easter Egg

L’uovo di Pasqua is another popular tradition, where eggs are painted or decorated for gifting or playing with. In many parts of Italy, the Easter egg is a gift from godparents to their godchildren. The egg, a symbol of life and hope for fertility, is linked to the meaning of Easter as a celebration of spring and the awakening of nature. Enjoying a chocolate egg on Easter is a must for every child and adult! 

Chocolate Easter eggs in Italy come wrapped in fancy foil, and are enjoyed by children and adults alike. Usually there will be a small toy inside.

Easter Monday / La Pasquetta

Easter Monday, the day after Easter, is a trendy Italian holiday and tradition. The Monday after Easter is called “La Pasquetta” or “Small Easter. This day is reserved for picnics in the mountains, open-air markets, and overall causes to celebrate with more food and friends. While the days leading to Easter can be somber and subdued, and Easter Sunday is for family, La Pasquetta is a joyous day mainly dedicated to friends and get-togethers. 

The picnic table is set and ready for the Easter Monday celebration.

The Blessing of the Easter Meal

In many cultures, Italy is one of them; Easter is celebrated with the blessing of the Easter meal. The blessed food can include meats, especially lamb, which is the meat of choice in Italy for Easter Sunday, hams, bread, egg dishes, and many more. The blessing of the Easter meal is a sacred tradition that holds a special place in the life of many Christian communities.

Easter Superstitions

This being an article on Easter in Italy, some superstitions are also worth mentioning. For example, make sure your table has a red colored egg, which represents hope for good luck. But breaking the egg with a knife instead of your hands is a sign of bad luck. Also, shaving one’s beard or cutting one’s hair on Easter is not advisable, as this could lead to a severe headache! And don’t think about cutting your toenails! The devil would delight in this most distasteful act on Easter Sunday! Please leave it to the Italians! Also, remember to enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs. They represent fertility and good luck! 

Easter Celebrations Around Italy


The explosion of the cart is one of the events not to be missed for Easter in Florence! A pyrotechnic tower is pulled by two pairs of oxen positioned between the city’s symbolic places: the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the Cathedral. 

It occurs at 11:00 AM every Easter Sunday. After the Historical Procession of the Florentine Republic, the fuse of a mechanical dove, or Colombina as they say in Florence, is set on fire from the main altar of the Cathedral and sets fire to the fireworks positioned on the cart, starting the traditional show. So if you ever have the opportunity to visit Florence at Easter time, it’s not to be missed. 


Where to go at Easter in Lombardy? Easy, in Bormio, in the heart of the Lombardy Alps. Here, one of the most ancient Easter traditions of the peninsula takes place. The Pasquali di Bormio is a competition between the city’s districts, to the sound of imposing allegorical floats that parade along the long Via Roma up to the main square. 

In ancient times, it was not floats that paraded but five lambs festively decorated by the residents of each of the five historic districts of Bormio. The lambs are blessed in the church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio. The tradition has evolved over the decades to become a spectacular parade of floats that attracts thousands of tourists and visitors to Bormio every year for Easter. As a result, the Pasquali di Bormio is probably one of Italy’s largest Easter celebrations. 

The Easter celebration in Bormio, Lombardy.
Bormio, Italy – Every year the people of Bormio celebrate Easter by wearing traditional clothes and parading along the streets.


Those aiming to spend Easter in Sicily cannot miss the Procession of the Mysteries of Trapani. This is a tradition that has been going on for 400 years now. Eighteen sculptural groups and two images made of wood, canvas, and glue by the Trapani artisan shops between the 17th and 18th centuries are carried in procession for 24 hours through the streets of Trapani.

The event begins at 2:00 PM on Good Friday in front of the church of the Souls in Purgatory. They represent the passion and death of Christ. The procession moves through the historic center of Trapani for the following 24 hours, stopping at the city’s fishing port during the night. This is one of the most evocative moments of the event. From there, at dawn, the processions gather to return to the Baroque church amidst music and festivities.

Parade of the Mysteries of Trapani in Sicily.
The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani, performed for 300 years, celebrates Easter with parades throughout the week.


Another Sicilian tradition or celebration is the “Madonna Vasa Vasa.” Vasa means kiss in the Sicilian dialect. On Easter Sunday in the town of Modica, there are two processions. One with the statue of the Risen Christ, and the other with the Virgin Mary, clad in back and in mourning for the loss of her Son. Men carry the statues around the town’s main streets until they meet. The Virgin is so content to see her Son rise from the dead that she throws off her black robe to reveal a celestial blue cloak and a red dress underneath. As she leans forward, she gives two kisses on Jesus’ cheeks. Then spectators hear the sound of a band, church bells, and fireworks in celebration. 

Easter tradition in Modica means celebrating in the Vasa Vasa procession.
The Madonna kissing Jesus in the Vasa Vasa Easter celebration in Modica.


Thousands of people will spend the Easter period in Rome to attend one of the most important events in Italy, the Via Crucis at the Colosseum. Celebrated for the first time in 1750 at the behest of Pope Benedict XIV. Guided by the Pontiff, the itinerary of the Via Crucis follows the 14 stages of Jesus’ journey towards the Mount of Calvary. From the condemnation of Pilate to the crucifixion, concluding with his death, and the deposition from the Cross to the crypt, where Jesus is said to have been buried. Each year, the Pope chooses a general theme that is represented in the various stations of the Via Crucis.

Easter in Rome means attending service of the Stations of the Cross by the Colosseum.
The Stations of the Cross in Rome

As you can see, Easter in Italy is a beautiful time of year with much symbolism, tradition, and celebration. However, if you happen to be traveling to Italy during Easter time, remember that it will be crowded.

One Comment

  • I love that so many of the people come out in worship and celebration of our Lord and Savior! Bellissimo! Bravo!

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