When it comes to Easter, Italy is renowned for its celebrations. As a country with strong Catholic traditions, religious holidays from saints’ days to Epiphany are celebrated devotedly and enthusiastically. Given that Easter is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar and it’s hardly surprising that no expense is spared in commemorating it. Although smaller festivities will happen in almost every home up and down the country, it’s the cities that truly pull out all the stops. If you’re heading to Italy this Easter, take a look at our E&V tips for enjoying the celebrations in style.
Although many of the popular sights and tourist attractions in Rome close for the holiday, this gives visitors an opportunity to witness the locals bringing the city to life. Thousands of people visit each year to enjoy the festivities, many of which take place during the Triduum: the three days between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. As you’d expect from the city that surrounds the Holy See, the church plays a crucial role in leading traditional events. The Pope himself presides over a number of special masses, including Good Friday’s sombre torchlight procession from the Colosseum to Monte Palatino, known as the Stations of the Cross. Prayers are held at each station in remembrance of Jesus’ journey to Calvary.
The biggest celebration takes place on Easter Sunday, with a huge open-air mass known at urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) taking place in Saint Peter’s Square. Thousands stand in the square to hear the Pope’s blessing from his balcony, creating a jubilant festival atmosphere. Although it’s free to attend, you’ll usually need to reserve your tickets well in advance.
Things are done a little differently in Tuscany. Florence in particular is well known for a unique celebration known as scoppio del carro (explosion of the cart). This 300-year-old tradition involves parading an elaborately decorated wagon packed with fireworks through the city. White oxen drag the wagon to the piazza by the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, where the Archbishop delivers his Easter mass. Meanwhile, historic flints taken from Jerusalem during the First Crusade are used to kindle a fire, which is also taken to the Basilica.
The Archbishop then uses this fire to light a dove-shaped rocket known as the colombina, which travels down a wire from the altar to collide with the wagon outside, causing it to burst promptly into a flurry of fireworks. After this, there’s a big parade. It might sound bizarre, but if all goes well it’s said to guarantee a year of civic prosperity, which can only be a good thing.
Celebrate Easter the Italian way every year by adding a second home in Italy to your portfolio. With offices throughout Italy, Engel & Völkers can help you to find the ideal property in the perfect region, whether you’re looking for an investment opportunity, a holiday home, or a permanent relocation. We have shops across Tuscany and in the historic centre of Rome, with experienced local agents always happy to assist you with any questions you might have.