Italy loves Easter, or Pasqua in local terms. Aside from the deeply religious observation at the many Papal Masses held in Rome, and the explosive tradition of fireworks in Florence, many small towns and regions have long-held traditions for this time of year. Here’s a list of just some of Italy’s most beautiful and unique Easter traditions.
1. The oldest Good Friday procession is held in the small town of Chieti in the Abruzzo region on the east coast of Italy. This ancient town celebrates as one hundred violins play Selecchi’s Miserere – it’s very moving and beautiful.
2. Also in Abruzzo, in the town of Sulmona, people wear green and white for hope and peace and watch as a woman representing the Virgin Mary sheds her black robes for the green of resurrection as doves are released.
3. Enna, in Sicily, has a parade of more than two thousand friars dressed in ancient costumes.
4. Nearby Trapani has possibly the longest Good Friday Parade: it lasts twenty-four hours.
5. In Umbria, towns including Montefalco host plays enacting the Stations of the Cross.
And of course, every church in this country full of churches holds special Easter masses and services on the primary religious days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
More on Monday
And then comes Monday. La Pasquetta, or Easter Monday, is a holiday in Italy and this is when the concerts, dancing, and strange local rituals really begin. Do not expect transport to run to schedule on this day (or any other day in Italy honestly). In the town of Panicale in Umbria, they play a game where they run a wheel of cheese around the city walls. I imagine the cheese is then eaten with a lot of red wine. Italians love to celebrate with food and common Easter gifts are sweet breads and hollow chocolate eggs. And watch out for the golden frog races in Fermignano and the medieval jousting contest in Narni during the week after Easter!
Staying in Italy through April? Read an article about all the other interesting evens taking place in Rome through this month!