Easter in Italy: 5 Things You Have to Know

February 25, 2013

Easter in Italy is a major holiday—in some ways, it’s even more important than Christmas! Celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (yes, we’re confused too), Easter in 2013 falls on Sunday, March 31. (And if you want to sound like a local, don’t call it Easter… call it Pasqua!).

If you’re going to be in Italy during the Easter holidays, here are 5 things to expect!

The cities will be full of tourists—but many Italians will be on vacation

Lots of Italians escape to the countryside over the Easter holidays!

Lots of Italians escape to the countryside over the Easter holidays!

Because it’s a long weekend, lots of Italians take the opportunity to get out of town, heading to the countryside, the sea, or the mountains. Meanwhile, a lot of foreigners are doing exactly the same thing this week—vacationing!—so sights will be crowded.

In most major cities and destinations, in fact, Easter week is the official start of “high” season (although don’t worry, it’s still less crowded than it will be at the season’s peak, in June and July!). So plan your trip accordingly, and have a plan for how you’ll tackle lines at places like the Colosseum!

Most major museums and sights will be open on Easter Sunday and Monday, but many shops and restaurants will be closed

Architecture of the palazzo ducale, Venezia

The Doge’s Palace, just one sight that will be open in Italy on both Easter Sunday and Monday

The good news: Most major sights will be open on Easter. That includes the Colosseum in Rome, the Doge’s Palace in Venice, and the Uffizi in Florence (although the Uffizi is closed every Monday, including Easter Monday). Of course, the big exception is the Vatican, whose museums (including the Sistine Chapel) will close both Sunday and Monday.

That said, because so many Italians go on vacation during Easter weekend, many of the smaller, family-run shops and restaurants will be closed. So make sure you book your meals for Sunday and Monday as far in advance as possible, as the few (good) restaurants that are open will get booked up.

There will be lots of religious processions and festivals, including in the small towns

Easter is a great time to experience the culture of Italy, including not only some of its food traditions (more on that in a moment), but its religious traditions, too. You don’t have to be Catholic yourself to enjoy the spectacle of a procession winding through a tiny town, with seemingly everyone participating!

Restaurant menus, and bakeries, will be full of traditional Easter dishes and sweets

Colomba di Pasquale, a traditional Italian Easter cake

Colomba di Pasquale, a traditional Easter cake in Italy

When it comes to food, if there’s any one major Easter tradition in Italy, it’s lamb. And it comes in two forms. The first: grilled lamb (abbacchio), which will be on pretty much every menu in any restaurant in Italy worth its salt. The second form: almond paste! Yep, that’s right. In Sicily (and Sicilian bakeries across the country), you can get a little lamb made out of marzipan.

That said, a marzipan lamb is hardly the only Easter sweet you’ll find. Chocolate eggs are popular here (especially when hollow, and with a prize inside!). So is a cake called colomba di Pasqua, a cake shaped like a dove. It’s a great time to not only be in Italy… but be eating in Italy!

Want to really Easter like an Italian? Then picnic on Pasquetta

Despite the common phrase “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with your family, Easter with whoever you want), Easter Sunday is usually spent with family, while Easter Monday, or “Pasquetta,” is spent with friends.

If they’re not on vacation already, most Italians will try to get out of town at least for this day, often by having a picnic somewhere with a big group of friends!

by Walks of Italy

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12 responses to “Easter in Italy: 5 Things You Have to Know”

  1. Gloria Grove says:

    Great article–really loved it. Might put a link from our site to this page at Easter if you don’t mind.

  2. botafogo says:

    Very nice article ! Abruzzo offer tipical easter recipes and traditional itineraries. you have to try !!

    agriturismo in abruzzo – Easter holidays

  3. Mariam says:

    Im planning a 10 day trip to Italy in April and it just so happens that my two day trip to Florence falls on Easter weekend (5th -7th April). Will all major sights like the Uffizi be closed on those day? I’m really hoping my trip to Florence isn’t a waste!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Mariam,

      Your trip to Florence will definitely not be a waste – Easter in Italy is a very special time of year with some amazing celebrations. In particular Florence has its “Scoppio del Carro” or Explosion of the Cart, a wonderful Easter Day Parade that ends with fireworks! You can read more about it here. In any case, the Uffizi Gallery will remain open both Sunday and Monday, from 8:15 a.m. – 7 p.m. Have a great trip!

  4. Connie says:

    I plan to go to Milan during Easter holiday, the big shopping mall will be closed during that time? What is your suggestions if I hv three days in Milan.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Connie,

      Shops and the outlet malls surrounding Milan are usually closed on Easter, but they are typically open on the day after Easter. Known as “Pasquetta” this is an Italian holiday off work and school, so shopping is common! As for what to do, here are some of our favorite things to do in Milan in the spring.

  5. Keryn says:


    We will be in Florence over Easter this year. I have seen many conflicting websites determining what is open and what is not. Do you happen to know if the major attractions/museums will be closed on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday?

    Thank you!

  6. Karen Aumond says:

    We will arrive on Good Friday 2017. Are there any organized tours or suggestions for seeing the Via Cruces. When will your VIP Sistine Chapel (eg without the crowds) open for reservations in April. Lastly, do you have any tips for getting tickets to the Necropolis? I’ve requested them from the Scavi office but have not heard back. Is it better to call them?
    Thank you!!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Karen,

      Unfortunately the Scavi office often has quite a wait time, which is why it’s good that you contacted them months in advance. You could always try calling as well, though we’re not sure how lucky you’ll get with English receivers (we assume there will be some, but you never know…) Send questions about our tours directly to [email protected] to get more and detailed information. Hope to see you on one of them!

  7. Nice tips. Very nice place to visit with kids. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. Me and my son will come to Italy in August and definitely go to these places and will definitely follow all your tips.

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