Easter in Italy is celebrated in a similar fashion to Easter in other countries, with the holiday being a time to indulge in delicious meals and spend time with friends and family. To help describe how Italians view this upcoming holiday, there is a popular Italian proverb that says, “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with your family, Easter with whoever you wish), meaning that Easter is a time of enjoyment, relaxation, and celebration of good weather, and can be spent with whoever you please. There are not as many expectations as the more family-oriented Christmas (although, let’s be honest: many Italians do end up spending Easter with their family, because they want to!).
Italians also have another special day, Pasquetta, or “Little Easter”, which is Easter Monday. This is the day to embrace the beautiful weather by taking a day trip out of the city (usually to the countryside or a small town), going to the beach, or having a picnic in a park. The weather is usually gorgeous this time of year – and it certainly is right now! – but rain has been known to occasionally spoil a perfectly good Pasquetta. For the non-Italian students at John Cabot University who are not quite sure how to spend Easter and Pasquetta, check out these suggestions!
Parks in Rome
Villa Pamphili is located on Via Aurelia Antica (right up the Gianicolo hill near JCU’s Guarini Campus). Pamphili is known for its beautiful “Villa Doria Pamphili”, a large yellow mansion in the park surrounded by beautiful gardens. Villa Pamphili is the largest park in Rome, and is perfect for picnics. There are tons of paths to walk on, and it has many open areas to lie in the sun, or possibly play an impromptu game of calcio (soccer).
Villa Borghese is located on Viale del Muro Torto and Via Pinciana (close to Via del Corso, a popular street for shopping). Villa Borghese has been described by Americans as “Rome’s Central Park”, meaning it is a beautiful, large park, open to the public, which sits in the city center. The park has everything from a merry-go-round to a small zoo to rental bikes, making it the perfect place to spend the Easter holiday.
Beaches near Rome
Fregene is located about 20 miles northwest of Rome and is very easy to get to from Trastevere train station, located in Trastevere near both JCU’s Guarini and Tiber campuses. Fregene is a nice beach and is easily accessible, making it a very good option for those who want to soak up the sun this coming weekend.
Santa Marinella is my favorite beach. It is a quick and easy escape from the hot city streets and into the cool Mediterranean Sea. Santa Marinella is also easily reached by Trastevere train station, and has two trains leaving every hour, making it a convenient last-minute day trip. It is a quick 5-minute walk from the train station in Santa Marinella to the sand, and although the private beaches are about a 10-15 euro fee, it is worth it to be on a clean beach close to pizzerias, restaurants, and bars.
In the City
For Easter, there is also, of course, the Vatican. The Vatican is a great traditional way to spend the holiday. The Pope holds a mass on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter), and after mass he leads a candlelit walk, which starts from the Vatican and ends at the Colosseum. Two years ago I spent my Easter standing in St.Peter’s Basilica, listening to the pope speak, and it will probably always be one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.
What to Eat
Last, but not least, I want to make a note of a traditional Italian Easter dessert that you can treat yourself to this coming weekend. The most famous is the colomba, which is a sweet bread made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites, and is shaped like a dove. It is delicious and super traditional, and can be found in bakeries and supermarkets throughout Rome. However, if you are a bit homesick and come from a country where you can’t have Easter without chocolate, you can also find those in grocery stores and bakeries. Don’t expect a bunny shape, though! Italians eat giant hollow chocolate eggs at Easter.
If you want more information on Easter in Rome, check out another JCU blog post: here