Easter holidays are one of the best times of the year to visit Italy. From North to South, the country is full of events, fairs and other folk and religious traditions.
Easter holidays are one of the best times of the year to visit Italy. The sun shines, trees are in bloom and, from North to South, the country is full of events, fairs and other folk and religious traditions that are without equal in the rest of the World.
Indeed, what is common among regions and towns all different from one another, is the importance of the Holy Week. Easter continues to be the main celebration of Christian majority countries, and Italy is no exception. Moreover, the so-called Bel Paese is also considered to be the land of food, and chocolate is among its specialties. So, how can we forget the production of Easter eggs, such as those of the cioccolatifici of excellence in Piedmont, Emilia Romagna or Umbria?
But let’s go into details, just one step at a time.
The Good Friday marks the day of mourning and sorrow. The towns host the traditional procession, the Via Crucis (lat. Way of Grief), where people participate in the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s painful way to the crucifixion. This rite is always suggestive, as hundreds of torches illuminate the streets. On Easter Eve, the Holy Saturday, Italians use to celebrate the Easter Vigil at the stroke of midnight Sunday. After the lent, they can enjoy the traditional colomba, a dove-shaped dessert with candies. In general, not only on Sunday but during the whole Holy Week, Italy wakes up with its popular rites, including the usual family lunches.
In Friuli Venezia-Giulia, North-East of Italy, a village named Cividale del Friuli gets the prize for the most curious Easter tradition. Indeed, the cividalesi play the ‘gioco del truc‘. This game is about sliding some colored chicken eggs in a sand bucket in order to strike the egg of your opponent. Spectacular are also the bonfires started in the countryside of Bolzano and Rimini. Finally we should not forget the float parade held in Bormio, Lombardy, and ‘La Paquerette‘, the artisanal fair organized in the French-speaking reagion of Val d’Aosta.
In the central Piazza del Duomo of Florence, Tuscany, every year there is the famous Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Float). There, the Archibishop sets fire to a float full of fireworks, starting an incredible pyrothecnic display. Instead, if you are visiting Rome, don’t miss the incredible mix of Roman architecture and Christian rituals by taking part to the Via Crucis in front of the Colosseum. On the other side of the Appennines, in Abruzzo, they use to soak the exquisite food with the holy water.
In Southern Italy the religious tradition is stronger, so locals take part to the ritual processions and start bonfires as a sign of devotion. For example, in the Tyrrenian island of Procida, Campania, and in Taranto, Apulia, the faithful march in pointed hoods with eye-holes in these famous processions. While, if you are in Calabria, you have the chance to listen folk songs in the local Albanian communities’ dialect. Finally, in Sicily, customs are kings, with adults and kids wearing masks of animals, demons and death throughout the island.
In conclusion, there is a little something for everyone. However, do not forget that the Easter Monday (Pasquetta) is also holiday in Italy. So, what’s more traditional than a short field trip with your local friends?