A visit to Italy during the Easter holidays is an event not to miss: from north to south, cities and towns throughout the Peninsula are celebrating, with processions, religious rites, holy representations, sagre or food fairs, and folkloristic traditions that center around the Passion of the Christ. 

Holy Week marks several important events for the Christian faith: the Last Supper, the Washing of the Disciples’ Feet, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the kiss of Judas, the Calvary, the death of Christ, Deposition, Burial and Resurrection. 

Maundy Thursday (this year on March 28th) is the evening dedicated to the Eucharistic Feast, with the tomb visits that take place in every parish. The Sepolcri are a reproduction of the tomb of Christ, in remembrance of The Last Supper, and all the community take part to the creation of mosaics made with flowers and colorful petals…

Good Friday, then, is the day for mourning and sorrow, while the city streets are illuminated with torches that procession along the Stations of the Cross. 
The Via Crucis (from the Latin for Way or Stations of the Cross – also known as Via Dolorosa or Way of Grief) is a rite in which the Catholic Church reconstructs and commemorates Christ’s “Painful Way” that ends in the Crucifixion on Golgotha. In recent times, the spiritual itinerary of the Via Crucis added the Via Lucis (Way of Light), celebrating the Glorious Mysteries: the events of the life of Christ from Pentecost, or Whit Sunday, up to the Resurrection.

On Black Saturday, at midnight, church bells announce the Resurrection – moment of great joy that finally finds its culmination on Sunday. After the long phase of Lent, the faithful eat their Easter lamb, and enjoy candy eggs and dove-shaped sweets. The egg, symbol of fertility, of life and its renewal, is strongly linked to Easter and the beginning of spring, the blooming of nature.

Easter celebrations throughout the Bel Paese are many and diverse, some dating back hundreds of years and including not only religious events but also food festivals..

We’ve found some of the most spectacular:

SICILY: The Procession of Mysteries in Trapani & Piana degli Albanesi in Palermo

The Procession of the Mysteries – one of the oldest and longest procession in Italy. The first notice of this procession dates back to the XVI C, when the island was under the Spanish domination. The “mysteries” are the artistic representations of the death and passion of Christ. These 20 masterpieces realized by local artisans are carried during the procession along the streets of the village.

Piana degli Albanesi, a small village a few kilometers from Palermo hosts a suggestive Easter Greek-Byzantine Rite. A unique cultural experience dating back to ancient times and part of the Sicilian tradition. Suggestive vestments, folklore events, songs and fascinating liturgies make it a real treasure to be known, participate and spread: a true religious and cultural heritage. Easter Sunday (Pashkët): it is really the very special day in which religion, folklore and Albanian identity are condensed all in one function. Among songs and rituals in ancient Greek, the magnificent procession of women will parade in the famous traditional costume, until you reach the church of Madonna Odigitria in the square where the blessing (bekimi) of the red eggs is given by the papas followed by distribution to the faithful and tourists that animate the village.

ABRUZZO: The Running Madonna, Medieval Festival in Roccasalegna castle & Talami Parade

In Sulmona, on Easter Sunday you can assist to the Madonna che scappa in piazza (Running Madonna), a narrative and very emotional evocation of the encounter between Mary and the risen Christ. This is the most famous Easter event of the region with more than 10.000 people observing this tradition every year. 

On Angel’s Monday, in the Medieval Castle of Roccascalegna , you can take part to a festival with demonstration of medieval fights, hunting with falconry and theatrical performances that will bring you directly into the magical atmospheres of the Middle Ages.

While in the village of Orsogna you can experience the “Talami”, one of the most popular events of Easter time in Abruzzo. The Feast, a breathtaking parade of seven floats carrying sacred images inspired from the Bible, takes place every year on the Tuesday after Easter and thousands of people are drawn by this show combining theatre with folk traditions. Enjoy then a collective lunch in the main square with a traditional dish: “Gnuccune aristufate”(a special kind of pasta)

You can experience traditional Easter celebrations with our small group tours, to discover the region’s off-the-beaten-track secrets and atmosphere during Easter time.

Discover some of our Easter Tours:

Italian Easter Experience: Sicily

Italian Easter Experience: Abruzzo