5 things you should know about Easter in Italy

Holy Week in Trapani
Holy Week in Trapani photo: easytrapani.com

No, Italians do not organise any egg hunt and they do not decorate eggs, even though these typical English habits fascinate some of us as well.

However, there are plenty of Easter traditions in Italy that go back in the past, not only related to the Christian background. Here’s a list of just some of them:

1. Easter eggs and colomba

Food is one of the leading themes when it comes to Easter (Pasqua in Italian). During the Holy Week (Settimana Santa) the must-try desserts are Easter chocolate eggs and colomba (literally dove). Pastry shops and supermarkets are piled high with them. Invented in Milan around 1930, colomba is a kind of bread, Easter version of the two famous Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro. Colomba’s dough is similar to panettone, but it is topped with pearl sugar and almonds and dove-shaped.

Italian Colomba

Italian colomba


2. Pasqua and Pasquetta

Easter lunch features a never ending series of courses, among which lamb, that for Christians represents Christ. However, there is more food to come on Pasquetta (literally ‘Little Easter’, i.e. Easter Monday). The usual good weather allows families to take short trips and have open air barbecue, a must during Pasquetta.

3. Scoppio del carro

Scoppio del carro (literally ‘the burst of the carriage’) takes place every Easter Sunday in Piazza del Duomo in Florence. During the Mass, the archbishop lights a dove-shaped flare that is connected to an antique carriage. The carriage itself is packed with fireworks. The burst symbolizes the spread of the blessed fire on the city, a tradition dating back to the XI century. The successfull explosion is believed to guarantee a good year ahead.

'Scoppio del carro' in Florence

‘Scoppio del carro’ in Florence

4. Holy Processions

The strict relationship between Italy and Christianity comes out with the several religious ceremonies taking place in towns across Italy during the Holy Week, like the Holy Supper, the Washing of the Feet, the Crucifixion Scene and many more. One of the largest is the Good Friday procession through the streets of Enna, a small town in central Italy. During the procession, in which nearly 2,500 friars wearing their typical cowls take part, people carry the statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus to commemorate the crucifixion.

Holy Week in Enna

Holy Week in Enna

5. Misteri di Trapani

This is the second longest Easter parade in Italy (it comes just after Saint Efisio’s celebrations that last four days), lasting 24 hours. The procession starts on Good Friday in the streets of Trapani (Sicily). It dates back more than 400 hundred years and its origin is Spanish. In fact, it has lots of elements in common with Andalusian ceremonies.  The ‘Misteri‘ (mysteries) are twenty artistic representations of Christ’s Passion and Death. The members of twenty religious group carry wooden sculptures representing biblical scenes and made by artisans in XVII and XVIII century.



colombaEastereaster eggsEnnaholy weekprocessionstrapani
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