This year is the dawn of a new era for the Catholic Church and pilgrims are sure to flock to Rome in greater numbers this year, as new Pope Francis starts his reign. Easter Week is always a perfectly divine time to visit The Eternal City and here’s a list of the Top 5 Things to do for Easter Week in Rome:
1. Papal Siting – Holy Week is prime time for Papal sitings. Normally, the Pontiff has a full schedule at various locales around Rome. The Vatican’s website offers a complete list of events. It is better to avoid the Easter Sunday crush for the mass in Saint Peter’s Square, which will be extra crowded this year for Pope Francis’ first Easter celebration. Better to grab a look at the new Pope during other religious activities this week, such as the symbolic washing of the Apostles’ feet at Holy Thursday Mass and praying the Stations of the Cross inside the Colosseum on Good Friday. (Many Catholic parishes in the U.S. will tell you that the free tickets are like the Holy Grail and while an actual ticket might be hard to come by, admission is not that difficult. Just know that this is Rome and Italians do not line up, they hoard together. Therefore, if you are not claustrophobic, join the hoard, like one of the locals, and push your way in…when in Rome and all that!)
2. Walking Tour – Since the locals have long since left the city by Good Friday afternoon, it’s great to book a specialty walking tour of Rome with less traffic on the streets. Context travel has long been a personal favorite, providing off the beaten path tours such as Underground Rome, led by scholars in small groups.
3. Spa getaway – Many of the major spas, especially those located inside a hotel, are open on Easter Sunday. Therefore, take advantage of the perfect time for a Rome spa break when the crowds are gone and the spa can offer a truly relaxing experience. (NOTE: One of my favorite luxury spas in Rome is the Prince Spa.)
4. Easter Sunday – Dining out for a holiday in Rome can be expensive and you may be tempted to splurge but look around. There are many fine restaurants offering special menus for Easter lunch or dinner and don’t be afraid to eat at a luxury hotel. I tried Tazzio Brasserie in the Boscolo Exedra luxury Hotel in Rome, on the Via Veneto, and was pleasantly surprised and they had a wide variety of Roman specialties. Another favorite is Circus rooftop restaurant at the FortySeven Hotel, excellent menu and with an outdoor, to die for view of the monuments. (Tip for solo diners – if dining alone makes you feel uncomfortable, make an early reservation, such as 1p for lunch or 5 or 6pm for dinner. Not many families or couples dine at those times and you may find it easier. However, know that this is Rome and when an Italian man/waiter sees a woman eating alone, you will get more attention if you just flirt a bit!
5. Get lost – Rome is the perfect city to explore on foot. Get lost in the artsy neighborhood of Trastevere, on the west side of the Tiber River, or stroll near the ancient sites of Foro Romano and the Colosseum. The best time is at night, when you can let your imagination time travel back 2,000 years.
Buon appetito, buon viaggio e Buona Pasqua!