Spring holidays in Rome travel guide

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Easter church services, flowers and centuries-old traditions come together on spring holidays in Rome. To watch the Eternal City celebrate one of the most important dates on the calendar, book a spring hotel in Rome.

Spring’s festival of flowers

The coming of spring is celebrated in March and April with the Mostra delle Azalee festival at the Spanish Steps. Remarkably picturesque all year round, in spring the baroque set of steps is decorated with countless pots of vivid pink, white and purple azaleas. Climb from the boat-shaped fountain at the base of the steps up to Trinità dei Monti church at the top for views over Rome to the dome of St Peter’s Basilica.

Holy Week in Rome

Rome gears up for Easter with a week of ceremonies, beginning on Palm Sunday with the Blessing of the Palms, performed by the Pope in St Peter’s Square. There’s a tangible sense of excitement in the city as pilgrims from around the world arrive to experience Holy Week. The celebrations get into full swing on Holy Thursday with a morning Mass in St Peter’s Basilica and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St John Lateran in the afternoon.

Experiencing Easter in Rome

Good Friday begins with a service held by the Pope at St Peter’s Basilica. It’s followed in the evening by one of the most memorable events in Rome when, led by the Pope, the torch-lit Stations of the Cross procession makes its way from the Colosseum to the Palatine Hill, surrounded by the massed candles of onlookers. An Easter Vigil evening Mass is held in the Basilica on Holy Saturday, in preparation for the main event, Easter Sunday. Watch the Sunday morning Mass held in St Peter’s Square and hear the Pope present his personal message to Catholics worldwide. 

Rome Marathon

The third weekend in March sees the city streets transformed for the Rome Marathon. The 42km run begins at the Roman Forum, and follows a circular sightseeing route past St Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, before ending at the Colosseum. It’s a good time to go for a springtime stroll, as the streets in Rome’s historic centre are closed to traffic. If 42km seems far too gruelling, join in the 4km fun run. 

Discovering Easter traditions

Easter food traditions in Rome include soft-boiled eggs for Easter breakfast, roast lamb with spring vegetables like artichokes and asparagus for lunch, sweet bread called colomba pasquale in the shape of a dove and, of course, those shop windows filled with displays of beribboned chocolate Easter eggs. Less edible, specially crafted Easter egg-inspired creations can be admired at the annual Art of Easter Eggs Exhibition, held over Easter at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Milano 9. 

Celebrating Rome’s birthday

On 21 April, Rome celebrates its birthday, Natale di Roma, tracing its founding back to 753BC. The annual festivities include fireworks, street performances and parades across the city, including mock gladiatorial games, chariot races and historic re-enactments at the Circus Maximus and Roman Forum. Free concerts of classical music take place at the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill.