Easter in Rome: To Go or Not to Go?

St. Peter’s Basilica– Vatican City. Photo courtesy of Madelyn Walthall.

Easter in Rome may seem like a match made in heaven. Literally. Being the Catholic capital of the world, Holy Week is highly celebrated here. That being said, the already tourist-heavy city becomes even more flooded with people from all over the world. 

As my first semester in Rome is coming to a close, I’ve now lived through three seasons in the Eternal city. As holidays come and go and summer is steadily approaching, it is clear that Rome is becoming progressively more busy. 

With Easter weekend in the rearview mirror, there are some things to consider if the opportunity to visit ever arises. First of course, keep in mind the influx of visitors from inside and outside of Italy. Even two weeks prior to Easter Sunday, there was a noticeable amount of non-locals crowding the already crowded streets in Trastevere and all the way into the center of Rome. 

With this, restaurants that usually always have a seat waiting for you become overbooked, narrow streets become sardine tins and historical monuments become unrecognizable. Holy Week in Rome promises so many events and processions, however the extreme crowds make enjoying the time here difficult.

In my own experience, I’ve noticed that the large amounts of tourists in the city center and near all of the main tourist attractions have exceeded the amount that usually inhabit these popular areas. For example, during classes at the Pantheon or the Imperial Forum, classmates and I often find our lectures interrupted by a lost tourist, or a family taking pictures with the nearest statue. Just a week before Easter Sunday, we took a trip to Vatican city. A line that should have taken only half an hour instead took over an hour just to get inside of St. Peter’s Basilica. 

So is Easter in Rome really worth the trip? In my opinion, no. Especially coming all the way from the United States, going to Rome during one of the heaviest travel seasons is not worth the time or money. Of course, if Easter in Rome is a must for you, you will find that you can see everything you intend to see, even with the large crowds. 

If the long lines and large groups of people don’t sound all that appealing, my solution is to come during Rome’s off-season, which is roughly from Jan. right until a few weeks before the Easter celebrations take place. With this, you’ll be able to get all of the sightseeing done with minimal wait times and less tourists anxiously crowding around to see the next big monument.

Written By: Madelyn Walthall