Are you trying to decide if a trip to Italy for your Spring break is a good idea?
Or are you have you already booked your tickets?
Italy is beautiful in the spring. The flowers are in bloom, the days are longer, the weather warmer, and there are fewer crowds than in summer or fall.
But there are a few National holidays you need to be aware of.
Why? Because hotels can book up and museums can close.
On top of Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, there are a few other days to know about in April and May.
If you’re prepared for these holidays you won’t have to worry about the museums, grocery stores, and public transit can be closed.
A few always sneak up on me, even after 5 years in Umbria.
And with May 1rst a holiday throughout Europe, a spring breaks around the country are popular with Italians as well.
Palm Sunday, A Reminder Easter Is On The Way
A friend last year visited us over Easter, and on the weekends I took her on a tour of a few Umbrian hilltop towns. On the Sunday before Easter we went to Spoleto for a great day, gelato to die for and one of my favorite churches ever. She kept seeing people walking around with olive branches and didn’t know why.
I first became aware of this important date when I moved to Toronto for a few years. I kept noticing people carrying around branches the week before Easter. I ended up asking a few friends, and they explained that it was Palm Sunday; on the Sunday service before Easter.
It upped my awareness, so while clueless in Toronto; I knew what was going on when I noticed people carrying branches in Umbria. So, when it seems the entire population of a city has an olive branch in their hand or bag, it’s a heads up that Easter is a week away.
How Is Easter Weekend Celebrated?
An Italian Good Friday
This isn’t a National holiday, so many people are still at work. But those who work for the government or in schools have the day off. Schools will have shut on the Thursday before Good Friday. You should still be able to get any shopping done, trains will run as usual, and museums and art galleries open.
Saturday is the day everyone and their dog
Easter Sunday in Italy
One of the most important holidays of the year in Italy. Italians have similar traditions to Canada, there are easter eggs in pastel colors and a great deal of chocolate. Lamb is common for Sunday lunch.
But you won’t find the Easter bunny, it’s the dove that symbolizes Easter in Italy. There is even a cake called La Colomba, or the dove. A sponge cake in the shape of a dove on top there are almonds. It’s a classic breakfast cake in most homes for the month of March and April.
Like many other Christian countries, it’s one of the more popular days to attend church. Like Christmas, it’s the Sunday service that churches will be at full capacity. From Good Friday to Easter Sunday there can be processions through the town squares and along the main roads.
Pasquetta: the Italian tradition to escape Family for your friends
Easter Monday. In Italian Pasqua means Easter, making Pasquetta ‘little Easter’. Easter Sunday is for family and Pasquetta is celebrated with friends, and weather permitting, outside. One of the busiest days of the year for traffic, finding parking is as hopeless as the days leading up to Christmas.
Some Italian friends a few years back decided it was such a lovely day they would drive to San Gimignano. A warm day, it seemed like a great idea to spend the holiday in the beautiful Tuscan town. But they never made it. After hours stuck in traffic on the highway, they never found parking and ended up just turning around and heading home to Perugia.
So I would recommend NOT traveling anywhere on Easter Monday, at least not by car. The traditional spot for people in Perugia to head is the Le Marche coast. But I spend the day lying low, catching up on reading, going for a walk, or having a bbq in the garden with the dog and my niece and nephew.
April 25th: Liberation Day
As a national holiday it’s similar to November 11th for the English and for Canadians.
April 25th is Liberation Day, or La Festa della Liberazione.
From World War II, it’s the day when Italy rids itself of the Nazis, having officially kicked them out in 1945.
April 25th, 1945 was the day the radio announced this to the people. And they proclaimed that all Fascist Leaders would face the death penalty.
Three days later Benito Mussolini was killed. By May 1rst Italy was freed from the Nazis, making April 25th a National holiday of the end of the Fascist regime and Nazi Occupation.
May 1 Is International Workers Day
Called La Festa
A holiday for workers, most things are closed, like stores, museums, restaurants, etc. And, like Easter Monday, most Italians hope for good weather so they can spend the day in the park with a picnic. So stock up on snacks the day before, restaurants and grocery stores can be closed, and enjoy a spring break in Italy outside.
Should you spend your Spring Break in Italy?
Yes, of course you should!
Be sure to book hotels or bed and breakfasts over any of the 6 holidays, in
Italians are also taking trips in Italy and hotels and trains can book up fast. The trains are still running so don’t worry about that, just consider booking any long distance fast trains early so that the prices don’t get too high.
Spring is a great time of year if you aren’t a fan of crowds or the heat. Enjoy the warm sun in the day and have it cool right off at night. Plus, seeing how other cultures celebrate is fun!
What else is happening in Italy in the Spring?
Coming to Umbria, or Italy in the spring is a treat.