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Italy Q&A: Traveling in Italy During Easter

I’m going to answer a few of the questions I’ve gotten via email here on the Italy Logue, so you can all benefit from the information. Here’s the first in the Italy Q&A series. Janine asks:

I’m heading to Rome for Easter. I arrive Thursday late morning and departing late Monday evening. I’ve booked myself a ticket to the Vatican on Saturday (hoping to skip the queues as that’s what it claimed!!)… But I’ve heard lots of conflicting reports… on Rome being “open” at this time. I mean I’m not too concerned as I’m sure I’ll enjoy walking around taking photos of no doubt stunning architecture… but also I don’t want to starve!! So I’m hoping that there will be some restaurants and shops open over the four days? Could you tell me if I’ll be starving during my stay – or will there be restaurants open?

Thanks for the question, Janine! Rome for Easter – you’re heading for the mothership at one of the high points of its year! What a vacation. I was just wandering through St. Peter’s the other day, and they were already setting up for the multitude of festivities that will take place there over the Settimana Santa, or Holy Week. What a time to be in Rome!

And rest assured, there will be restaurants open. While Easter is a major holiday here in Italy, it’s also a major tourist holiday in Rome. Many of the regular shops and restaurants may be closed, but you will most certainly not starve. You may have to walk a few extra blocks to find a restaurant that looks like your kind of place, but that just means you’ve earned a few extra bites of pasta or scoops of gelato, right? The worst case scenario is that you have to make do with the restaurants in the big chain hotels (the ones that are catering primarily to wealthy foreign tourists), because they’ll be open serving their own guests.

And I’m very curious to know if your advance booking of a tour at the Vatican gets you past all the lines – I hope you’ll let me know how it goes after your trip, and if you’d recommend the tour company you booked with, let me know!