Easter Celebrations in Etruria

March 20, 2013 / Events
Northern Lazio, Italy

sutri pasqua
Easter parade in Sutri
Holy Week processions of great intensity are celebrated in many towns of the Etruria/Tuscia region where ancient traditions continue, often enhanced by modern technology.

In Vetralla the story of Christ’s passion is re-enacted by young people in realistic costumes and make up. The procession, directed by Agostino Cecchini, is actually a religious sound and light show with drummers, Roman soldiers on horseback and weeping crowds.

Tuscania – Good Friday procession
Barefoot penitents in hooded robes drag heavy chains in the processions staged in Bagnaia, Orte, Bagnoregio and Tuscania. In the village of Blera candles light the narrow streets where the only sound is that of horse hoofs on the cobblestones and the chanting of litanies that date back hundreds of years.

Saturday is set aside for preparing the Easter feast based on roast lamb and some families still make the traditional cakes known as pizze di Pasqua which will be eaten on Easter Sunday brunch along with sliced meats and hard-boiled eggs, symbolizing the resurrection,

At 5 p.m. on Easter afternoon, Tarquinia, 100 kms north of Rome, is host to the most picturesque celebration-the Resurrection Race when the prized statue of Christ in Glory is carried through the streets to the music of the town band, pealing church bells and colorful confetti being shot from guns.

Nine tall crosses decked with leafy garlands similar to Celtic crosses are carried on an uphill run. If the sun shines and the Christ statue “dances” Cristo che balla during this uphill race, it will be a good year, tradition says.

pasqua vet crowd
pasqua fuori duomo
pasqua dead crist
17th century statue of dead Christ carried in procession
Resurrection Race in Tarquinia
Resurrection Race in Tarquinia

Hunters shoot confetti during the procession
Hunters shoot confetti during the procession

Mary Jane Cryan

by Mary Jane Cryan

Mary Jane is a historian, cruise lecturer, author and publisher of books on Italian history and central Italy has been residing in Italy for half a century.

See her award winning website www.elegantetruria.com and weekly blog posts on 50YearsInItaly for more about central Italy and to order books directly from the author.

3 Responses to “Easter Celebrations in Etruria”

  1. Easter is celebrated with these traditions, not put on for the tourists, but are part of the way of life and have been happening for centuries. So all the events processions, sound and light shows,and the Resurrection Race in Tarquinia are open to all, there is no need for tickets. I do advise to arrive a little early to find a parking space if you are coming from another town. Better yet, stay in a B&B in the center of the town and be in the midst of the celebration.

  2. Mary Jane,
    I’m just getting to your wonderful article…good timing though! Buona Pasqua & Grazie,

  3. Thanks Victoria… today the piazza was decorated with olive trees to recreate the Garden of Gethsemani . The nighttime re-enactment was magical…absolute silence except for the drum beats and the actors’ voices. Torches and candel light only. Very moving.At 11:30 the procession with the band, choir and Jesus statue passed by..a long night for all involved. No need to go to Spain for the Settimana Santa…


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