Easter 2018 in Florence and around Tuscany

Events, English eucharists, traditional lunches

Mary Gray
March 22, 2018 - 15:27

Although the icy temperatures wouldn’t have you believe it, it’s technically spring, which in Florence means the unofficial ushering-in of the tourist season, vaguely pagan-inspired pyrotechnics in piazza Duomo, that delightful dove-shaped cake known as the colomba and chocolate eggs galore. Translation: Easter weekend is around the corner! From the religious rites of the Christian Holy Week to museum openings and myriad traditions, here is a roundup of what to do on this busy weekend in the Renaissance city. (We'll update this article as more information is confirmed, so check back frequently).

Piazza Duomo is the site of some of Florence's main Easter-morning
| Ph. Marco Badiani


Holy Week religious services in English

St. James Church (Episcopalian). Via B. Rucellai 9, tel. 055/294417
Palm Sunday, March 25: Liturgy of the Palms and Eucharist, 9am & 11am
Mon, Tues, Wed in Holy Week, March 26-28: Eucharist, 6.30pm
Maundy Thursday, March 29: 
Eucharist, foot washing and stripping of the altar, 6.30pm
Good Friday, March 30: Liturgy and veneration of the cross, 12noon and 6.30pm
Holy Saturday, March 31: Great Vigil and First Mass of Easter, 6.30pm, followed by Agape reception feast
Easter Sunday, April 1: Eucharist at 9am and 11am. After the 11am service, a reception and Easter egg hunt will take place. 

St. Mark's English Church
 (Anglican). Via Maggio 16, tel. 055/294764

Palm Sunday, March 25: Sung High Mass with palm procession, 10.30am
Tuesday, March 27: Stations of the Cross, 5.30pm
Wednesday, March 28:
Sung compline, 9pm
Maundy Thursday, March 29:
Mass, 7pm, followed by the Watch until 10pm
Good Friday, March 30: Three Hours Devotion, 12noon-3pm; Good Friday concert, 9pm
Holy Saturday, March 31: Vigil and first mass of the Resurrection, 8pm
Easter Sunday, April 1: Sung high mass, 10.30am

Santi Apostoli
(Catholic). Piazza del Limbo 1, tel. 339/2425734
Palm Sunday, March 25: Procession and mass, 10.15am
Holy Thursday, March 29:
Mass, 6pm
Good Friday, March 30: Celebration of the Passion (reading of the passion, adoration of the cross, Communion), 5pm
Holy Saturday, March 31: Easter vigil, 7pm
Easter Sunday, April 1: Mass, 10.30am 
International Christian Fellowship of Florence. Via dei Biffi 1, tel. 055/285148
Thursday, March 29: Special Easter week Prayer and Praise service, 7pm
Easter Sunday, April 1: Pre-service prayer gathering, 9.30am; Easter Sunday service, 10.15am, with children's service for ages 3 to 10

Don't see your church listed? Contact [email protected] to share your Easter week service schedule.

Pageantry in piazza Duomo: the Scoppio del Carro

Arguably Florence's most famous Easter-morning ritual, the Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart) always draws a crowd. Every year the "Brindellone"—an intricate, colorful, fireworks-filled cart stored in a warehouse on via il Prato during the "off-season"—is paraded through downtown Florence, arriving in front of Santa Maria del Fiore in piazza del Duomo at approximately 10am. Ceremonious celebration continues outdoors until a crucial moment in the cathedral mass, when a dove-shaped rocket called the colombina is lit and set off into the square. The culmination comes when the colombina hits the cart and puts the pyrotechnics into motion. Get to piazza del Duomo extra early if you want to catch more than camera phones and smoke remnants in your line of vision!


Museums: special hours and activities throughout Easter weekend

Civic museums
Over the long Easter weekend, the MUS.E. association and Florence’s civic museums will host a range of activities, guided visits and workshops geared at schoolchildren and their families, taking place in Palazzo Vecchio (pictured), Santa Maria Novella and the Museo Bardini. Visits and activities are held in Italian; for inquiries, detailed times and to make reservations, contact [email protected] or call 055.2768224.

Palazzo Vecchio. Guided visits (1 hr 15') to the Palazzo for ages 10 and up; secret passageway visits (1 hr 15') for children and adults, offered 10am, 11.30am, 2.30pm and 4pm daily; special tours (1 hr 15') with "Giorgio Vasari" or "Isabella de Reinoso" as guides; life at the Medici court laboratories for children aged 4-10
Santa Maria Novella. Guided visits (1 hr 15') to the church for ages 10 and up; visits (1 hr 15') to the Grand Cloister, the Chapel of the Pope and the convent; "Discovering Santa Maria Novella" workshops (1 hr 15') for children ages 6-10
Museo Bardini. Guided visits (1 hr 15') to the museum for ages 10 and up, offered 11am and 12.30pm on Easter Sunday (April 1) and Pasquetta (April 2)


State museums
Although normally closed on Mondays, traditionally most of Florence's state museums are open on Pasquetta, Easter Monday, which this year lands on April 2. At publication of this article, the following openings have been confirmed.

Accademia Gallery
. 8.15am-6.50pm on Easter (April 1) and Pasquetta (April 2)
Uffizi Gallery. 8.15am-6.50pm on Easter and Pasquetta. Ticket office closes at 6.05pm. 
Palazzo Pitti museums. 8.15am-6.50pm on Easter; closed on Pasquetta except for Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens. 8.15am-6.30pm on Easter and Pasquetta. Last admission one hour before closing.


Where to leisurely lunch around Tuscany

Villa La Massa, Candeli, Bagno a Ripoli

Il Verrocchio restaurant at Villa La Massa

Create new and unmistakably Tuscan Easter memories at the magnificent Villa La Massa (via della Massa 24, Firenze Candeli), a short eight kilometers from downtown Florence. Diners will enjoy a plentiful Easter lunch at Il Verrochio restaurant, which has a vaulted dining hall and a terrace with views of the Arno River. On the menu: king prawns with spring chicory and pod cream; homemade pecorino and pumpkin-filled tortello; whipped ice with asparagus tips and mullet bottarga; lamb chop with Dijon mustard; beef fillet with aromatic herbs; lemon semifreddo with wild berries; Colomba cake with warm vanilla sauce; chocolate Easter eggs; coffee and assorted pastries. 95 euro total. To book, email [email protected] or call 055 626 11.


Castello di Vicchiomaggio, Greve in Chianti

View of Castello di Vicchiomaggio

Spend Resurrection Sunday in prime Chianti country at Castello di Vicchiomaggio (via Vicchiomaggio 4, Greve in Chianti), where the ample menu is à la carte and the views and vino borderline-holy. Mains include roasted lamb (an Easter staple) with vegetables, braised beef in Vin Santo, and stuffed roasted rabbit, while the first-course choices include mostly vegetarian-friendly options. Book a table for lunch or dinner on Easter Sunday; stay the night and stick around town on Monday for Greve in Chianti's spring marketplace. To book, call 055.854079.

Castello di Gargonza, Monte San Savino (AR)

View of Castello di Gargonza

Make the most of the holiday inside a medieval marvel. Castello di Gargonza and its elegant yet family-friendly restaurant will host a traditional Easter meal chock-full of regional favorites like panina aretina (this time with goat cheese flan and melt-in-your-mouth sbriciolona), plus fried veggie balls, cabbage spring rolls, chicken liver pate, a choice of primi (asparagus risotto and wild boar pappardelle), and a rosemary beef option with roast potatoes if lamb isn’t your bag. Wash it all down with DOCG reds from the Chianti Colli Fiorentini. At a modest 43 euro per person (and half price for children, who can also enjoy an Easter egg hunt), it’s an accessible way to celebrate spring in style. To book, email [email protected] or call 0575 847021.




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