Eastertime in Rome is really special. Very crowded with tourists, but it is beautiful nonetheless. The trees are growing buds, purple and yellow flowers are blooming and the weather is starting to warm up. People are wearing pastel colors, a nice change from black, and are carrying dove shaped cakes. Along with these cakes, the Italians dine on artichokes and lamb for their Easter meal, while the children find out what surprises are inside their chocolate eggs.
Most students attending Temple Rome live in the residence in the Prati neighborhood, a thirty minute walk to campus and a five minute walk to Vatican City. The Prati neighborhood was especially busy with tourists dining in between views of St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museum. I attempted to avoid the area, but was able to pass through Vatican City on my walks to and from Trastevere without too much trouble. Many students were able to attend the Easter Mass presented by Pope Francesco early that morning.
On Good Friday, I ventured over to the Colosseum to see the Stations of the Cross evening service, a spectacular sight of the crowd holding candles and praying in different languages. People from around the world gathered by the ancient ruins to listen to the prayers and closing statement by the Pope. I recommend going because this ceremony is stunning; the night sky and Colosseum make a beautiful backdrop for the candle light cross and the papal tent. It was a vision I will always remember. That, and the memory of a nun racing aggressively to grab the metro seat next to me afterwards. No mercy. Reminds me of my past Catholic school days.
Although I did not make it to the Papal Mass on Easter, I had a lovely Sunday with friends. We traveled to the edge of Testaccio to enjoy the sunshine in an orange grove park that overlooks Rome–beautiful views of the city, and plenty of greenspace to layout a blanket and enjoy the day. Following our relaxation, I prepared a dish to bring to a potluck I coordinated with friends. Potlucks are the best way to enjoy a meal with a large group of people (there were about fourteen of us). Plenty of pasta, veggies, wine and desserts to share. Someone even fittingly brought cookies with the Pope’s face on them.
Being away from family and familiar traditions on Easter (or any holiday) can be difficult, but celebrating in Rome was very special for me. I loved how the city seemed to slow down and brighten up on this holy week, and how rare an opportunity it is to be in such a gorgeous city for any holiday. Perhaps later on in life I will be able to celebrate Easter in Rome again, visit Vatican City and partake in another large potluck with friends. Buona Pasqua- Happy Easter- from Roma.