Holidays in Rome

Holidays in Rome are big events. 

easter vatican crowds in st peters squareWhile Easter is arguably Rome's biggest holiday, with thousands of people packing St Peter's Square, there are many more holidays to celebrate through the year

Whether religious or ancient Roman holidays, each Roman holiday celebrates life, death and everything in between in an elaborate way.

Holidays in Rome - When and what the Romans celebrate each year

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Rome when the city celebrates one of its many holidays you’re in for a treat.

Everyone joins in with holidays in Rome, and for locals and visitors alike these holidays are a chance to come together and celebrate in a way only Rome knows how.

On this page, we'll be exploring these Roman holidays:

New Year's Day

When you’re in Rome on New Year’s Day you’ll find crowds of people out and about in the city.

January 1 is a public holiday, and many museums, shops and restaurants will be will be closed.

san giovanni laterano facadeThe basilica of St John in Lateran is just one of the many churches that are open on New Year's Day

However, most churches will be open, including the major basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore, St Paul Outside the Walls and St John in Lateran, and the city will be quite busy with locals enjoying their first passeggiata of the year!

If you head down to the Tiber River at noon, you’ll see some brave souls jumping from the Ponte Cavour into the cold water, a tradition begun by "Mr. OK" in 1946.

There is a lot more to discover about New Year's Day in Rome - take a look at our page here for all the details you need!


The Christmas period comes to an end on January 6 in much of Europe with the Epiphany or Day of the Kings.

However, more than the three wise men, Italy celebrates La Befana, a witch-like character who flies around on her broom on the eve of the Epiphany leaving treats for good children and lumps of coal for bad children.

Valentine's Day

Roma, Amor: it’s no surprise that Rome gets busy around Valentine’s Day.

The Trevi Fountain has become a popular place for people to propose to their partner. 

st valentine skullMany people make the pilgrimage to see the skull of Saint Valentine around his day of celebration

Many of these tourists are probably unaware that Saint Valentine's skull is kept as a relic in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which makes for an unusual romantic thing to do.


For Catholics, the days before Lent are for indulging and enjoying themselves before the start of the Lenten period.

Moving with the Easter dates, Carnival always ends 40 days before Easter, so takes place at different points in February-March each year.

frappe and castagnole carnival treats on displayThese special Carnival pastries are only available for a short period so don't miss out!

Roman Carnevale was quite elaborate in the past, with large celebrations on Piazza Farnese (near Campo de' Fiori), Piazza Navona and through the city center. 

Bullfights and horse races have long since been abolished, and nowadays Carnival is more about the kids in Rome.

You'll see plenty of families walking around with their children dressed up in costumes, throwing confetti and enjoying the yummy Carnival treats!

Festa della Donna

International Women's Day, held annually on March 8, is an important holiday in Italy.

Mimosa flowers are associated with the holiday and are traditionally given to women on this day.

Nothing is closed, but it is a day to remember the impact of women all over the world.

mimosa flowers at spanish stepsThese lovely yellow mimosa flowers are everywhere in early March

Ides of March

Celebrated on the 15th of March, the Ides of March is a public festival commemorating a not-so-festive event: the assassination of Julius Caesar.

roman forum caesars grave with flowersThis spot in the Roman Forum is where Caesar's body was cremated, not where he died, but people bring flowers here every year

Annually a re-enactment of the assassination of Caesar is held on the very spot he was killed, Largo di Torre Argentina (not the Roman Forum).

The ruins of four ancient Roman temples remain as silent witnesses to the world-changing events of this day.

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Easter is one of the most important dates on the Catholic calendar.

On Good Friday there is a procession led by the Pope which finishes at the Colosseum.

Romans traditionally have a huge family lunch on Easter Sunday, with plenty of Easter treats and chocolate eggs for children.

colombe cakes for easter on displayThese dove-shaped cakes, similar to Christmas Panettone, are called Colombe and are made only for Easter

Of course, going to mass is part of the tradition and the Pope blesses the city and the world in his 'Urbi et Orbi' address.

Easter Monday is called Pasquetta, or 'little Easter' and is a public holiday. 

For Romans, this day marks the beginning of spring: what better way to celebrate than with a picnic in the park?

Discover lots more information about what to expect and what to do over the Easter holidays in Rome on our dedicated page

Rome's Birthday

Perhaps the most important of all Roman festivals: on April 21 the Eternal City celebrates its birthday.

Legend says that it was on the exact date of April 21 of 753 BCE, after being raised by a she-wolf and killing his brother, Romulus founded a settlement and called it Rome.

capitoline museums she wolf in great hallThe iconic image of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus is part of the Rome founding mythology

Today, at various sites across the city, including the Circus Maximus, you’ll see parades of people dressed as historical figures celebrating the founding day.

Want to know more about Romulus and the founding of Rome?

Check out our page all about Rome's birthday

Liberation Day

On April 25 every year Italy celebrates its liberation from Fascism during the Second World War, and it’s in Rome that the focus of these remembrance celebrations is held. 

wreath on the vittoriano main stepsThe grand monument in the center of Rome is the location for many official ceremonies

The official ceremony of Liberation Day is held at the Vittoriano monument, where the president of Italy lays flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

There is also generally a parade down Via dei Fori Imperiali, and many state-run museums are open for free.

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May Day

May Day or Labor Day, Festa dei Lavoratori in Italian, on May 1 is a public holiday in Italy.

For this reason, and with May bringing pleasant weather, many Italians take the opportunity to travel around Italy so you can expect Rome to be busy.

fori imperiali sunset in mayThe weather in Rome in May is absolutely perfect, but this does mean lots of people are visiting this time of year

A large concert featuring famous Italian musicians and groups takes place in Rome on May Day every year, in front of the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano.

Festa della Repubblica

Every year, on June 2, Italy celebrates the abolishing of their monarchy with the Festa Della Repubblica.

It's a day of celebrations and remembrance of this important decision to become a republic.

italian flag close up on complesso vittorianoThere are a lot of Italian flags everywhere around Festa della Repubblica!

Celebrations take place all over Italy, but the biggest are in Rome.

It is worth finding a good spot to watch the 'Frecce' planes fly over the Vittoriano (the Gianicolo Hill is also a good spot) and leave a Tricolore smoke trail in the sky.

St Peter and Paul's Day

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, both executed and buried in Rome, are the patron Saints of the city.

They are celebrated on June 29 with religious ceremonies and fireworks.


The very first emperor of Ancient Rome, Augustus, made August 1 a public holiday, a well-deserved day of rest for the workers on the fields (an ancient country festival, so to say).

The date shifted to the 15th of August to coincide with the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and it was Mussolini who again declared it a public holiday.

colosseum flowers summerWhile the Colosseum looks beautiful in the August sunshine, you'll find very few Romans staying in the city this time of year

Since then, Italians have taken their summer vacation around mid August.

Romans leave the boiling city at least for several days in search of a cool breeze in the mountains or at the seaside.

No matter when you visit Rome, there are five things you should always bring:

A hat

If you're visiting Rome in the fall, you'll be happy to have a rain hat with you.

Comfortable shoes

Even if it's a bit warm in the beginning of fall, I'd suggest close-toed shoes. Even better if they are waterproof, just in case.

No matter what, they must be comfortable for all the walking you will do.

A scarf

Romans wear scarves year-round.

In autumn, you will be glad you have a scarf for chilly days and evenings.

I suggest a wool scarf for warmth.

A backpack

A pickpocket-proof backpack is the ideal way to sight-see.

It leaves your hands free for picture-taking, holding onto rails, and riding a bike or scooter if you decide to rent one.

Travel/trip insurance

I know this is not a thing to pack per se, but it's such an important part of travel these days.

If you think you are already covered by your credit card's insurance, you should double check the fine print. It's not likely to cover what you really need when travelling.

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All Saints Day and All Souls Day

All Saints Day, or Ognissanti, on November 1 celebrates all the Catholic Saints and is a public holiday in Italy.

The same goes for the Giorno dei Morti or All Souls Day, on November 2.

Both are public holidays with many businesses closed and Roman people usually have a day off.

protestant cemetery pyramid with catThe Non-Catholic cemetery is just one of the many cemeteries visited on this holiday

The ancient Romans already celebrated their ancestors during the nine days of Parentalia, a latin festival, and the increased popularity of Halloween has not changed the meaning of these days.

While not the type of holiday for massive celebrations, there are special masses and Italians remember their loved ones by visiting cemeteries.

National Unity and Armed Forces Day

Held on November 4, National Unity Day and Armed Forces Day (Giorno dell'Unità Nazionale) celebrates the end of World War I and the continuing efforts of Italy’s armed forces around the world.

first level of the vittoriano monumentThe Vittoriano monument is at the heart of these celebrations

A ceremony is held at the Altare della Patria (also known as the Vittoriano Monument) in Rome.

If you missed the fly-by of the Air Force for the Festa della Repubblica, now is your chance to admire the trail of green, white and red in the sky.

La Festa dell'Immacolata Concezione

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8 and celebrates the conception of the Virgin Mary.

La Festa dell'Immacolata marks the beginning of the Christmas period in Italy.

The (literal) highlight of the day is when a Roman firefighter climbs to the top of the Column of the Immaculate Conception at Piazza di Spagna and adorns the Virgin with flowers that have been blessed by the Pope.

mignanelli madonna christmas wreathThe wreath stays on top of the statue for the whole festive season, which officially starts December 8

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.


If you’re lucky enough to spend Christmas in Rome, you’ll see the city in a different light as it’s all trimmed up for the festive season.

There is a Christmas market at Piazza Navona and churches are decked out with charming nativity scenes.

christmas lights romeThe city is covered in lights at Christmas time

It’s lovely to just walk around town and soak up the atmosphere and see the city looking so twinkly.

Everything will be closed on Christmas Day for the holidays and also on the day after.

New Year's Eve

On New Year’s Eve, Rome becomes one big party and whether you like a long leisurely meal with family and friends, or to party in bars and clubs, the city has everything you need.

Most Italians eat at home or with friends, so restaurants aren’t busy, but do book ahead to be sure of a table.

There’s always a large concert in Circus Maximus, and fireworks displays start at midnight.

You can either watch them from the busy streets, or rooftop bars all over town.

Wondering what to expect from celebrating New Year's Eve in Rome?

Check out our full guide here!

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