Spring in Rome is pure magic. Yes, there can be a bit of rain, but the new season brings longer, sunnier days and happier moods to the Romans who are ready to finally put their puffy jackets away for a few months.
The season is one of holidays – from Rome’s birthday to the widely celebrated Easter festivities. It is also a moment for exploring some of the city’s most special gardens and parks, which burst into bloom with the arrival of spring.
Ready to explore Rome in Spring? Here are 9 things to do during this special season in the Eternal City.
Things to Do in Rome in Spring
- Celebrate Easter. Easter is a moveable feast, which changes dates every year – always falling in spring, sometime between late March and late April. With the Vatican just down the street, Easter is a big deal in Rome and there are several major events and things to do during this time of year. The most notable events begin on Maundy Thursday, where priest all over Rome (and even the Pope at a pre-selected location) wash the feet of the faithful to recall the moment when Christ washed the feet of his disciples the night before his crucifixion. Next comes Good Friday with the Via Crucis, or the Stations of the Cross, at the Colosseum. Finally, Easter Sunday is celebrated with a mass at the Vatican and all over the churches of Rome. Most families plan to have a large lunch together to mark the Easter holiday, so be sure to book ahead if you plan to eat out, and order the lamb – a Roman specialty.
- See the cherry blossoms. Rome might not be Osaka but there is a beautiful display of cherry blossoms in EUR each spring. The trees were a gift from Japan ahead of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, and they still put on quite a display every year in mid to late March when hundreds of tree bloom at once.
- Visit the rose garden. Rome’s municipal Rose Garden opens every year on April 21st and welcomes visitors through mid-June. The gorgeous setting overlooking Circo Massimo is central but tranquil, with flowered walkways and pretty garden corners. Because of the limited opening days per year, this is one of the best things to do in Rome in spring.
- Eat artichokes and vignarola. The changing of the seasons in Rome means new foods arrive in market stalls throughout Rome. The most beloved spring ingredient of all is the artichoke – which can be steamed, fried, or even eaten raw when thinly sliced. For a complete guide, here is where to eat artichokes in Rome. But the best of all the dishes in spring is the vegetable stew known as vignarola. The dish includes peas, fava beans and artichokes all slowly braised together, and can only be made for a few short weeks in late spring when the first peas overlap with the last artichokes of the season.
- Join the festivities for Rome’s birthday. Rome’s birthday falls on April 21st every year. That is supposedly the day that Rome was founded over 2,700 years ago! Museums and attractions often open for free and there are parades and reenactments along the street leading to the Colosseum.
- Pig out on Colomba and giant Easter eggs. Come to Rome with a sweet tooth and you will be pleasantly surprised in spring. Not only are the days warm enough for lots of gelato, seasonal sweets also start to appear in the run-up to Easter. Purchase a huge Italian Easter egg made of chocolate or indulge in a dove-shaped cake known as a colomba, which is topped with almonds and pearl sugar.
- Take advantage of extended hours. Spring in Rome literally brings longer days, which means more hours of light for exploring. However, it is also the time of year when some attractions begin to extend their opening hours. The crowds do start to build up in spring, but you can avoid them by booking things like a night visit to the Colosseum, which are only available starting from about April to October.
- Picnic on Pasquetta and Primo Maggio. Spring in Italy means several holidays including Easter, Easter Monday (Pasquetta), Liberation Day, and Primo Maggio. All of these are national holidays when schools and offices close, and they all tend to coincide with the arrival of better weather. Pasquetta and Primo Maggio, in particular, are days when friends and families head to the countryside to eat in agriturismi or to enjoy a picnic lunch. In fact, there is an Italian saying which goes: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi! In other words: Christmas with your family – and Easter with your friends! Getting out of the city is the main goal, but even if you plan to stay in Rome, you can still join in the tradition by creating your own picnic in the Orange Garden, at Circo Massimo, or take in the green goodness at Villa Pamphilj, to name a few.
- Row a boat. Rome is well positioned for trips to the lake at Castel Gandolfo or the beach at Santa Marinella, but you can also enjoy a charming waterfront setting right inside the city. Head up to Villa Borghese to rent a rowboat. The little laghetto is an amazing setting in springtime when leaves and flowers return to the park and the birds chirp in the trees behind the picturesque temple set on the water’s edge.