Travel: Easter in Rome, Italy

There's more than just Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate Rome’s significance and contribution to western civilization. Whether thanks to Audrey Hepburn, HBO or the pope, Rome has always been a place of pilgrimage. Easter attracts thousands celebrating the Christian holiday and otherwise enjoying this classic city in spring. While the main events may be Good Friday’s Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum and Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, there’s plenty more to explore.

Cacio e Pepe
Rome has a plethora of tourist-trap restos, but there are more than a few eatery gems if you’re willing to look. This trattoria, away from the rabble, boasts a traditional menu best enjoyed outside. Via Avezzana 11

Piazza del Popolo
It’s said to be one of the best people-watching spots in the city (which, for Rome, says a lot) — that is, if you can take your eyes off the 17th-century churches and Egyptian obelisk, among other sights. Tridente nr Piazza del Popolo

Still one of Rome’s top attractions after 2,000 years, it is also the site of Good Friday’s Way of the Cross evening procession, where thousands flock to enjoy the spectacle and hear a papal address and blessing of the crowd. Piazza del Colosseo

Borghese Gallery
With a collection that boasts works by Bernini, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Raphael, this is the one gallery not to miss. It also might be the least crowded, as admission is granted at two-hour intervals, so call ahead to book an entry time. Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5

Vespa tours
Have a real “Roman holiday” — see the city on the back of a classic Vespa or in a vintage Fiat 500. Nerone Tours offers four-hour daytime and three-hour night tours around the city.

The last of Rome’s ancient architecture still in one piece, the Pantheon was originally built in 27 BC and is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever constructed. Piazza della Rotonda

Vatican museums
Navigate the crowds into Vatican City and take in one of the world’s finest collections. It’s a huge complex made up of two palaces — the Vatican Palace and the Belvedere Palace — joined by a pair of long galleries, and includes the Sistine Chapel. Viale Vaticano