Naples is the ideal destination to spend the Easter holidays. Choosing to spend the days from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday here is a perfect decision thanks to the city's wide choice: art, tradition, food galore, the sea and much more. 

Holy Week is untouchable for Neapolitans. There are several visceral traditions, absolutely unmissable, that run throughout the five days. We try to recount them and present them in order to understand what to do at Easter like a true Neapolitan.

5. Maundy Thursday: mussel soup and the "7 churches"

We start with Maundy Thursday and, as on all other days, religion and food are strongly intertwined. Tradition dictates that no meat should be eaten, as this day symbolises Jesus' Last Supper. The custom leads to mussel soup, a must on this day in Naples. The first appearances of this dish date back to the time of King Ferdinand I of Bourbon, so we are in the 18th century; at that time it was prepared with mussels, chilli oil and tomato sauce. The recipe has undergone various transformations over time but its goodness remains unchanged.

Leaving the food theme for a moment, the other tradition is that of the 'round of the 7 churches', a number symbolising perfection in the past. Tradition dictates a precise itinerary: start at Piazza Dante, head towards Via Toledo and then end the tour at Piazza del Plebiscito. The 7 churches are: San Nicola alla Carità, Spirito Santo, San Liborio alla Pignasecca, Santa Brigida, Madonna delle Grazie, San Ferdinando di Palazzo and San Francesco di Paola. Today there is no constraint, everyone chooses the order they prefer.

4. Good Friday: the Way of the Cross and processions

Good Friday is the day of the Via Crucis, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Therefore, several historical processions take place throughout the city and province. The most characteristic are those that occur in the Sorrento peninsula, where we find the Processione Bianca and the Processione Nera di Sorrento. The former takes place on the evening of Holy Thursday, while the latter on the night of Good Friday.

Good Friday is the day of processions, but also another day when no meat is eaten. If, on the one hand, the preparation of the mega-meals of the weekend begins, with casatielli, pastiere and much more in the oven, on the other hand there is also cooking to be done today. The tradition in Naples is to have codfish on the table. No matter how, whether it is fried, stewed or in tomato sauce, the important thing is that it is there!

3. Holy Saturday: walks and the "casatiello"

Holy Saturday is dedicated to walking, to discovering the streets of the city in anticipation of Easter. The ideal is to wander through the alleys of the historic centre, in the heart of folklore and the warmth of the people. This could be an opportunity to visit the Veiled Christ, a true artistic masterpiece and pride of the city, housed in the Sansevero Chapel Museum.

Holy Saturday is also the day for the opening of casatielli, probably the main delicacy of Neapolitan Easter! It is a savoury pie that has bread as its dough and is stuffed with salami, pepper, pecorino cheese and lard. An authentic bombshell to be savoured. But that's not all, in addition to casatielli there is room for pastries, hard-boiled eggs and the 'fellata' (an appetiser consisting of cold cuts, cheese and broad beans). The advice is to get lost in the alleys and dash into a historic trattoria to taste all this goodness.

2. Easter Sunday: Mass and sumptuous meals

Easter Sunday is the day of the Resurrection of Christ, so it is customary to head to church to attend mass. The advice we give is to take the opportunity to visit the Church of Jesus in the square of the same name, located in the heart of Naples. We are talking about a historical place that welcomes millions of tourists, believers and the curious every year.

Let us not forget the aspect that in Naples is on the borderline between the sacred and the profane: food! At Easter here we continue with what we started on Saturday, so with casatiello, pastiera and fellata, to which we add rich first courses and the second course consisting of lamb with peas. This rich menu absolutely must be tried, so from the Chiesa del Gesù the options are two: either choose a comfortable trattoria in the area, or alternatively, if the weather is fine, head for the seafront and have lunch overlooking the sea.

1. Easter Monday: picnic outdoors between parks, beaches and museums

Once the weekend eating is over, Easter Monday is the day for trips out of doors. Every self-respecting Neapolitan looks forward to this day to organise picnics and outdoor lunches. Leftovers from the weekend are gathered up, backpacks slung over their shoulders, and out you go. The options are the most varied, it all depends on the weather conditions, which often play havoc on this day of the year. If the sun is high and shining, the most popular ideas are parks, or for the more nostalgic of summer, beaches. Otherwise, museums are a convenient place to take shelter.

One of the most popular destinations is the Virgiliano Park, one of the largest green lungs in Naples, located in the Posillipo district. Other convenient alternatives are the Villa Floridiana and the Bosco di Capodimonte. If, on the other hand, the day is a hot and sunny one, the advice is to move to the beaches of Baia and Miseno, so as to sample a bit of off-season summer. Of course, bad luck is always around the corner, so in case of rain, we suggest a trip to the city's numerous museums. The jewel in the crown is the MANN in the Duomo area, but there is no shortage of alternatives in the city's sea of art beauty.

Markets and fairs in Easter 2024

This year Easter falls on the weekend of Sunday 31 March. For the occasion, numerous stands in 14 different squares will be set up in the city centre. The main protagonists are Piazza Dante, Piazza del Gesù, Piazza Mercato and the Santa Chiara courtyard. We are talking about authentic markets where you can find typical local products, Easter eggs and much more. Authentic protagonists will be casatielli, pastiere and tortani, the usual 'mattatori' of every Neapolitan's Easter festivities.

The period in which we will see these markets decorated in the streets of Naples will not be short-lived. They will start on Tuesday 26 March, therefore during Holy Week, and end on Monday 6 May. A little over a month of unmissable stands, where in addition to food, handicrafts will also be on display. Examples include the famous red horns, jewellery, paintings, prints, hats and many other objects related to the city of Naples.