Easter in Cortona

15 Apr

In cities and towns all over Italy, religious processions are held during Easter week. Many churches have large statues and crosses that are carried on the shoulders of locals in Holy Week processions through city streets.

Last night, Good Friday, Cortona held its annual Procession of the Stations of the Cross. Signs in English were all over town to remind visitors that this is a solemn event.


The procession began at 9 PM at the Church of Spirito Santo, a 17th-century church built just outside the medieval walls of Cortona. For those of you familiar with Cortona, picture the church beyond the bottom of steep Via Guelfa and out the wall’s entrance. Noting this is important because the route the procession takes is pretty amazing…either steeply uphill or down, and very rarely flat. (*See below for more of route.)

We waited for the procession at the Church of Saint Francis with others who had lined the steps.


The Stations of the Cross were being read over a loud-speaker as the procession moved through parts of town.



Local children were as involved as their parents.




A group of strong women carried the statue of the Blessed Mother.


After reaching its highest point, the procession came down Via S. Margherita toward Via Nazionale.


The final destination was Piazza Republicca, where the statues were placed on platforms.



At about 10:30 PM, religious dignitaries gathered at the top of the Municipio and a local bishop led all in prayer before the choir sang.


A year ago, Len and I were in Trapani, Sicily, for their incredible Misteri di Trapani, a 24 hour procession. It was large and dramatic, with musicians and choirs accompanying each heavy statue carried on the shoulders of dozens of men. But Trapani is flat, and Cortona is anything but. So, while Cortona’s procession was smaller, with less music and drama, it was nonetheless incredible to see the procession maneuver through the ancient town. Whether elaborate or small, dramatic or simple, it is each town’s commitment to carrying out tradition that matters.

Today, Saturday, Cortona is bustling with people, here to participate in the Easter weekend. I’m told there is a midnight mass tonight at the Duomo, and masses at various times and churches tomorrow.

The smells of special Easter breads and pastries fill the spring air, and tomorrow most Italians will gather around large lunches with their families and friends to celebrate Easter, as will we.

In Italy, the Monday after Easter is also a holiday called Pasquetta. Though not a religious holiday, Pasquetta is another day for family and friends to gather and also spend some relaxing time outdoors. It was introduced by the government after World War II.

Wherever your plans may take you, a gathering big or small,
I wish you a very Happy Easter – Buona Pasqua to all!


*Note: for those wanting more on the route,  I believe it was up Via Guelfa, connecting to Via Ghini, up the very steep Via Maffei to San Francesco Church, on past the old hospital to Via S. Margherita, down through Piazza Garibaldi to Via Nazionale and finally ending in Piazza Republicca.


13 Responses to “Easter in Cortona”

  1. Ishita April 15, 2017 at 1:55 PM #

    Love how every city/town/village in Italy celebrates Eastern in a different way. Sentiments are the same but its all so different. Buona Pasqua!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Kaines April 15, 2017 at 2:32 PM #

    Thank you for enabling me to visualize the procession in my mind. Amazing!! Happy Easter Barbara

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly April 15, 2017 at 2:59 PM #

      Starts almost out your front door! It is amazing to think they can climb the hills with those statues on their shoulders. Happy Easter to you too!


  3. jknotts7 April 15, 2017 at 5:04 PM #

    Wonderful glimpse- thank you! I remember your Austin Easter celebrations and the times you left
    a delicious plate of food on my back porch. Such a friend you were!
    Happy Easter to you and Len.

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly April 16, 2017 at 1:43 AM #

      JK, thanks for reminding me of our Austin Easters – they were such fun all being together. And of course, I would never have left you out of a dinner when you were busy helping others! Happy Easter to you! xox JG


  4. Florence Sorensen April 15, 2017 at 5:25 PM #

    Dear Judy and Len,

    Thank you for bringing Italian Easter to us! Lovely images. Having been in Cortona, I can picture vividly the drama and beauty of the procession. Cortona was created for that kind of theater and ritual—-especially the Sacred traditions. God bless,
    Happy Easter, Florence Sorensen

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly April 16, 2017 at 1:45 AM #

      I’m always happy to remember you’ve been here and that you can visualize what we experience. And yes, Cortona is such a beautiful and dramatic theatre, and was for the procession. Happy Easter to you and your family. xo


  5. Royce Larsen April 15, 2017 at 5:47 PM #

    Nicely documented
    Just like being there
    Happy Easter to all
    Of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jean April 15, 2017 at 6:01 PM #

    Judy, your photos are like paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: