Rome in March

Easter, the Ides of March and the marathon are all on the schedule

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his Urbi et Orbi message for Easter 2012 on April 8, 2012, Vatican City.
••• Easter Mass at the Vatican. (Photo by L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

Carnevale and Lent are the most exciting times to be in Rome, as both the pre-Lenten festivities (Carnevale) and the religious processions, which begin on Ash Wednesday, are part of the tradition in Italy's capital as well as Vatican City.

Carnevale is usually in February but sometimes falls in March. Early March, before Holy Week, is typically the low season for tourism in Rome, as the weather is still not very warm.

Most tourists visit during the summer months. But if you plan a trip in March, you'll be able to see Rome as the locals do. You'll also pay lower prices for airfares and hotel rooms, and won't have to wait in lines for most attractions and museums. 

Here are some of the events celebrated by Romans during the month of March. 

Festa Della Donna (Women's Day) in Rome

March 8, Women's Day, is often celebrated by going out to eat, so if you have a particular restaurant in mind, it's a good idea to make a reservation. Some restaurants serve a special menu on this day, too. Museums and sites sometimes offer free or reduced-price admission to women on March 8.

Feast of Santa Francesca Romana

On March 9, Romans drive to Piazzale del Colosseo near the church of Santa Francesca Romana where they have their cars blessed. Francesca was a saint who lived in the 14th century. She's the patron saint of automobile drivers because, as the legend goes, an angel would light the road before Francesca as she walked, to protect her.

 

Commemoration of Julius Caesar's Death.

Cultural events are usually held in the Roman Forum near the statue of Caesar on March 15, also known as the Ides of March, the day he was assassinated in the Roman Senate.

Saint Patrick's Day

Yes, Saint Patrick's Day in Italy is a thing. Although not widely celebrated in the city, Rome has a fair number of Irish expats and Irish bars where you'll find Irish music and food.

Holy Week and Easter in Rome

Holy Week, the days leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, is one of the busiest and most lively times of the year to visit Rome and Vatican City, and with good reason. If you visit Rome in March and happen to be there during Easter, you're in for one of the most uniquely Roman experiences a tourist can experience.

Easter Week starts on Palm Sunday with a special Mass said by the Pope in Saint Peter's Square. The Blessing of the Palms, procession, and mass are held in the morning. It's free to attend but gets very crowded, so plan to arrive early.

Good Friday mass is held at St. Peter's Basilica in the evening, followed by the Stations of the Cross procession near the Colosseum.  At the end, the Pope gives a blessing to what is usually a massive crowd of congregants. 

On Easter morning, the Pope holds mass in St. Peter's Square.

Marathon of Rome

The annual Maratona di Roma is a chance for runners to take in the sites of Rome on a 26.2-mile course which winds past all of Rome's best monuments. As many streets are shut down to traffic during the marathon, visitors also get a break from vehicle traffic. Check the calendar for the exact dates; it's usually held in late March.