Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci: Locations for Part 2 of Season 2

Stanley Tucci returns with four more episodes of his show Searching for Italy. Season 2, Part 2 episodes on Calabria, Sardinia, Liguria, and Puglia.

House of Gucci: Read the Book, See the Film

House of Gucci, the amazing-looking film that features a star-studded cast including Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, will soon be out in theaters and I am really excited to see it. The trailer looks amazing: But as cool as the movie looks, I am really dying to read the book first! House of Gucci: A … Read more

Easter in Rome: When, Where, and How to See Mass During Holy Week

white concrete building with flags on top during daytime

Pilgrims and regular folk come from far and wide to witness Holy Week and Easter festivities in Rome and Vatican City.

The following post details Holy Week (Settimana Santa) and Easter festivities in Rome and Vatican City.

How to Watch Easter Mass at the Vatican

Most, if not all, Holy Week and Easter activities, including the Urbi et Orbi mass, will be streamed live from the official Vatican channel on YouTube.

Vatican Media Live, the Vatican’s live feed YouTube channel. Click on the video to see what’s happening right now in Vatican City.

Links to previous masses and liturgical activities are available on the YouTube channel as well as on the Vatican News website and the Vatican News Facebook page.

Easter and Holy Week Mass Schedule

Here is a typical Holy Week mass schedule from La Repubblica:

The Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday in the Basilica begins at 10 am, presided over by the Pope, followed, at 6 pm, by the Mass in Coena Domini, celebrated not by the Pope but by the cardinal dean of the College. This service typically features the washing of the feet.

On Good Friday, the Passion of Christ is celebrated in the Basilica and, at 9 pm, the Via Crucis in world vision, both presided over by Francis. The procession with the cross takes place around the Colosseum.

On Holy Saturday, the Pope returns to the Altar of the Chair for the vigil of the Holy Night. It traditionally begins at 9.30 pm.

At 10 am on Sunday, again in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope presides over Easter Mass concluding with the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Blessing.

Holy Week and Easter Activities at St. Peter’s Basilica

The most popular place to visit during this time is the seat of Christendom — St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.

Saint Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter’s Basilica

The Pope presides over several services at the basilica during Holy Week — Settimana Santa, in Italian. These include

  • Holy Thursday: morning and evening masses
  • Good Friday: an evening vigil
  • Holy Saturday: an evening mass

Easter Sunday mass is celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands gather to watch the Pope bless an icon of the risen Christ and hear the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi message.

Holy Week Activities in Rome — Beyond Vatican City

In the week leading up to Easter — known as Holy Week or Settimana Santa — the Pope travels to other churches in Rome to perform holy rites.

Holy Thursday at St. John Lateran

Saint John Lateran in Rome
San GIovanni in Laterano / St. John Lateran / Photo © Melanie Renzulli

On Holy Thursday, the Pope typically delivers the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano). St. John Lateran, located in south Rome, not far from the Colosseum, is the church for the “Bishop of Rome,” which is another official title for the pontiff. After St. Peter’s, this is the second-most important basilica in Rome and worth a visit even if you aren’t in town during Easter.

Also in this area is the Scala Santa, purported to be the “holy stairs” that led to the throne of Pontius Pilate and the stairs that Jesus climbed while bearing his cross. Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, brought these stairs to Rome from Jerusalem in 326 A.D. and Christians have been venerating them ever since.

The Stations of the Cross Vigil in the Colosseum

Another intriguing site to visit during Easter is the Colosseum, where the Stations of the Cross are held during an evening vigil on Good Friday.

The Pope presides over this rite in the arena where many ancient Christians are said to have been “thrown to the lions.” The Colosseum was consecrated as a church in 1749 to commemorate these early persecutions of Christians and stem the pillaging of the structure’s building materials.

Other Religious Activities in Rome Related to Lent and Easter

Leading up to Holy Week, there are several other opportunities to see and/or hear a blessing from the Pope, including on Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is also the typical day on which World Youth Day, a celebration initiated by Pope John Paul II, is held in St. Peter’s Square.

How to Get Tickets to Holy Week and Easter Masses at the Vatican

Tickets are free, but they must be reserved via the Prefecture of the Papal Household. This is the same process as securing tickets for the Pope’s general audiences each Wednesday throughout the year.

Seating for Holy Week ceremonies are very limited. Free tickets for these events must be reserved well in advance with your local diocese or through the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

Many attendees are able to come by tickets through their local churches. So, if you have one of those, start there. Otherwise, you will need to book tickets by fax. Yes, fax. Try not to grumble about it.

First, fill out this form from the Vatican with your personal details. Then fax it to +39 06 698 85863. If you don’t have access to a fax machine, you can use an online service like

Detailed instructions for requesting, confirming, and picking up tickets for masses and audiences at the Vatican is available from the Prefecture of the Papal Household, also known as the Prefettura.

Learn More About Holy Rome

For more ideas on visiting holy Rome, have a look at the links below. You may also visit the official website of the Vatican for information on the Pope, the Holy See, and liturgical services.

Papal Basilicas of Rome
Santa Maria Maggiore
San Giovanni in Laterano
San Paolo Fuori Le Mura

Additional links of interest
Getting Into the Vatican Museums
Italy’s Most Unusual Religious Relics

Photo © WiltshireYan

Italy Acquires Umberto Eco’s Vast Collection of Books

During his lifetime, Umberto Eco amassed more than 30,000 books for his personal library. Now, those volumes will be preserved and made available to students and scholars.

In January, the Italian Culture Ministry announced that it had reached an agreement with Eco’s family to acquire the beloved author’s huge library of modern and ancient books.

Per the announcement, Italy will split the archive between libraries in Milan and Bologna, the two cities where Eco lived and worked.

Umberto Eco’s Library of Modern Books at the Università di Bologna

Umberto Eco mural on the Via Azzo Gardino in Bologna. Photo via UniBo

Eco’s alma mater, the Università di Bologna (UniBo), will be in charge of Eco’s collection of modern books and archives for the next 90 years. Eco taught at the university beginning in 1975 and was professor emeritus from 2008 until his death on 19 February 2016.

“Eco’s books will be kept in a wing of the University Library of Bologna,” explained UniBo Rector Francesco Ubertini when announcing the acquisition. “Professor Eco thus returns to the house where he lived as an intellectual for many decades.”

Ubertini also emphasized that the university will use Eco’s library to learn more about his research and writing process. “Eco’s mind is a large continent to explore,” he said. “The books that Eco has read, which he has browsed through, which contain his notes and his reading cards will be the central object of a major study project.”

Umberto Eco’s Library of Antique Books at the Biblioteca Braidense in Milan

Image of Umberto Eco browsing ancient manuscripts in the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense. Photo courtesy of the library.

Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milan will acquire Eco’s library of more than 1,200 antique books. The so-called “Bibliotheca semiologica curious, lunatic, magical and pneumatic” includes 36 incunabula (books or pamphlets printed before the 16th century) and 380 volumes that were printed between the 16th and 19th centuries, according to the Braidense announcement.

Known to locals as the Biblioteca di Brera, the Braidense is located, along with the Pinacoteca, in the Palazzo di Brera. In one of his last opinion pieces before his death, Eco wrote about the bad paintings of Francesco Hayez, a painter whose “Kiss” features prominently in the Pinacoteca di Brera.

Umberto Eco Looks for a Book in His Own Vast Library

A polymath, Umberto Eco was lauded for his ability to bridge two worlds, the academic and the popular, a technique that shines through in his best-selling books like The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. “He infused his seven novels with many of his scholarly preoccupations.”

Eco was a witty, fascinating subject himself, and he was often invited to pen columns and appear on camera. This 2015 conversation about memory and libraries, contained in the video below, gives us a glimpse of the extensive personal library that will soon be under the care of the two libraries in Bologna and Milan.

His long journey to find a single book on his own shelves begins at about the 4:50 mark.

Pino Daniele, Soul of Naples

Si ‘mmuore solo quanno ‘o munno nun s’aricorda più di te. Se no, ci si allontana solo fisicamente.

“You die only when the world doesn’t remember you anymore…otherwise you only move away physically.”

This quote — partly in Neapolitan and partly in Italian — appears in a video tribute to Pino Daniele, the legendary singer from Naples who passed away on 4 January 2015.

Pino Daniele was the soul of Naples, featuring the ancient city in his lyrics and singing often with his sweet, distinctive voice in the Neapolitan dialect.

The young man in the beginning of the video above explains that Pino Daniele didn’t die because he will never be forgotten. He became a part of the fabric of Naples, as sure as the sun, sea, Mt. Vesuvius, and the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida.

Nun è muorto Pino Daniele…E’ comme si dimane me ne esco e dico che a Napoli è muorto ‘o sole, o è muorto ‘o mare, ‘o Vesuvio. Capri. Ischia. Procida. Guagliò…. si ‘mmuore solo quanno ‘o munno nun s’aricorda più di te. Se no, ci si allontana solo fisicamente.


Daniele’s signature song — Napule è —was sung in many tributes to Daniele when he died, including by thousands of fans at Piazza del Plebiscito and in Stadio San Paolo.

This song will always give me chills.

Here is yet another video of Napule è with the original audio and lyrics in Neapolitan and Italian. I can’t think of another song — other than Frank Sinatra’s New York New York — that so connects an artist to a place as firmly.

RIP Paolo Rossi, Hero of the 1982 World Cup

Paolo Rossi, hero of the 1982 World Cup, died in Rome on 9 December 2020 after a long battle with an undisclosed disease. He was 64. Rossi was integral to Italy’s World Cup win in 1982, a journey that saw the Italian National team battle past Maradona’s Argentina, as well as Brazil, Poland, and West … Read more

9,036-piece Colosseum Is LEGO’s Largest Kit Ever

LEGO Colosseum

In a year that has had little to no travel and more time than usual spent at home, LEGO has unveiled its massive 9,036-piece Colosseum builder kit. The Colosseum is LEGO’s biggest building set yet, edging out the Millennium Falcon set which has 7,541 pieces. Once built, the LEGO Colosseum measures over 10.5” (27cm) high, … Read more

‘Romulus’ TV Series a Dramatic Look at the Founding of Rome

The birth of the city of Rome is a legend shrouded in mystery, violence, power, family drama, and the supernatural. In other words, it’s the kind of story that is perfect for a television series.

Romulus, a 10-part series airing later this fall, is a dramatic retelling of Rome’s 8th century BC origin story. But rather than tell the children’s story of Romulus, Remus, and the She-Wolf, this series focuses on the primitive tribes from which Rome was born. What’s more, it was filmed entirely in archaic Latin.

“We are not actually narrating the legend of the she-wolf that saves the twins,” explains executive producer Marco Chimenz. “We do have a she-wolf but she’s a guerrilla leader, a woman who leads a group of outcasts to fight against the established power. She already has an idea of Rome, which is an idealised place that can free men and women from fear of nature, of gods and constant oppression and slavery. It’s a very modern ideology.”

Chimenz, who helped create the popular series Gomorrah and Suburra, worked with director Matteo Rovere of The First King to bring Romulus to the screen. This included re-creating the ancient city of Alba Longa as well as consulting with scholars on the Latin script.

 “We have all seen a lot of films and TV series about ancient Rome and they are spoken in English, very often British English, which has become the language for this kind of storytelling,” Chimenz says. “Doing this series in English was not realistic, but doing it in Italian was not realistic either, so we decided to recreate this language. The actors had to learn all the lines and dialogue by heart, which prevented them from improvising.”

Romulus stars Italian actors Andrea Arcangeli, Francesco Di Napoli, and Marianna Fontana as Yermos, Wiros, and Ilia, the three characters through whose eyes we learn about this ancient universe. Hundreds of other actors and stunt performers were also on set for dramatic battle and ritual scenes.

If you enjoyed the HBO series Rome, which first aired in 2005 and is now available for streaming, you will love Romulus. Just make sure you are ready to pay attention! An entire show in Latin is not ideal for the lazy viewer.

Virtual Visits to Italy’s Museums and UNESCO Sites

Mosaic in Herculaneum, Campania

I am writing this post one day before April 3, the initial deadline date for Italy’s nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus emergency. Now that Italy has extended the lockdown until Easter — an arbitrary deadline that will likely be extended once again — who knows how long it will be before the country reopens to its own residents, much less the rest of us who are pining to see her again.

Read more