La Settimana Santa (Easter Holy Week) in Calabria

Infinitely more so than Christmas, La Settimana Santa (Holy Week) is the biggest, most important event in Calabria — and it has nothing to do with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow treats (more on that later this week).

Many villages have their own special goings-on, and Badolato is one of them. Activities last all week long and culminate in a half-day procession on Venerdรฌ Santo (Good Friday) and an all day procession on Sabato Santo (Holy Saturday).

Last year, I gathered a collection of my posts on Pasqua in Calabria for you:

Celebrating Easter in Italy

There are more stories, photos, videos, and a recipe linked there.


I keep struggling with what to call what goes on here, though. “Celebration” and “festivities” simply don’t fit the somber, austere, and deeply emotional mood even for the non-religious like me. This will be my eighth Easter here, and I still get choked up for La Settimana Santa.

The rhythmic beat of a solitary drum echoing through the narrow streets, the bellowing yet wailing voices of men and sometimes women singing about the suffering of their savior, the trudging up these steep, unforgiving hills with the sun beating down on those dressed in layers of robes.

It all begins at the start of the week, with groups of men who walk around the village from church to church each morning leading up to Good Friday. This video was taken this morning from my balcony:

If you can come to Calabria for Holy Week even once in your lifetime, I highly recommend it.

10 Beans of Wisdom to “La Settimana Santa (Easter Holy Week) in Calabria”
  1. 03.30.2010

    You are right Michelle, actually Easter is one of the few celebrations in Italy with still a genuine sense of religions and tradition attached to it, much more than Christmas. When I was a child I was a Catholic and I remember a genuine gloomy feeling on Holy Friday – when I moved to the UK I could not believe it was a holiday, that was meant to be a day for mourning! – and a genuine sense of rebirth on Easter morning. And that was in Northern Italy!

    I just love this time of year; thanks for sharing your thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. 03.30.2010

    I too, really love those Easter processions that you see in so many Southern Italian towns. There’s something quite mesmerizing about the solemnity. Buona Pasqua. and hugs to the cute little ones (on four feet that is)

    Thanks! Hugs all around ๐Ÿ˜€

    .-= Ciaochowlinda´s last blog ..Coconut Cream Easter Eggs =-.

  3. Scicchi

    Great post and video, Michelle! Off to read all of your stuff on Easter from last year…again ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks! Hope you and yours have a wonderful Easter ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. 03.30.2010

    I think this time of the year, esp. in Italian culture, is the best time. The traditions and foods are just awesome. I look so forward every year to the baking of ricotta stuffed pies that should only be eaten during this season. Thanks for the post!

    I agree that this is probably the best time to see tradition and taste the foods…plus the weather is often just turning warm. Such a wonderful time of year ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Tanisha

    This was beautiful Michelle. I love the Middle Eastern influence in the sound. I like you am not religious, in fact I am Jewish, but I love to see traditional religious rites. It is something we lack here in the States. I can’t wait to be apart of this next year..

    There’s a lot of Middle Eastern influence as well as pagan…such an interesting mix of tradition ๐Ÿ™‚

    .-= Tanisha´s last blog ..Break time =-.

  6. Very interesting post. Back in L.A. Easter week was not a big deal at all.

    I love that there’s Pasquetta (aka Little Easter) here.

    Me too! It’s so wonderful when there’s nice weather especially ๐Ÿ˜€

    .-= nyc/caribbean ragazza´s last blog ..Help. I’m a little confused by the recent regional elections in Italy. =-.

  7. 03.30.2010

    Having witnessed the Good Friday Procession in Tuscania, where young men of the town drag heavy chains attached to their ankles up the hills of the town, I agree about the emotional mood these processions create.

    Here they don’t have chains on their legs, but they do have them in their hands and self-flagellate as they walk ALL DAY on Sabato Santo. Very moving.

    .-= LindyLouMac´s last blog ..Hong Kong Trip Part Two =-.

  8. Beth Krempasky

    Very touching. I got emotional just watching that little bit – can’t imagine what it must be like being there. Beautiful, I’m sure. Thank you for sharing Michelle.

    Thanks for watching Beth!

  9. Gil

    Great video! Loved the the glimpse of clothes lines. On our first trip to Italy we spent most of Holy Week in Sicily. We thought it was so net to get olive branches instead of palms. On the other hand it seemed strange that so many people wandered in and out of church during Mass to have a smoke. Back then that was right in my alley.

    Yes we do the olive branches here too, but I saw some palms in Sicily…we do have palm trees, so we *could* do palms…guess there’s just more olive trees!

  10. 04.04.2010

    Easter in Italy is my favourite as well. I spent Easter 1988 in Guardavalle and was also amazed at how serious and somber the mood is there during that week. I will have to dig up my pictures and post them as well. And sadly, Pasqua is not recognized in North America.



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake