May 1st weekend is quickly approaching and Rome is expecting more than 1 million visitors to visit the city for the beatification ceremony. If you’re on your way to Rome, here’s what you need to know about the ceremony, getting around and finding a hotel.
The main ceremony, which will be led by the Pope John Paul II’s successor, will take place over the course of three days. Rome will be, so say the least, a mad-house. On April 30th, a prayer vigil will be help at Circus Maximus. During the weekend eight historical churches will remain open all night long.
The ceremony itself will be held on Sunday morning at St Peter’s Basilica, starting at 10am. The following day, May 2nd there will be a Mass as well as music to follow. If you don’t get a chance to get close during the ceremony, you can watch it practically everywhere in Rome. There will be huge screens in churches as well as along the River Tiber. All the events are free, but space is limited. So if you want to be part of the action, then arrive early to reserve your place.
What to see/do
There will be many free and discounted events during the weekend. Grab a JPII Pass for 18€. It allows unlimited use of public transportation as well as the Roma Cristiana hop-on hop-off bus. The Coliseum will be offering special tours of the underground of the ancient ruins where tigers and gladiators prepared for battle. If massive tourist crowds aren’t your thing, check out the Santa Maria chapel instead of St. Peter’s Basilica. After visiting the Colosseum, head to San Clemente Basilica for its pagan, Christian and medieval history.
By now Rome’s hotels have been booked up and it’s getting tight to find free and affordable rooms in the Italian capital for this coming weekend. Will you need a miracle to find a hotel room in Rome this weekend? Probably. But there are always other possibilities. For example, staying in Pescara on the Adriatic coast and taking a chartered bus into the city for the ceremonies is always an option. And what could be better than combining city and sea in one holiday? As well, high-speed trains make it easy to commute from either Naples or Florence in less than 90 minutes.
With the beatification ceremony coinciding with Italy’s Labour Day weekend, there is plenty for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to do in the Eternal City this May.
Img: the-indie-cab, Flickr cc.