Papal Audiences take place 10:00 hrs, every Wednesday morning in St. Peter's Square. In Winter - or during extreme bad weather - the Audience is usually moved inside the Aula Nervi. The Audience lasts approx. 2 hours.
Official Vatican site
For more information contact Prefecture of the Papal Household:
Prefecture of the Papal Household
00120 Vatican City State
Fax: +39 06 6988 5863
At one time paper tickets were posted to overseas and out-of-Rome addresses, but this service seems to no longer be provided.
If you didn't reserve tickets in advance and your group is less than 10, you can try anyway on the morning (8am-10am), or the previous afternoon (3pm-7pm / until 6pm in winter).
Tickets are issued 'free of charge' by the Vatican State and the procedure is as follows: download + fax the request form on the Official Vatican site, for those requesting tickets from out-of-Rome or overseas. You will be informed - by letter - whether or not tickets have been reserved for you, but they are only issued one day prior to each Audience, so you still need to be in Rome the day before (or prepare yourself for a very early start on the morning of the Audience) to collect your tickets.
Tickets are held under the name of the person who reserved them so that person will need to collect the tickets and provide the letter that was sent and possibly proof of identity. Plan of the Vatican buildings - on the purple & white map, see No.1 (where the huge Bronze doors are) and No.61 (Aula Nervi, also known as Aula Paolo VI, where indoor Audiences are held).
If you are in Rome for Easter or Christmas you might wish to attend Easter Eve Mass or Christmas Eve Mass, both held in St. Peter's Square. Tickets are free-of-charge but availability is limited and, therefore, best to book these 2-6 months in advance. If your request is successful your tickets will be ready for collection from the Vatican 4-5 days before the event.
It's difficult to judge exactly how busy any Audience or Mass will be. We have known people queue for 2 hours before getting inside and others who have strolled in with hardly any queues at all, but we would always urge visitors to leave themselves ample time just to avoid disappointment.
From Serrone we thought we'd better opt for something savoury, after all the sweet stuff, so we bought a Ciambella Serronese, which is made from flour, eggs, olive oil, aniseed, milk and lemon - although you don't taste the lemon. The recipe has been handed down through generations and was originally called "Ciammella". In times past a man would offer this to the woman he wanted to marry as it was a sign of his and his family's wealth. Men also would sometimes wear them around the wrist so that they could easily take a nibble whilst working the fields. Below is the bakery where you can buy them - on the main road just before Serrone in La Forma on via Prenestina.
Another firm favourite from the same town (head to Bar Lazio) is their specialty Panettone made with Cesanese wine which gives a lovely richness, and their newest creation - the Easter Colomba also made with Cesnaese wine but we confess we've not had chance to try that yet.
Mix the flour, sugar, eggs and butter all together into a dough and shape into a ball.
Roll out the dough to 2mm thinkness and approx sized strips of 5 x 10 cm.
Next using the cutting wheel, 2 parallel incisions down the centre and then fry in the oil (which has been brough up tp frying temperature - 170°c - 180°c.) and remove when golden in colour.
Lay the fried frappe onto absorbent kitchen paper and sprinkle with extra sugar whilst still hot!
Serve when cooled!
PIZZA DI PASQUA (Roman Easter Pizza)
The correct full name is Pizza Cresciuta di Pasqua.
500g plain flour (either all tipo '0' or 300g '0' + 200g Manitoba flour)
4 medium eggs
30-35g of fresh yeast
a pinch of salt
additional aromas which you can add to your taste: grated lemon or orange zest from 1 lemon or 1 orange; 1 dessert spoon ground cinnamon - or to taste; 1 tsp Nutmeg - or to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 5 hours.
Once the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and transfer to a baking tin in a nice vase shape (size in cm: 12h x 16 bottom dia x 21 top dia) and bake at 180°c for 45 minutes. The result should be similar in shape and texture to a sponge cake/bread. Unlike savoury pizzas this one is traditionally eaten cold as a starter at Easter lunch, usually accompanied by salami or hard boiled eggs. However - we have ours at Easter breakfast with coffee or hot chocolate!
1 ltr of sunflower oil for frying
300g plain flour
50g of sugar (normal white granulated)
2 whole medium-sized eggs
100g butter (unsalted)
optional lemon zest
A scalopped cutting wheel
A rolling pin and pastry board
The History of Rome Carnival - the Roman Carnival began in the Middle Ages and reached its height after the election of Pope Paul III, and, after the transfer of the Papal Residence at Palazzo Venezia, most of the carnival celebrations woud take place in the Historical Centre on Via Lata (now known as Via del Corso).
The Commedia dell'arte, mask parades, games in the main squares, carnival floats, jousting & tournaments, the highly anticipated Berber horse races and the “moccoletti” attracted the entire city's inhabitants, and pilgrims and curious folk from around the known world (at that time such far flung places as Australia were only just being discovered). With the arrival of the House of Savoy in Rome in 1870, the Carnival began to decline, especially because of the many incidents that occurred during the games and the many people who were injured.
The Carnival of Rome took place in Piazza Navona, where recreational performances and fireworks were organised. Piazza del Popolo was the starting point of the most important event of the Carnival: the Berber horse races which ran along Via del Corso and ended at Piazza Venezia.
Today events are a little different, usually with an opening parade in Piazza del Popolo passing through Via Ripetta and Via del Corso, a stage with various perfomers and street artists in Piazza Navona, a Renaissance equestrian show in costume and Baroque fireworks in Piazza del Popolo.
CARNIVALS AROUND LAZIO
We have picked out the largest and most creative carnivals from around the Lazio region.
RONCIGLIONE - VITERBO
Carnival of Ronciglione
At the foot of the Cimini Mountains, in the heart of Tuscia, is a village full of surprises, among the oldest and most famous of Italy, with origins dating back to the Roman Carnival. Following centuries of the carnival being forbidden, Rociglione reintroduced it in the Renaissance-Baroque period (16th & 17th centuries) and has continued ever since, right up to present day. Masked groups, floats, the town band, majorettes, hussars and the cavalry color and enliven the streetscape of Ronciglione.
ACQUAPENDENTE - VITERBO
Carnevale di Acquapendente
Parades of floats and masked groups are held during the last two Sundays of carnival, and after the last parade of Mardi Gras is the burning of Carnevalaccio. At sunset everyone meets in the main square for the burning of the effigy, which represents the Carnival spirit; a pagan custom symbolising purification, leading us - through fire - to the period of Lent.
CIVITA CASTELLANA - VITERBO
Parade of floats and masked groups celebrate the Mardi Gras and the burning of the famous "Puccio" the great paper mache totem representing "Carnival King" with music, dancing and bedlam performed by costumed and masked figures. The Carnival of Civita Castellana is rooted in the ancient past, dating back to the pre-Roman Faliscan civilization.
CANEPINA - VITERBO
Parade of floats pass through the streets of the town, arriving at Piazzale I Maggio where a totem of King Carnival "O puppet" will be burned.
SUTRI - ROMA
Antico Carnevale Sutrino
For five days there are alternating parades, games and dancing in the square as well as masquerades and dances until the conclusion of the festivities on the evening of Shrove Tuesday with the extraordinary spectacle of the burning of King Carnival. A long procession of masks and screaming crowd accompanies Carnival King lying on a bier in the last joyful journey that ends in the town square, where he is burned. Around the bonfire crowd indulges in frenetic dancing to the sound of hypnotic wild music.
LATINA - various towns
Il Carnevale Pontino (divided between the towns below)
The Pontine Carnival is held in agreement between the towns of Sabaudia, Pontinia, San Felice Circeo and Terracina. The event represents a moment of strong aggregation of the towns ensuring the conservation of good, healthy folk traditions. Parade floats pass through towns and villages of the whole district.
The "radeca" or agave festival takes place during 'carnival time in Frosinone, and was originally an ancient pagan fertility festival - the agave leaf (due to its shape and size) was a symbol for the male reproductive parts, but the festival morphed into a more important celebration of the heroic revolt by the city’s inhabitants against the French occupation in 1798 - 1799. A protagonist of the episode was the famous French general Jean Antoine Étienne Vachier, known as Championnet.
In the photos (pictured) is a puppet of the French General and his likeness in a painting (taken from Wikipedia).
A previous French General - a horrible man, called Giraban - took awful revenge on local rebels after this initial rebellion by sacking the city, killing innocents and wreaking havoc damaging buildings and churches.
The following year, despite these despicable acts, the locals of Frosinone still felt they wanted to celebrate their Radeca Carnival, but (as a bit of a joke) sent out a message to the newly posted general (Campionnet) that they were organising another revolt. Champoinnet, who was based in Anagni, gathered his troops and set off for Frosinone but when he arrived, instead of finding angry pesants ready for a battle, he found them enjoying their festival. He was both shocked and amused, but mostly amused, and threw himself whole-heartedly into the festivities. He and his soldiers got wonderfully drunk and had a jolly time and it is this day in history that the Radeca reproduces: the arrival of the General in his coach, and ensuing revelries!
This unusual and unique festival takes place on Shrove Tuesday which, this year, falls on 27th Feb.
The merry procession is preceded by a wagon carrying a barrel of wine. Just after that the groups of "radicari" (agave leaf holders), arrive, who are the heart of the parade, followed by a representative of the municipal administration carrying the city standard. Then comes the band, uninterruptedly playing the Carnival song, and finally a wagon drawn by four horses bearing the “rubicund” (ruddy-faced) General Championnet holding his huge belly with one hand and waving to the crowd with the other. Each year a new 'General' is chosen from among the locals.
Most of the participants wave the "radeca" (agave leaf), and some raise up a cauliflower (pantanari), an ancient sign of the peasantry. Bearing these “weapons” they dance to a song that starts out slowly, recalling the injustices suffered and the oppression of the people, which then speeds up in the merrier second part to celebrate the recovery of freedoms. In this more lively phase, the agave-holders and the cauliflower-holders burst into a wild hopping dance, forming various circles, and crying out together: "esseglie', esseglie', esseglie'!" which - in local dialect - means 'he's coming' or 'he's here'.
During the parade, certain rules must be adhered to: they must have an agave leaf, otherwise the violator has to bend over and undergo a certain number of agave-strokes (a whipping). At your first ever Radeca festival you must undergo an initiation which consistes of a light whipping on your shoulders - but only in fun!
If you read our entry on FROSINONE you will see how ill-fated this city seems - having been the target of many attacks through the centuries and having suffered several major earthquakes.