Every year, the city of Rome celebrates its birthday – the Natale di Roma – on April 21. If you know anything about Rome, you know that holidays and celebrations here are always elaborate. The celebration of the founding of the Eternal City is no different.
Romulus and Remus
This year marks the 2,773rd anniversary of Rome’s founding by Romulus in 753 BC. Legend has it that twins Romulus and Remus were born to a vestal virgin and then abandoned by the Tiber river. The twins were nurtured by a she-wolf until a shepherd found them and raised them as his own children. When the two grew up, they decided to establish a city (Rome), but they fought about where to locate the city, and Romulus killed his brother Remus. Romulus went on to found and be the first king of Rome. To this day you will see the famous depiction of the twins and the she-wolf all throughout the city.
Here are some of events, some historical and others current, that commemorate the special occasion:
1. Dea Roma
The Dea Roma was an ancient women’s competition that rewarded the values and principles that embodied the Roman world. They were accompanied by an ancient music performance.
The trench-digging ritual was one of many events at the Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). Reenactments of this ritual remind us of the founding of ancient Roman towns, when trenches were dug. Ancient Romans would throw offerings to the gods in the trenches, in hopes of protection.
3. Ancient Ball Game
An ancient ball game called Harpastum was once organized at the Baths of Caracalla. This game was originally from Greece but was adopted by the Romans. Today it can be described as “ancient rugby.”
4. The Grand Parade
The Grand Parade is definitely the annual highlight of the Natale di Roma celebrations. Last year, the parade started at the forum, along the Via dei Fiori Imperiale. More than 1,500 people marched in costumes representing all facets of Ancient Roman life.
If you study abroad in Rome next year when this exciting event takes place, there will be plenty for you to do and see! Even if you don’t catch any of the parades or reenactments, you can still enjoy many sites on this holiday. Make sure to use your day wisely and visit one of the spots that has been on your bucket list, like the Colosseum or the Trevi Fountain! End the day on the perfect note by watching a spectacular fireworks show over the Tiber River.