Rome celebrates 2,770th birthday on 21 April

Historical groups evoke ancient Roman tradtions with Natale di Roma.

The capital celebrates its 2,770th birthday on Friday 21 April, with events lasting until Sunday 23 April. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary foundation of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.

The traditional birthday celebrations are centred in the Circus Maximus and include the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, at 15.00 on 21 April. This tradition recalls the founding of ancient Roman towns when a trench or mundus was dug and offerings thrown into it to encourage the gods to watch over the town’s inhabitants.

This event is followed at 16.00 by a re-enactment of the agricultural Palilia ceremony. Dating back to before the founding of Rome, the ceremony was held in honour of the goddess Pales, protector of flocks and herds, and involved vestal virgins distributing straw and the ashes and blood of sacrificed animals before jumping over a bonfire three times.

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The Circus Maximus will also host historical re-enactments including gladiator fights, aimed at children, on 21 and 22 April from 14.00-16.00.

The main event is a costumed parade, featuring more than 2,000 gladiators, senators, vestal virgins and priestesses, which begins and ends at the Circus Maximus, departing at 11.15 on Sunday 23 April. The pageant is organised by the Gruppo Storico Romano, an historical dramatic society which, for more than 20 years, has brought history to life by re-enacting battles, historic events, and displays of ancient theatre and dance in the city centre.

For full Natale di Roma events programme see the Gruppo Storico Romano website.