Rome's birthday celebrations for Natale di Roma include historical re-enactments including a costumed parade and gladiator fights.
Rome celebrates its 2,772nd birthday on 21 April which this year coincides with Easter Sunday festivities.
Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.
This year there are a number of novelties, including the crowning of the Dea Roma, a women's competition rewarding "the values and principles that embody the Roman world" at 16.00 on Friday 19 April, accompanied by a performance of ancient music by the Histriones.At 17.00 on 21 April, Easter Sunday, the Baths of Caracalla will hosts a match of Harpastum, an ancient ball game imported to Rome from Greece, described by organisers as the "ancestor of rugby". The match will see the Romans take on the Celts.
Events are centred in the Circus Maximus and include the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, which 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 inhabitants.Other re-enactments include 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.
The Circus Maximus also hosts historical re-enactments including gladiator fights, aimed at children.On Monday 22 April the highlight of Natale di Roma, the grand parade, takes place along Via dei Fori Imperiali at 10.00, with more than 1,500 costumed participants. Organisers say that this year anyone can join in the parade: "All you need is love for the history of Rome and a bit of creativity (for info write to email@example.com)."
Lastly, the closing event will be a renactment of siege of Masada during the First Jewish-Roman War, with giant catapults being operated by Roman legionaries in the Circus Maximus.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.
The full Natale di Roma programme of events is available on the Gruppo Storico Romano website and its Facebook page.
Cover photo La Presse
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Rome celebrates 2,772nd birthday on 21 April 2019
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