Gruppo Storico Romano says it may be forced to cancel Rome's birthday festival.
The traditional Natale di Roma celebrations scheduled for Rome's 2,772nd birthday are at risk of being cancelled after the city council reportedly scrapped funding for the popular annual event held in the days around 21 April.
This year, for the first time in two decades, the organisational costs of hosting the traditional festivities could fall entirely on the Gruppo Storico Romano, a voluntary organisation which relies on donations to stage historical re-enactments of ancient Roman ceremonies.
The city normally covers the substantial organisational costs associated with the event, including installing barriers and toilet facilities as well as subsequent clean-up of Circus Maximus which hosts the majority of Natale di Roma events.
Sounding the alarm about the lack of funding, the Gruppo Storico Romano says that as a cultural organisation it is not permitted to avail of corporate sponsorship or engage in commerical activities to raise funds.
The financial donations it receives from the public are used to provide accommodation for the numerous “centurions and legionaries” who come from outside Rome, some of them from abroad, to participate in the ceremonies and gladiator fights.
The group has called on Rome residents to add their voices to its appeal to the city to save the event which has a total of 1,500 costumed participants and last year attracted 300,000 spectators.
Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.