This year promises to be a particularly busy St Patrick's weekend in Rome, with thousands of Irish arriving into the capital to see Ireland take on Italy in the Six Nations rugby tournament on Saturday 16 March. The game kicks off at 15.30 at the Olympic stadium and is the first of the final three Six Nations matches being played that day in Rome, Cardiff and Paris.
The Pontifical Irish College on Via dei SS. Quattro 1 stages its annual play at 19.00 on 16 and 17 March. The play is a comedy, “King Arthur: Crisis at Camelot” adapted from a script by Geoff Bamber. All proceeds from voluntary donations and raffle ticket sales go to the Irish College’s Lenten charity, the S. Egidio community, with whom some of the college’s seminarians undertake weekly work.
On Sunday 17 March, St Patrick's Day begins at 10.00 with the traditional Mass in honour of Ireland's patron saint at St Patrick's Church on Via Boncompagni 31, near Via Veneto. The Mass is always extremely well-attended by the city's Irish community and friends of Ireland, so arrive early to get a seat. The service, which includes a rousing chorus of "Hail Glorious, St Patrick", is followed by a reception at the nearby Tara Hall.
Continuing the sporting theme of the day before, at 10.00 on 17 March the Rome Gaelic Football Club will play an exhibition Gaelic football match with the Rome Aussie Rules team. Organisers are hoping for at least 11-a-side and the game will last 70 minutes. The teams will be mixed and the game will be held at the Rome Gaelic Football Club's usual training pitch at RomaRugby on Via delle tre Fontane 5. Afterwards the teams and their followers are holding post-match St Patrick's festivities at the club's sponsor Scholars Lounge on Via del Plebiscito 101. Full details on the club’s Facebook page.
The capital's Irish Film Festa (IFF) has organised a special St Patrick's Day programme of events dedicated to animation from 15.30 to 21.30 on 17 March at the Casa del Cinema, at the Via Veneto corner of Villa Borghese. The programme includes a selection of Ireland's best short animated films from 1909 to 2012, and a series of lectures, tributes and encounters with Irish directors and animators. Entry is free and all the films are screened in their original language with Italian subtitles.
For those who wish to celebrate the day with some Guinness, some of the Irish pubs most favoured by the capital’s Irish expats include The Fiddler’s Elbow, The Druid’s Den and Finnegan’s, all of which attract large crowds on St Patrick’s Day each year.
This year the Irish Club of Rome is holding the 22nd edition of the Celtic Ball, the year's biggest party in the capital's Irish circles, a week later than normal to avoid clashing with the rugby fixtures. The annual black-tie event takes place on Saturday 23 March at the five-star Grand Hotel Parco dei Principi near Villa Borghese. To reserve tickets, costing €85, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 3335729081.
Lastly, while there is no prospect of the Tevere being dyed green for St Patrick’s Day, the Irish tourism board plans to illuminate the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the night of 16 March.