Summer Jazz Concerts at Rome’s Villa Celimontana (Updated for 2013)

Jazz band at the Villa Celimontana summer series, Rome
If Rome's other summer events—including its festival on the banks of the Tiber River and its outdoor pool near the Colosseum—aren't enough for you, make sure you check out the nightly jazz concerts at Villa Celimontana.

[Update, 2013: In a total travesty, the historic festival was canceled last year and not renewed this year. The reason: lack of funds.]

Villa Celimontana is one of Rome's loveliest public parks. Once the 16th-century estate and villa of the Mattei family, it's also strewn with the remnants of ancient temples and palaces, including columns, statues and a temple altar. There's even an Egyptian obelisk inscribed to Ramses II that came from the
hill's Temple of Isis (and, originally, from Heliopolis' Temple to the
Sun).

Issues of archaeological sensitivity aside, there's no better place for summer concerts. The venue is small enough to get a good glimpse of the band and has excellent sound and lighting, not to mention a handful of restaurants and bars. (They're a little pricey, but not insane). As the sun sets over the cyprus trees, the breeze kicks up, and the music begins, there might be no better way to enjoy a Roman summer night.

Doors open for the concerts at 9 each night, and the music begins at 10:10. To get your ticket for one of the more popular concerts, or to grab a seat at the table at one of the venue's restaurants (which lets you order snacks, drinks and even a meal), be there on the earlier side. The concerts will run every night until September 4. Tickets usually cost €9 to €12, but more popular bands can cost up to €25 — check in advance. The schedule for upcoming concerts includes the Brazilian band Toquinho (July 31), pianist Aaron Goldberg (August 3), Italian blues band Blues di un Re Minore (August 20), and American singer Diane Schuur (August 30).

For more information about the concerts, click here (official website is in Italian). For a map, click here. Entrance to the concert is on Via della Navicella, number 12.

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The Best Summer Festival in Rome (Updated for 2013)

Best summer event in Rome

Summer festival along the Tiber in Rome

It might just be the best event in Rome, at least in the summer: On every night until September 1, the Tiber River’s banks come alive. More than a kilometer of stalls line the river—each one a shop or cafe, restaurant or bar.

 

If you’re a shopping, or strolling-and-people-watching, kind of person, the possibilities are endless. On my last walk through the festival, called Lungo il Tevere Roma, I perused jewelry, bought fistfuls of dried figs and kiwis, sipped a mojito in a swanky bar, and even watched one of the last World Cup games.

Compared to Rome’s other culinary options, I wouldn’t recommend having a full meal at the festival. But for a walk, a drink or a snack, it’s a nice, breezy change from the rest of Rome. And despite the crowds of Romans there, the prices are pretty similar to what you’d get elsewhere in the city. 

For more information, check out the Lungo Il Tevere 2013 festival’s website. The fun starts every night around 8pm, and runs from Ponte Palatino north to Ponte Sisto. Click here for a map.

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La Notte di Caravaggio: On Saturday Night, Art for Free

Boy with basket

There may be no artist better suited to the night than Caravaggio — the tormented Baroque painter famous for his dramatic, almost theatrically-lit paintings.

And on Saturday night, Rome is offering up its Caravaggios to the public. From 7pm on Saturday, July 17 until 9am on Sunday morning (yes, all night), four different sites will be open and free: the Borghese Museum (right now, ordinarily a €10.50 entrance), with its "Boy with a Basket of Fruit" (above), "Sick Bacchus," and "Madonna of the Snakes," among other pieces; the Church of San Luigi in Francese, home to Caravaggio's first major commission, the three frescoes of St. Matthew; the Basilica of Saint Augustine, with its Madonna of Loreto; and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, with its Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion of St. Paul (open only until 1am).

Just be prepared for a queue at the Borghese, where Romans are most likely to flock… although the later you go (or the earlier Sunday morning), the more likely you are to to have the museum to yourself.

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Rome’s Saldi Are Here, Rome’s Saldi Are Here!

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For those of you in Rome who don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that the saldi — or sales — have arrived. And for those visiting, you might be wondering what all of the excitement, and the overcrowded stores, are about.

Unlike in, say, the U.S., Rome’s stores don’t have to tend small sales year-round. Instead, they have big, city-wide sales twice a year: post-Christmas, and July.

The first few days of the saldi can be crazy. The already-overworked-and-underpaid salespeople (seriously: I went into a popular shoe store the other day where there were 10 shoppers and just 1 worker, who had to get the shoes, make the sales and ring everything up by herself) are even more frantic. The line to try clothes on at Zara, always long, gets longer. The wait to get the attention of a salesgirl at Sisley, usually tough, becomes all but impossible.

But, but, but. The sales DO tend to be pretty good (often up to 50 percent off). And if you can’t bear to brave the crowds right away, don’t fear: The saldi will go on for another 5 or 6 weeks. They’ll keep cutting prices, too. Just remember that with a bunch of discerning Italians having come in before you, the good stuff will probably be gone.

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