Happy Birthday, Rome!

Roman forum, Rome, Italy

Happy birthday to the world's most fascinating, historic, and beautiful city (yes, I'm biased): Rome! Tomorrow, April 21, marks the city's 2,764th birthday. (Although by now, who's counting?)

That means, of course, that Rome's going to celebrate in style. Including with free museum openings, shows, and other festivities.

At the top of our list of free, fun ways to celebrate Rome's 2,764th:

All day. Free museums. Rome's municipal museums are free, including great, off-the-beaten-path gems like the MACRO, Montemartini, and Ara Pacis. Here's a complete list of free museums on April 21 (in Italian).

9am. Ceremony with Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno. Rome's mayor lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittorio Emanuele monument, Piazza Venezia. Pomp and circumstance ensues.

11:30am. Concerts at the Campidoglio. Today it might be best known for Michelangelo's architecture, but back in the day, this hill was one of Rome's most sacred. Stop by for some music while the Granatieri of Sardinia look on.

11:30am. Reenactment of Rome's founding. At the Circus Maximus, the Gruppo Storico Romano performs the tale of Rome's 753 B.C. founding. Who will you root for: Romulus or Remus?

3:30pm. Inauguration of the "Bridge of Music." The bridge, in the Flaminio neighborhood near the MAXXI and other cultural gems, gets inaugurated to the sounds of the band of the metropolitan police corps.

4pm. Concert at the Capitoline museums. At 4pm, the Orazio Vecchi choir will give a free concert in the Pietro da Cortona room. Arrive early to get a seat.

6pm. Historical reenactment of Palilia. In front of the Bocca della Verità, the Gruppo Storico Romano will "perform" the pagan Palilia ceremony, a celebration of spring's arrival that Romulus himself was said to have participated in.

9pm. A "spettacolo" of light projections, performances and music. At 9pm at the Forum of Augustus (in the Imperial Forums), there'll be a show called "Roma/Amor, the birth and resurrection of the Eternal City," celebrating Rome from 753 B.C. right up until today. 

 

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Free Museums, Fireworks and More for Italy’s 150th Anniversary

150th anniversary and notte tricolore in RomeDespite some reservations about whether Italy's ever really unified, Rome's going all-out to celebrate the reunification's 150th anniversary. From this Wednesday night through Thursday, events, concerts and lots of free museum entrances are all part of the package.

The festivities kick off on Wednesday night with "Notte Tricolore," a night of culture-focused fun. And there's a lot going on. Here's just a selection:

Free museums, open late: Among other sites, the Quirinale (with its temporary Lorenzo Lotto exhibition), Musei Capitolini, Castel Sant'Angelo, and Palazzo Barberini will all be open from 8pm to 2am — and free. (Yay!) And don't miss the Museo dell'Ara Pacis (also open 8pm-2am, also free), since the Ara Pacis will be "colored" using lasers to show you what it actually would have looked like back in the first century B.C. Usually, this is only done during the summertime

Light shows: Rome's ruins get prettied up with light shows — from 7pm, check out the Colosseum, Fori Imperiali, and Hadrian's Temple in Piazza di Pietra.

Dances: At 7pm, there's a dance show at Teatro Piccolo Eliseo (Via Nazionale 183) for €2. Polka and other genres will be part of the "Dance for Unity" in Palazzo Barberini at 8pm.

Concerts: Feelin' funky? Check out the Mo’ Better Band Funky Street Band — either at 8pm in Piazza dei Cinquecento, or at 11pm in Piazza Vittorio. Risorgimento songs are on the schedule at the Piazza del Quirinale concert, starting at 8:30pm. Chiesa Nuova hosts a sacred music concert, with pieces by Rossini, Verdi and Wagner, at 8:30pm, 9:30pm and 10:30pm.

Fireworks: At midnight, keep your eyes peeled — fireworks will take place over Celio.

Here's the complete Notte Tricolore program (in Italian).

Meanwhile, Thursday's a nationwide holiday.

Happy culture-vulturing!

 

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On New Year’s Eve, Three Free Concerts in Rome

Like any big city, Rome has lots of New Year's Eve options, from fancy dinners to edgy clubs. But if you don't want to shell out (any) dough — and if battling strangers for a spot at a bar isn't your thing — you might want to hit up one of Rome's free New Year's Eve concerts:

1. The New Year's Eve concert at the Imperial Forums. The headliner this year will be Claudio Baglione, a famous Roman singer, and the concert starts at 10pm. (There will be a pause at midnight for the countdown, followed by fireworks). It's free, but arrive early to make sure you have a seat!

2. Concert at Piazza del Popolo. A lot of the New Year's Eve action will be at Piazza del Popolo, including a free concert at 10pm. Expect street performers and fireworks, too.

3. Classical music concert at the Piazza del Quirinale. As per tradition, there will be a classical concert at the piazza on New Year's Eve — and the president of Italy will make an appearance. The concert starts at 11pm. (And yes, here will be fireworks!)

 

 

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One Night, 47 Concerts: November’s Musei in Musica

On Saturday, November 20, Rome — a city not particularly known for its live music scene — will host free concerts in no fewer than 47 museums and institutes city-wide. Don't miss it!

Some top choices:

Milonga (the Latin American predecessor to tango), played by the Orchestra Buenos Aires Cafè Quintet. They're livening up the Galleria Alberto Sordi (yes, that big neoclassical shopping gallery) at 11pm.

At the edgy MACRO Testaccio, folk music: Greek at 8pm, Estonian at 9pm, Norwegian at 10pm, and Italian at 11pm.

The Quartetto del Teatro dell'Opera, performing Puccini and Delibes, at the Corte di Cassazione at Piazza Cavour. The concerts are at 8m, 9pm and 10pm, and this one's expected to be so popular, reservation is obligatory (call 060608).

Hebrew music at the Jewish Synagogue, including "liturgical Hebrew music of an Italian rhythm" at 10:30pm.

For those looking for sounds of the American South, the New Orleans Jazz Quintet plays at the Accademia Belgica at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

There will be an Egyptian dance performance at the Museo dell'Ara Pacis at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

At the Castel Sant'Angelo, Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" by the renowned Orchestra Arcus Caelestis. (Reserve in advance for the concerts at 8pm, 9:30pm or 11pm by calling 3313946149).

Guitar concerts at the National Museum of Musical Instruments (pretty appropriate, no?), at 8:30pm, 10pm and 11:30pm.

For more information and listings, click here.

Don't forget about all of those other music and museum events going on this fall, too!

 

 

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Rome’s Best Summer Events: Go Before They End

 Baths
August is upon us — and with it, the winding-down of some of Rome's best summer festivals and events, or "Estate Romana". A recap of Rome's best summer offerings… and when they end:

Ending August 3. The saldi (summer sales). If you miss these, you'll have to wait until January!

Ending August 8. Opera at the Baths of Caracalla (shown above). This year: Aida and Rigoletto.

Ending August 9. The "Roma Incontra Il Mondo" festival with nightly concerts at the Villa Ada, a lovely, enormous park in Rome.

Ending August 15. Rock City, a festival in the Park of the Aqueducts featuring nightly concerts and restaurant stalls. (On the smallish side, but fun).

Ending August 19. Lungo il Tevere Roma, an enormous nightly festival at the Tiber River.

Ending August 31. L'Isola del Cinema, showing films nightly at the island on the Tiber River (both foreign and Italian).

Ending September 4. Nightly jazz concerts at the Villa Celimontana

Ending September 4. All'Ombra dell'Colosseo, a pool (with events like aperitivo and concerts) in the Colosseum's shadow.

Ending September 5. La Forma del Rinascimento ("The Shape of the Renaissance"), with works by Donatello, Bregno, and Michelangelo, at the Palazzo Venezia.

Ending September 5. L’Età della Conquista ("The Age of Conquest"), an exhibit on the founding and Greek influences of the Roman Empire, at the Musei Capitolini.

Ending September 8. Colori dell'Ara Pacis, a light show showing the Ara Pacis as it would have been. Wednesday nights only.

Ending October 3. The Colosseum's Gladiators exhibit.

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