Rome celebrates 2,771st birthday on 21 April 2018
Historical groups evoke ancient Roman traditions with Natale di Roma.
The capital celebrates its 2,771st birthday on Saturday 21 April, with events also taking place on the days either side of the anniversary. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.
The traditional birthday celebrations are centred in the Circus Maximus and include the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, at 15.00 on 21 April. This tradition 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 town’s inhabitants.
This event is followed at 16.00 by a re-enactment of 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 will also host historical re-enactments including gladiator fights, aimed at children, on 20 April from 14.30-15.30.
The main event is a costumed parade, featuring more than 2,000 gladiators, senators, vestal virgins and priestesses, which begins and ends at the Circus Maximus, departing at 11.15 on Sunday 22 April. 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.