Friday, 6 January 2017


Rome is, together with Milan, the city where most cultural events such as exhibitions, concerts and shows take place in Italy. Regular events that place in the city each year.

Important religious holidays tend to shut down the entire city. Different districts of Rome hold smaller-scale celebrations of their own patron saints in their own way, from calorific blowouts to costume parades, to extravagant fireworks displays. Rome's savvy mayor Francesco Rutelli, Walter Veltroni and Gianni Alemanno have lavished an embarrassment of cultural riches on the city in recent years, striking a good balance between small-scale, independent festivals and bigger-budget citywide events, which make ample use of Rome's endless supply of photogenic venues.

Many international musical events are organized in the new Rome Auditorium, a kind of City of Music that is located near the Olympic Village in the Flaminio area of the city. The Auditorium, that was designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano, comprises three large halls that hold a total of 5000 people, set amidst a park where a wonderful amphitheater has been built, together with some recording rooms.

Keep in mind the fact that if you want to plan a trip to Rome in a period when one of these events is taking place, you should book a hotel in Rome well in advance. 

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Immacolata Concezione (8 Dec)
The statue of the Madonna in Piazza di Spagna is the focus of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. With the pope looking on, the fire brigade runs a ladder up Mary's column and a lucky fireman gets to place a wreath over her outstretched arm. At the base of the column locals deposit elaborate floral tributes.

Natale and Santo Stefano - Christmas and Boxing Day (25-26 Dec)
Tickets for the papal midnight mass at St Peter's can be obtained from the Prefettura; put your request in months ahead. Cribs can be found in most churches, but the most impressive are halfway up the Spanish Steps and in piazza San Pietro. The Roman Christmas Day is a gluttonous affair: locals feast upon fritti (calorific fried offerings), followed by panettone (currant sponge) and torrone (slabs of nutty chocolate or nougat). The pope says a special mass and gives his 'Urbi et orbis' blessing in St Peter's.

San Silvestro and Capodanno
New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (31 Dec - 1 Jan)
Hordes of Romans flock to Piazza del Popolo to see in the new year with a free concert and fireworks display. Some people add to the fun with home-grown pyrotechnics and flying spumante corks, turning the centro storico into something resembling a war zone. Beware: some older residents still honour the tradition of chucking unwanted consumer durables off their balconies.
check the city council website for a full list of events

La Befana – Epiphany (mid Dec 6 Jan)
From mid December up to 6 January, Piazza Navona hosts a Christmas fair, with market stalls peddling sweets and cheap tat. The fair is dedicated to La Befana – the old witch. As the pagan legend goes, on the day of Epiphany this 'Mother Christmas' brought presents to good children only; naughty ones found their shoes filled with coal. The climax of the fair comes late on 5 January, when La Befana herself touches down in the piazza.

Festa di Sant'Antonio Abate (17 Jan)
In a rare example of Italian devotion to animal welfare, Romans commemorate the protector of animals, Sant'Antonio Abate, in the church of Sant'Eusebio (piazza Vittorio Emanuele II 12A) on 17 January; those keen to ensure their pets get a place in heaven bring them along to have them blessed.

Mardì Gras and the Carnival celebration
(Feb/early Mar)
In the Middle Ages this riotous last fling before the rigours of Lent was celebrated with wild abandon on Monte Testaccio. Renaissance popes, anxious to keep an eye on their debauched subjects, brought the ceremony to via del Corso. Nowadays young Roman tykes dressed up in their finery are paraded about by their proud parents.

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Festa di Santa Francesca Romana (9 Mar)
In 1433 Santa Francesca Romana founded the Oblate di Maria, an order of nuns who never took final vows. She was believed to possess the gift of dislocation – being in several different places at once – a quality that so endeared her to Italy's pioneer motorists that they made her their patron saint. Devout Roman drivers get their motors blessed at her church in the Foro Romano on 9 March.

Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne (16 Mar 8am-1pm)
San Filippo Neri performed one of his most celebrated miracles in the palazzo of the noble Massimo family. Called to administer the last rites to young Paolo Massimo, the saint found the boy already dead; undaunted, he revived Paolo, chatted for a while, then when the boy was ready to meet his maker, commended him to God. On the anniversary, after a private mass, a procession of family, servants and altar boys escorts the presiding cardinal or archbishop to a private room for a slap-up buffet. Turn up around 11.30am to witness the spectacle in all its Felliniesque glory.

Sabaudia - Santuario Sorresca
Festa di San Giuseppe (19 Mar)
Though no longer an official public holiday, the feast of St Joseph remains popular, especially in the Trionfale district of northern Rome. In the run-up to the feast, the city's pasticcerie are piled high with deep-fried batter-balls called bignè di San Giuseppe.

Maratona della Città di Roma (3rd or 4th Sun in Mar)
Rome's annual marathon now attracts big-name runners. The serious race begins and ends in via dei Fori Imperiali; sign up online (the sooner you register, the lower the fee). The Stracittadina fun-run is a 5km (3-mile) jog through the centro storico for those not up to the 42km (26-mile) slog over cobblestones; sign up at the Marathon Village (usually in the Palazzo dei Congressi in EUR, but check online) up to a day before the event.
Tel and website: 06 406 5064

Festa di Primavera – Mostra delle Azalee (end Mar, early Apr)
Spring arrives early in Rome, bringing masses of blooms. When the azaleas come out, some 3,000 vases of them are arranged on the Spanish Steps.

Settimana Santa and Pasqua (Holy Week and Easter)
Tourists and pilgrims flood into the city on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, cramming inside St Peter's square for the open-air mass. The non-stop services of Holy Week peak in the pope's Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis) and mass at the Colosseum late on the evening of Good Friday. On Pasquetta (Easter Monday), tradition coaxes Romans fuori porta (outside the city gates) to feast upon lavish picnics of such specialities as torta pasqualina (cheesy bread, with salami and hard-boiled eggs) and fave e pecorino (broad beans and cheese).

Giornate FAI (April)
For one weekend each spring, the Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano (FAI) persuades institutional and private owners of historic properties to reveal their spectacular interiors, usually off-limits to the public.
Tel and website: information 06 689 6752 /

Settimana della Cultura - Cultural Heritage Week (April)
During Cultural Heritage Week, the state-owned museums and monuments throw their doors open to the public without charge.
Tel and website: 800 991 199 /

Sana a Roma – Natural Bio Products Fair (April)
This Mediterranean Trade Fair for Natural Products has been organized for a few years now at the Rome Trade Fair District. Exhibitions of bio-products, conferences and tasting.

Natale di Roma – Rome birthday (21 April)
Not all cities celebrate their birthday but Rome, 'born' in 753 BC, is no ordinary city. The bulk of the festivities take place at the Campidoglio. The city hall and the other palazzi on the hill are illuminated, and enormous quantities of fireworks are set off.

Festa della Liberazione (25 Apr)
This public holiday commemorates the liberation of Italy by Allied forces at the end of World War II.

Fotografia – Rome Photography Festival (Apr-May)
Rome's annual photography festival puts on a wide range of exhibitions in venues across the city, from historic museums to avant-garde backstreet galleries.
Tel and website: information 06 7047 500 /

Primo Maggio – May Day (1st of May)
On May Day, trade unions organise a huge, free rock concert, which is traditionally held in front of the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. Performers, mainly Italian, with a smattering of international has-beens-belt out crowd-pleasers from mid afternoon into the small hours.

May Antiques Fair (14-21 May)
If antiques are your thing, then you could do no better than to head for Rome historic centre during the second half of May. Via dei Coronari is the great Mecca for antique hunters from Italy and beyond.

Campionato Internazionale di Tennis -Italian Open (2wks early May)
At the Foro Italico every May, Rome hosts the Italian Open tennis tournament, one of the most important European clay-court challenges outside the Grand Slam, and a warm-up event for the French Open.
Tel and website: 06 3283 7240 /

Concorso Ippico di Piazza di Siena - International Horse Show (27-30 May)
Rome's jet-set flock to this international show-jumping event in leafy Villa Borghese.
Tel and website: 06 638 3818 /

Fantafestival film event (25 May-6 Jun 2010)
One of the most important genre film events in the world, Rome's Fantafestival promotes science fiction, horror and thrillers.

Planning a trip to Rome?
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Or contact us on: Tel: +39 3383435907 (ask for Valerie Dolce)

Castel Porziano - Settimo Cancello

Gay Village (late June-early Sept 7pm-3am daily)
A ten-week open-air bonanza that makes summer the pinkest season of the year: bars, restaurants, live acts, discos, cinema – a great place for boys and girls alike. Venue and contact details change from year to year, but the website reveals all as the date approaches.

Festa di San Giovanni – Saint John Festival (20-24 Jun)
This Christian celebration coincides with the Summer Solstice (Midsummer) celebration held by ancient Romans. These days were considered as black days, due to their connection to death (shortening of daylight). During these days Romans feared witches and their witchcraft. Midsummer celebrations were held in honor of the Roman Goddess of the hearth, Vesta and to Mater Matuta, virgin goddess of the Dawn. Offerings were taken to the temples for blessings on children. Nowadays, in the San Giovanni district, locals observe this saint's celebration by guzzling porchetta (roast suckling pig) and lumache in umido (stewed snails). The main religious highlight is a candlelit procession, usually led by the pope, to San Giovanni in Laterano.

Girandola di Castel S. Angelo (28 Jun)
This annual firework display, designed by Michelangelo, is an almost apocalyptic vision of the city.
Beginning in 1481, the papacy sponsored a spectacular fireworks display, called the Girandola, at the Castel Sant'Angelo, the papal fortress originally constructed as the mausoleum of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Re-created whenever a new pope was elected or crowned as well as on Easter and June 28, the eve of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Girandola was popular with local audiences and tourists alike. Animated crowds populate the dramatically foreshortened Ponte Sant'Angelo, and the explosion of the rockets illuminating the night sky dominates the upper half of the sheet.
For more info go to Zetema Girandola di Castello

Santi Pietro e Paolo (29 Jun)
The two founders of Catholicism are also the twin patron saints of Rome, and each is honoured in his own basilica. At St Peter's a solemn mass is the highlight; celebrations at San Paolo fuori le Mura are focused outside the church, with an all-night street fair on via Ostiense.

Festival delle Letterature (June)
The floodlit basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum provides a theatrical backdrop to readings by some of the most important names in contemporary literature; past guests have included Paul Auster, Hanif Kureishi and Zadie Smith.
Tel and website: 06 3996 7850 /

Sabaudia e Monte Circeo
Roma Incontra il Mondo (mid June-early Aug)
Musicians from around the world play on a lakeside stage beneath the venerable trees of the Villa Ada park. Lights reflected in the water and cool breezes make this one of the most atmospheric and relaxing of the summer festivals. If the music palls there are bars and stalls purveying ethnic food, music and books.
Tel and website: 06 4173 4712 / 06 4173 4648 /

International Chamber Ensemble (June-Aug)
Chamber and symphonic music, as well as opera, takes place in a splendid example of Renaissance architecture: the courtyard of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, the hallowed 15th-century seat of Rome university.
Tel and website: 06 8680 0125 /

Dune di Castel Porziano
Fiesta (Jun-Aug)
This hectic Latin American-themed festival regularly attracts almost a million people over the summer months with performances by Latin American bands, plus appearances by some international rock, pop and hip hop stars. There are four dancefloors, scores of restaurants and stalls... and lots of salsa and merengue. Come early: transport and parking can be a nightmare.
Tel and website: 06 7129 9858 /toll-free credit card bookings 199 109 910 /

Jazz and Image Festival (Jun-Aug)
This festival takes place in the leafy Villa Celimontana park and features acclaimed artists (from Incognito to Italian jazz star Stefano Bollani) in an astonishingly beautiful setting. Lots of candles and torches give the place a magical aura. Wine and food stands complete the idyll.
Tel and website: 06 5833 57817 /

Santa Marinella - Castello Odescalchi "Not a sandcastle"

Estate Romana (Jun-Sept)
During the event-packed Estate Romana (Roman Summer) festival, piazze, palazzi, parks and courtyards come alive with music from local bands, films are shown on outdoor screens late into the night, and cultural events such as readings and gastronomic events take place in venues around town. Estate Romana events attract the participation of thousands of artists from all over the world.

Many events are free; check local press for details. The website may change its address; it can, however, be accessed through the town council website at or at

Cosmophonies – Festival Internazionale di Ostia Antica (Jun-Sept)
Held in the breathtaking scenario of the ancient Roman theatre of Ostia Antica, Cosmophonies is an international festival of theatre, dance and music dishing out acts like Sonic Youth, Morrissey, Caetano Veloso and Jackson Browne. No matter what's happening on stage, these unique surroundings make for a memorable night.
Tel and website: 333 200 4329 /

Sabaudia Lago di Paola

Donna Sotto le Stelle (July)
The annual Roman appointment with high fashion. Creations by the most famous fashion designers are modeled on a catwalk in a truly magnificent setting: on the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna.

Madonna del Carmelo
Festa de Noantri (mid July)
Two weeks of arts events and street performances follow, and fireworks round off the closing night. Though few traces of Trastevere's working-class roots remain today, the area's residents celebrate its humble origins with gusto during the Festa de Noantri. During Noiantri festivities the inhabitants of Trastevere descend the streets of their district to socialise with their neighbours, dressing street tables with food and wine to share, singing and dancing traditional songs. Festivities kick off with a procession held in honour of the Madonna del Carmine, to whom the whole shebang is theoretically dedicated.

Concerti all'Orto Botanico (July)
In Largo Cristina di Svezia 24, Trastevere
Organised by the Associazione Musicale Romana, these concerts – which include Gershwin and Piazzola as well as mainstream chamber music – take place in the botanical gardens, where a natural amphitheatre makes for a lovely venue for a limited number of spectators. Booking essential.
Tel and website: 06 686 8441 /06 3936 6322 /fax 06 3936 6229 /

Cineporto (July-Aug)
One of the most successful and popular summer film festivals is in the park by the Stadio Olimpico. There are two separate screens, each of them showing two dubbed films a night, often recent releases. Live concerts of mainly Italian bands are presented between shows on many nights.
Tel and website: 06 3600 5556 /

Stagione Estiva del Teatro dell'Opera – Terme di Caracalla (Jul-Aug)
The Terme di Caracalla are the spectacular venue for the Opera di Roma's summer season. This is a breathtaking archaeological site. Set designers usually exploit the unique backdrop of majestic Roman ruins with few props and dramatic lighting. Back-row seats are very far away from the stage – so don't forget binoculars.
Tel and website: 06 4816 0255 /

Roma Alta Moda – Rome Fashion show (5 days late Jan; 5 days mid July)
Though often in the shade of glitzier, trendier Milan, Rome's fashion community is treated twice a year to a sneak preview of the coming season's collections by Roman designers, and an appearance by a handful of international talent.
Tel and website: information 06 678 1313 /

Rome Dance Festival “Invito alla Danza” – Villa Pamphli (mid July)
This annual dance fest is held in the beautiful gardens of the Villa Pamphili. The programme, with both classical and modern offerings, presents a performance every evening for about two weeks, and often includes international companies and stars.
Tel and website: 06 5831 0086 - 06 5831 0086 - 06 3973 8323

New Opera Festival - Piazza San Clemente, Celio (mid July-mid Aug)
This festival offers talented young musicians and singers from Italy and the US the chance to perform in the courtyard of the basilica of San Clemente. There's always at least one fully fledged opera, plus chamber music and a series of recitals.
Tel and website: 347 852 4241 /

Mille e Una Nota chamber music festival (Aug)
Santa Maria della Pace, Arco della Pace 5, Pantheon and Navona
This charming little chamber music festival has been going for over ten years in the magnificent cloister of Santa Maria della Pace. Box office 1hr before concerts. Tel: 06 780 7695 - 06 780 7695

Festa delle Catene - San Pietro in Vincoli (1 Aug)
The chains that allegedly bound St Peter in prison in Jerusalem, and those with which he was shackled in Rome, are displayed in a special mass at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli.

Festa della Madonna della Neve (5 Aug)
August 5, 352AD saw an unseasonal snowfall on the Esquiline Hill, an event which is still remembered at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The day is marked with a special mass, culminating in a blizzard of rose petals which flutter down from the roof on to the congregation.

Notte di San Lorenzo - night's shooting stars (10 Aug)
San Lorenzo in Panisperna, via Panisperna 90
On the night of 10 August, Roman eyes turn towards the heavens, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the night's shooting stars. Some explain the phenomenon as the fall-out of a meteor entering orbit, while the more poetic attribute the falling stars to the tears shed by St Lawrence, martyred in Rome on this day in 258.

Ferragosto - Feast of the Assumption (15 Aug)
Those who haven't scarpered to the coast for the whole of August take a long weekend for the Feast of the Assumption, and most of the city closes down.

Planning a trip to Rome?
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Or contact us on: Tel: +39 3383435907 (ask for Valerie Dolce)


Buenos Aires Tango Festival (mid Sept)
Auditorium-Parco della Musica.
A world-class tango festival, Buenos Aires Tango, features fantastic tango dancers and performances as well as open classes and a milonga.
Tel and website: 06 8024 1281 /

Enzimi free music, theatre and arts festival (mid Sept)
This free music, theatre and arts festival – a showcase for the best up-and-coming artists – is council-funded and aimed at thirtysomethings and younger. Held in an array of unlikely locations, it hosts cutting-edge local bands and some international stars, skilfully mixing mainstream acts with offbeat sounds – the perfect opportunity to see what's new in the city's artistic circles. Website:

Roma Europa Festival (Sept-Nov)
This has been an annual appointment since 1986 for modern art and theatre, music and dance, with artists from all over Europe appearing. Rome's cutting-edge performing arts festival offers music, dance and theatre, with an eclectic mix of international acts and emerging young talent. Buy tickets at the venues themselves or by phone or online  book well in advance for big-name acts.

Comics and Cartoon Festival (Oct)
The Comics and Cartoon Festival: exhibitions, cartoon film showings and meeting with the most famous designers and publishing companies.

Roma Jazz Festival (Oct)
This annual festival totally dedicated to jazz music was organized for the first time in 1876. Italian and international artists all appear in concert.

Roma Film Festival – Festa Internazionale del Cinema (Oct)
Started in 2006, Rome finally got itself a film festival to match its iconic cinematic status, giving the city's once glorious film industy a much-needed shot in the arm. Organisational hitches should be ironed out as the festival gains in maturity. Linked to another feisty newcomer – New York's Tribeca Film Festival – this event has both arthouse kudos and the money to attract the stars and the big players. Website:

Ognissanti - All Saints' Day (1, 2 Nov)
Otherwise known as Tutti santi, All Saints' Day (Ognissanti) is followed by La commemorazioni dei defunti (or Tutti i morti), when the pope celebrates mass at Verano Cemetery. Romans travel en masse to visit family graves.

Planning a trip to Rome?
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Or contact us on: Tel: +39 3383435907 (ask for Valerie Dolce)

Public holidays
On public holidays (giorni festivi) virtually all shops, banks and businesses close, although (with the exception of May Day, 15 August and Christmas Day) bars and restaurants tend to stay open. There's only limited public transport on 1 May and Christmas afternoon.
  • New Year's Day (Capodanno) 1 Jan
  • Epiphany (La Befana) 6 Jan
  • Easter Monday (Pasquetta)
  • Liberation Day 25 Apr
  • May Day 1 May
  • Patron Saints' Day (Santi Pietro e Paolo) 29 June
  • Feast of the Assumption (Ferragosto) 15 Aug
  • All Saints (Tutti i santi) 1 Nov
  • Immaculate Conception (Festa dell'Immacolata) 8 Dec
  • Christmas Day (Natale) 25 Dec
  • Boxing Day (Santo Stefano) 26 Dec

Planning a trip to Rome?
Send us your travel inquiries, itinerary and comments on 
Or contact us on: Tel: +39 3383435907 (ask for Valerie Dolce)

For more information on Rome Events visit:
Rome’s Tourist Office official site at
Vatica’s official site at
Rome Guide Italy at
Rome Time Out at

1 comment:

  1. We have to plan a trip to Rome. This looks like it will be so much fun. My wife loves Italian food so I don't think it will be very difficult to convince her.