Natale di Roma – Tuesday 21
Believe it or not, Rome turns 2773 years old today! (We don’t think she looks a day over 2000!) According to legend, Romulus founded Rome on 21 April 753 BC, and every year on that date, the city throws itself a fantastic birthday party. Although the historical reenactment and procession that usually take place on this date may likely be cancelled (announcement not yet made by date of publishing), you can still mark Rome’s birthday in a special way. The Pantheon, the world’s best preserved ancient building, was designed in such a way as to allow a powerful beam of light to pass through the oculus and straight out the doors of the monument at exactly midday on the city’s birthday.
Easter – Sunday 12
Since public Vatican events are not guaranteed this year, we recommend doing what Italians do on Easter: eating! Italian Easter culinary traditions include lamb, pizza rustica, a savory pie with ricotta and cured meat, and pana pasquale, bread with bits of salami baked inside. In addition, Pasqua arrives with a slew of sweet treats. Most famous is the colomba, a soft yellow cake in the shape of a dove covered in almonds and beads of sugar. The pastiera is a sweet egg-based pie traditionally from Naples, but now widely enjoyed in Rome as well. But of course the biggest attraction is the hollow chocolate Easter egg. They come in all sizes, from the tiny Kinder egg that can fit in your hand to enormous ones that could fit a small person inside. Best part: each egg hides a toy or prize. Pick up these treats at your local bakery.
Pasquetta – Monday 22
One of the sweetest things about Easter in Italy is that the Monday after is a national holiday. Dubbed Pasquetta or “little Easter,” this is the day Romans pack their picnic baskets and head out of town to the countryside to enjoy a lazy day of good food, wine, and company. Follow their example and plan a picnic in one of Rome’s enormous public parks. Villa Pamphilj, with its manicured lawns and groves of umbrella pine trees, Villa Ada, lush and wild, and Villa Borghese with its panoramic views and lovely lake, are Rome’s largest and most welcoming parks. Traditional ingredients for this much-loved day are fava beans, hard-boiled eggs, cold meats and cheeses, and grilled veggies, such as zucchini and artichoke.
Emperor Concerto – from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25
Take in a performance of one of the best-loved works in the entire classical piano canon, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto, no. 5, known by music lovers simply as the “Emperor.” Grammy-winning American pianist Emanuel Ax interprets this rousing work, with Israeli conductor Lahav Shani at the podium leading the Santa Cecilia National Orchestra. Also on the bill is Mahler’s Symphony, no. 1 “Titan.” santacecilia.it
Liberation Day – Saturday 25
This national holiday commemorates the end of Nazi rule in Italy and the triumph of the Italian resistance. One of the most joyful days in Italian history, it marked the end of 23 years of Fascist dictatorship and five years of war. Since the holiday falls at one of the loveliest times of the year in Rome, Italians can be counted on to spend the day taking long aimless walks around the city. A popular passeggiata begins at the Spanish Steps, ambles down posh Via Condotti where the window-shopping will make you drool, and continues down bustling Via del Corso to Piazza Venezia, where the towering and immaculately white Altar of the Fatherland houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Kat’a Kabanova – from Sunday 19 to Tuesday 28
If you’ve heard enough Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart to last a lifetime, the Teatro dell’Opera has something in store for you this month. The rarely performed Kát’a Kabanová, the first mature work by Czech composer Leoš Janáček, goes up at Teatro Costanzi, a co-production with the Royal Opera House of Covent Garden, with stage direction by Richard Jones. David Robertson wields the baton of this production made up almost entirely of British singers. The opera, which was directly inspired by Janáček’s own unrequited love story, will be performed in the original Czech with supertitles in Italian and English. operaroma.it