Tanti auguri a Roma, the Eternal City is celebrating its 2763rd birthday. For an old gal, she is still full of vigor, vitality and verve. The city that was started by orphaned demigods has never forgotten its semi-supernatural birth, somehow pinpointing its fateful founding moment to April 21 and parlaying it into a party celebrating its past.
The mythical origins of Rome come from the legendary pairing of pagan god Mars with a vestal virgin, who gave birth to twins, Romulus and Remus. Modern Romans are ever aware of their partial deity origins as well as her place in world history, which is why they consider their city the center of the universe- or at least the center of Italian culture, history and politics. A couple of Roman friends weren't too amused by the title of a play that was performed in Ascoli Piceno last year, "Ascoli era Ascoli quando Roma era pascoli" - rough translation: Ascoli was already a city when Rome was still a pasture. While they conceded the historical truth, they also pointed out that Rome subsequently conquered and destroyed Ascoli, then rebuilt it as a Roman city, whose street pattern and ruins remain.
The birthday bash will go on all week with elaborately costumed re-enactments, parades and concerts, lavish banquets, long-winded speeches, chariot races, and eye-popping fireworks. Admission to the city's museums will be free.
If you can't be in Rome to celebrate, don't fret, you can still fete at home:
*Tie on a toga and do dinner like the ancients with this rundown of Roman recipes.
Prefer to eat something from this millenium? Kyle Phillips offers a lot of classic dishes from the Rome region. Or order a more modern specialty, Pesto alla Romana, developed by my friend Giorgio, utilizing the flavors of the countryside - mint, hazelnuts and pecorino romano.
*Learn your Roman name. (Mine would Gaia Valeria Fortuna...has a nice ring, don't you think?)
*See the scenery of the bella citta' through a slew of web cams. Secret Rome's photos capture candid shots and spectacular spots all over town. Roma Every Day gives you a daily photo fix.
*Light some torches and sing a rousing rendition of Tanti auguri a te, while eating a Nutella birthday cake.
Happy Birthday, Roma! Still bella after all these years!
Graphic credit: Ancient Worlds.net