Watching the world go by in Rome is often entertainment enough, but there are plenty of organised events to capture your attention too. As well as gigs and concerts in every genre, there are some excellent arts festivals (especially in summer), opera performances with Roman ruins as a backdrop, and football games that bring the city to a standstill.
Rome's abundance of beautiful settings makes it a superb place to catch a concert. Many international stars play at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, a state-of-the-art, Renzo Piano–designed complex that combines architectural innovation with perfect acoustics. However, there are often creative uses of other spaces. In past years there have been major gigs on the ancient racetrack Circo Massimo, and Coldplay have even played on the Imperial Rome film set at Cinecittà.
Music in Rome is not just about catching Rome's world-class Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (www.santacecilia.it) at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. There are concerts by the Accademia Filarmonica Romana at Teatro Olimpico; the Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome’s premier classical-music venue before the newer auditorium was opened, is still a force to be reckoned with; and the Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti holds concerts in the Aula Magna of La Sapienza University.
Free classical concerts are held in many of Rome’s churches, especially at Easter and around Christmas and New Year; look out for information at Rome’s tourist kiosks. Rome's second-largest church after St Peter's, the Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura, hosts an important choral mass on 25 January and the hymn 'Te Deum' is sung at the Chiesa del Gesù on 31 December.
Opera & Dance
Rome’s opera house, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, is a grandiose venue but its productions can be a bit hit and miss. It's also home to Rome’s official Corps de Ballet and has a ballet season running in tandem with its opera performances. Both ballet and opera move outdoors for the summer season at the ancient Roman baths Terme di Caracalla, which is an even more spectacular setting.
You can also see opera in various other outdoor locations; check listings or at the tourist information kiosks for details.
Rome's Auditorium Parco della Musica hosts classical and contemporary dance performances, as well as the Equilibrio Festival of new dance in February and March. The Auditorium Conciliazione is another good place to catch contemporary-dance companies.
Jazz, Rock & Pop
Besides the Auditorium Parco della Musica, large concerts also take place at sports stadiums, including Stadio Olimpico and the racetrack on the Appia Nuova, the Ippodromo La Capannelle.
The centri sociali, alternative arts centres set up in venues around Rome, are also good places to catch a gig. One of the best of these is Brancaleone in northern Rome, which programs hip-hop, electro, dubstep, reggae and dancehall.
Cinema under the Stars
There are various atmospheric outdoor summer film festivals; check festival websites for program and ticketing details. The Isola del Cinema shows independent films in the romantic setting of the Isola Tiberina annually from mid-June to September. This runs in conjunction with the riverside Lungo il Tevere festival.
Rome has a thriving local theatre scene, with theatres including both traditional places and smaller experimental venues. Performances are usually in Italian.
Particularly wonderful are the summer festivals that make use of Rome’s archaeological scenery. Performances take place in settings such as Villa Adriana in Tivoli, Ostia Antica’s Roman theatre and the Teatro di Marcello.
In Rome you’re either for AS Roma (giallorossi – yellow and reds) or Lazio (biancazzuri – white and blues), with both teams playing in Serie A (Italy’s premier league). A striking new 52,500-seat stadium – a contemporary glass-and-steel structure inspired by the Colosseum – is planned for Roma at Tor di Valle in southwest Rome, but construction is yet to commence and the development process has been mired in allegations of corruption; current estimates have it opening in 2023 at the earliest. Both sets of supporters have an unfortunate controversial minority who have been known to cause trouble at matches.
September to May there’s a game at home for Roma or Lazio almost every weekend, and a trip to Rome’s football stadium, the Stadio Olimpico, is an unforgettable experience. Note that ticket-purchase regulations are strict. Tickets have to bear the holder’s name and passport or ID number, and you must present a photo ID at the turnstiles when entering the stadium. Two tickets are permitted per purchase for Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League games. Tickets cost from €10 to €750. You can buy them online at the AS Roma website (www.asroma.com), from TicketOne (www.ticketone.it; telephone 89 21 01), at authorised TicketOne sales points (check its website) or one of the A S Roma or Lazio stores around the city. To get to the stadium, take metro line A to Ottaviano–San Pietro, then bus 32.
A S Roma vs Lazio
The Rome derby is one of the football season’s highest-profile games. The rivalry between Roma and Lazio is fierce, and little love is lost between the fans. If you go to the Stadio Olimpico, make sure you get it right – Roma fans (in deep red with a natty orange trim) flock to the Curva Sud (southern stand), while Lazio supporters (in light blue) stand in the Curva Nord (northern stand). If you want to sit on the fence, head to the Tribuna Tevere or Tribuna Monte Mario.
For more details on the clubs, check out www.asroma.it and www.sslazio.it.
Basketball is a popular spectator sport in Rome, though it inspires nothing like the fervour of football. Rome’s team, Virtus Roma (www.virtusroma.it), plays throughout the winter months at the Palalottomatica in EUR.
Italy’s rugby team, the Azzurri (the Blues), entered the Six Nations tournament in 2000, although success has been scarce. The team currently plays home international games at the Stadio Olimpico.
Italy’s premier tennis tournament, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia (www.internazionalibnlditalia.com) is one of the most important events on the European tennis circuit. Every May the world’s top players meet on the clay courts at the monumental, Fascist-era Foro Italico. Tickets can usually be bought at the Foro Italico each day of the tournament, except for the final days, which are sold out weeks in advance.
Rome’s top equestrian event is the Piazza di Siena showjumping competition (www.piazzadisiena.org), an annual international event held in May, gorgeously set in Villa Borghese.
Need to Know
- Comune di Roma (www.060608.it)
- Romeing (www.romeing.it)
- In Rome Now (www.inromenow.com)
- Rome Opera Omnia (www.romaoperaomnia.com)
- Eventful (http://rome.eventful.com)
Tickets for concerts, live music and theatrical performances are widely available across the city. Prices range enormously depending on the venue and artist. Hotels can often reserve tickets for guests, or you can contact the venue or organisation directly – check listings publications for booking details. Otherwise you can try the following: