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Roma’s turns 2770 years old today!  Auguri Roma.  The day of Roma’s foundation is called ‘Natale di Roma’.  You may be thinking… Christmas of Roma?  Huh? Christmas is called Natale in Italiano, but the word natale, with a lower case ‘n’, actually means birth-so today is the celebration of the birth of Roma. The exact date, April 21, 753 BC, was determined by Marcus Terentius Varro, a 1st Century BC Roman scholar.

According to legend, on this date Roma was founded by orphaned twins Romolo and Remo (Romulus and Remus in Latin).  Their dramatic story shares plotlines with those of Hamlet, Moses and Cain and Abel!  They were children of Mercury, God of War, and Rea Silvia, the daughter of Numitore, ex King of Alba Longa, which was 19 km southeast of Roma. Rea Silvia’s family were descendants of Aeneas, the Greek Trojan war refugee. Aeneas’ son Ascanio was the founder and first king of Alba Longa. Numitore’s brother Amulio ousted him.  To insure Numitor would have no heirs, Amulio killed his son, and forced Rea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin. When the gemelli were born in 771 BC, Amulio ordered them to be drowned in the Tevere.

The servants who were to drown the babies set them afloat in a basket on the river instead.  They washed up near the Palatino (Palatine Hill) and were found and nurtured by a lupa (she-wolf) who had lost her newborn cubs. *Interesting note- at the time, the word ‘lupa‘ could also mean prostitute! Romolo and Remo were found by a shepherd, Faustilo. He and his wife Larentia took them in and raised them.

Romolo and Remo grew up to be leaders of a group of shepherd warriors.  When they found out that they were the true heirs to Alba Longa, they attacked, killed Amulio and restored their Nonno Numitore as king. Fresh from their revenge and still full of adrenaline, Romolo and Remo decided they would build a city of their own near where they were found by the lupa.  Romolo wanted to build on the Palatine Hill (where the Forum is) and Remo wanted to build on the Aventine.  They disagreed and fought, with Romolo accidentally killing his brother in the process.  And so began the long, bloody, politically charged history of Ancient Roma.  Romolo built the city on the Palatino and named her Roma after himself.

Gruppo Storico Romano organizes many festivities in Roma today, including a live reenactment of Il Natale di Roma at Circo Massimo.

Ciao e buon 2770mo compleanno Roma, Cristina