On April 21st, Rome celebrated its 2773rd birthday. The magnificent parades throughout the city that usually mark this occasion were replaced this year by a low-key commemoration broadcast online and on television. That this vibrant and joyful event, always a highlight of Rome’s calendar, could not be celebrated to its fullest was a shame, to be sure. However, in a way, Rome’s birthday could not have fallen at a better time. The arrival at this impressive milestone sent a very clear and reassuring message when we most needed it: Rome is truly indomitable. It was over two thousand years ago that Rome was first described as “The Eternal City”, and it has lived up to this moniker time and again across the millennia.

Of course, Rome has been fortunate enough not to have suffered the crisis as intensely as in the northern regions of Italy, and this has made it easier for us to weather the storm. With the threat less perceptible in Rome and in regions to the south, this could have sparked complacency in disregarding the lockdown. However, Italy showed its true colours in a time of crisis by unifying and working together in order to aid the fight against the virus as soon as possible; “io resto a casa” (“I stay at home”) was embraced across the country. Thanks to the collective isolation effort guided by level-headed leadership, the situation has calmed. We now find ourselves at the beginning of Phase Two of the lockdown, cautious and shaken to be sure, but ready to begin revitalising the city.

Videos and photographs showing an empty Rome circulated online during the lockdown, entrancing people all over the world – not least those who call the city home. Seeing Rome in this way – stunningly beautiful as ever, lonely, but resilient – filled us with pride in our home city (whether native or adopted) and made us yearn to get back to it. That moment is now imminent and we will return to Rome’s streets and piazzas with more appreciation for the city than ever before.

We invite you to join us as we venture back into our beloved city, which finds itself for once in a moment of stillness and quiet, and to adopt Rome as your own.

Read the article 'Rome, Eternally' for an AUR alumna's reflections on living and studying in the Eternal City.

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