Of the (rough estimate) 147 million things I love about Rome, one of my favorites is how so many of the ancient ruins here are not simply “Look, but don’t touch”. That’s not to say that they’re going to be restarting naval battles in the Colosseum any time soon, but so many of the incredible, historic sites that literally litter this city are not closed off and reserved for archaeologists, but have been re-purposed as public spaces integrated into the life and culture of the city. An excellent example of this was the 100,000 people gathering in the Circus Maximus – a stadium that traces its roots back to the third century BC and Romulus, first King of Rome – on Sunday evening to watch Italy’s valiant effort in the Euro 2012 final, but a slightly more refined example takes place annually just around the corner at the Terme di Caracalla.
This ancient baths complex, built by the Emperor Caracalla in the early 3rd century AD, transforms into the home of Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera every summer, when the capital’s ballet and opera company takes its season outside from June through August. With a small seating capacity and a stage constructed between crumbling yet sturdy granite, tufa, and quicklime walls and columns, an evening in the Terme di Caracalla proves to be an unparalleled way to enjoy some music and dancing.
This season, the company is presenting the ballet Giselle from now until July 10th, followed by Verdi’s Atilla and Bellini’s Norma, with a smattering of special events in between. The full schedule for the summer is available here, and you can buy tickets online at Listicket, starting at 25 euro.