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The Sleepless White Night of Rome

Famous Festival All Through the Night

fireworks at the white night

The ever amazing Roman sunset light was spreading gold powder on tall pine trees and huge marble balconies. Warm, orange sunlight shone on the microphones of the big stage on the terrace in Gianicolo, where the Maori Manala company was rehearsing one of the approximately 400 events which enlightened he 5th edition of ‘Notte Bianca’. Poetry, music, theatre, circus arts, dance, poetry slams, exhibitions, museums open till dawn and events of all kinds. This was the first, welcoming image in my eyes of the ‘White Night’ in Rome.

white night celebration

Just some hours later, already 2 and a half million people were an active part in the big event flowing in all directions, packing museums, enjoying shopping facilities to all the events spread in different areas of the town.

crowds gather in Italy

This year’s theme was “The World in a Night” , aiming at joining arts, tradition and culture of the five continents. Artists of all countries exhibited their talents for the joy of the endless rivers of people that flew through all the capital’s streets and squares. The spectacular final moment of the longest Night was the enchanting performance of the Dervishes Sufi spinning their love of God and their connection to Universe on that same panoramic terrace on Gianicolo, while dawn was spreading its soft, rosy light on Rome’s roofs and terraces and on the vanishing night.

large crowds at white night

Many astonishing light effects have been created for this Night: one being the breathtaking vision of the 10,000 globes in Circo Massimo changing colors incessantly in the monumental area left in total darkness: it was an unique sight, a sort of extraterrestrial image hard to see elsewhere. Palaces and buildings downtown were enlightened by the lights of different artists’ projects, an installation of mirrors was created in Cesar’s Forum archeological area, and a Festival of fireworks from all different nations added visual impact on the charming lake in Eur. Meanwhile, tango was being danced among the ruins of Fori Imperiali, and the voices of many famous Italian actors were giving life to readings and short plays everywhere.

light effects white night

white night light effects

Famous Italian singers, like Lucio Dalla (his opening concert and all the events being in honor of the recently deceased tenor Pavarotti), Laura Pausini, Franco Battiato were entwining their tunes in the roman breeze with the north African music of the Ensemble de Fez, with opera arias, rock and jazz music and rhythms from all over the world. Museums open all night with all sorts of exhibitions welcomed an amazing, unexpected number of visitors.

music event white night

A wish for political correctness made many artists involved in the event sign a document to Mayor Mr. Veltroni, to remind that the ‘white night’ cannot make people forget the ‘black days’ of social problems. And Mr. Veltroni had wanted to dedicate the Night to Ms. Ingrid Betancourt, a Columbian activist imprisoned for her commitment and her work for social human rights.

crowd white night Italy Rome

The 1 million, 50,000 Euros paid by each of the three big sponsors guaranteed free events and free transportation for everybody, to and from the center to the peripheric and coastal areas.

lighting effects rome italy

Just walking in that huge human compression, seeing the center of Rome completely closed to traffic from Lungotevere to Piazza del Popolo, from Termini station to Coliseum, to my eyes was an added wonder to the many wonders happening. Not even motor bikes, neither bus or taxis – just humans. People walking and moving, flowing in a dense human jam in all directions, in a merry, noisy chaos which surprisingly created no accident or troubles anywhere. And yes, maybe the best pleasure was to be there, to be part of these unthinkable two million five hundred thousand, walking, smiling, enjoying as much as possible this enormous shower of entertainment, this huge joyful free buffet of visual and performing arts.

By Donatella Ruini

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