Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome

The Arch of Septimus Severus, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Rome, Italy (Photo by Alexander Z.)
The Arch of Septimus Severus

Rome: The Arch of Septimus Severus (1742) by Canaletto, now in the British Royal Collection, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Rome, Italy. (Photo Public Domain)
Umbilicus Urbis—the Bellybutton of Rome, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Rome, Italy. (Photo by Karlheinz Meyer)
The curving steps up to the Rostra, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Rome, Italy. (Photo by Cassius Ahenobarbus)

The triumphal Arch of Septimius Severus (AD 203) displays time-bitten reliefs of the emperor's victories in what are today Iran and Iraq.

This was one of the few bits of the Forum to remain above ground throughout the Middle Ages, and appears in many Romantic-era etchings and paintings of the overgrown, pre-excavation Forum

Up against the south side of the arch are the remains of a cylindrical lump of rock with some marble steps curving off it.

That round stone was the Umbilicus Urbus, considered the center of Rome and of the entire Roman empire, and the curving steps of the Imperial Rostra, where great orators and legislators stood to speak and the people gathered to listen.

Photo gallery
  • The Arch of Septimus Severus, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Italy (Photo by Alexander Z.)
  • Rome: The Arch of Septimus Severus (1742) by Canaletto, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Umbilicus Urbis—the Bellybutton of Rome, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Italy (Photo by Karlheinz Meyer)
  • The curving steps up to the Rostra, Forum: The Arch of Septimius Severus & the bellybutton of Rome, Italy (Photo by Cassius Ahenobarbus)
TK TK
Forum: The Arch Of Septimius Severus & The Bellybutton Of Rome tours
 
More tours
 
 

Tips

Free admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Roman Forum for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

» more on discounts & passes
How long does the Roman Forum take?

You could wander through the Roman Forum in an hour or two, but many people spend four or five hours and pack a picnic lunch to eat on the Palatine (technically illegal; see below).

The ticket office closes one hour before the site.

Book Forum tickets ahead of time

Lines at the Forum can last up to half an hour in summer. To save your precious vacation time, it's well-worth paying the €1.50 fee to book your entry ahead of time (tel. 06-3996-7700, www.coopculture.it or at Viator.com)—though if you're visiting in off-season, the wait is usually more like 10–15 minutes so booking might not be necessary.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).