Forum: The Temple of Vesta and its Vestal Virgins

The atrium of the House of the Vestal Virgins, Forum: The Temple of Vesta and its Vestal Virgins, Rome, Italy (Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)
The atrium of the House of the Vestal Virgins

The Temple of Vesta (Latin Aedes Vestae, Italian Tempio di Vesta) is an ancient edifice in Rome, Italy, located in the Roman Forum near the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins. The temple's most recognizable feature is its circular footprint. S, Forum: The Temple of Vesta and its Vestal Virgins, Rome, Italy. (Photo by Carole Raddato)

Beyond the bit of curving wall that marks the site of the little round Temple of Vesta (rebuilt several times after fires started by the sacred flame housed within), you'll find the partially reconstructed House of the Vestal Virgins (AD 3rd–4th centuries) against the south side of the grounds.

This was home to the consecrated young women who tended the sacred flame in the Temple of Vesta.

Vestal virgins were young girls (between ages six and ten) selected from patrician families to serve a 30-year priestesshood. During their tenure they were among Rome's most venerated citizens, with unique powers, such as the ability to pardon a condemned criminals.

The cult of the goddess Vesta was quite serious about the "virgin" part of the job description. If any of Vesta's earthly servants were found to have, er, "misplaced" her virginity, the miscreant Vestal was summarily buried alive. (Her amorous accomplice would merely be flogged to death.)

The overgrown rectangle of their gardens has lilied goldfish ponds and is lined with broken, heavily worn statues of senior Vestals on pedestals (and, at any given time when the guards aren't looking, a couple of tourists posing as Vestal Virgins on a few of the empty pedestals in between).

Photo gallery
  • The atrium of the House of the Vestal Virgins, Forum: The Temple of Vesta and its Vestal Virgins, Italy (Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)
  • The Temple of Vesta (Latin Aedes Vestae, Italian Tempio di Vesta) is an ancient edifice in Rome, Italy, located in the Roman Forum near the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins. The temple
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Tips

Free admission with a sightseeing card

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

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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.).