Teatro di Marcello ☆☆☆

The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, Teatro di Marcello, Rome, Italy (Photo by Joadl)
The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus

Marcellus's Theater was the Colosseum 1.0, the original Roman amphitheater

The Colosseum may have been the biggest, but the Theater of Marcellus was there first and it served as the model for the later, more famous arena.

It was started by Julius Caesar in 27 BC, but finished under the reign of Augustus Caesar in AD 14, who dedicated the theater in the name of his nephew and one-time heir Marcellus, who had funded the theater's construction for a time until he became ill and died in 23 BC at the age of 19.

In its prime, the travertine Theatre of Marcellus was 33m (108 feet) high, 130m (427 feet) across, and could hold 15,000 to 20,000 spectators. It was covered by a sail to provide shade, had moveable wooden scenery, and was fitted with 36 bronze vases to improve the acoustics. It was adapted and restored over time and remained in use as a theater until the fourth century.

You can admire Roman ingenuity throughout the ages here. In the 13th century, the remains of the theater were used as a foundation to turn it into a fortress, and in the 15th century this was converted by Baldassare Peruzzi into a palazzo for the Savelli family (the Orsini family bought it in the 18th century).

Mussollini's Fascist govnerment—always in love with the glories of Ancient Rome and dreaming of a new empire—cleared away some of the medieval accretions in 1926-32 to reveal what you see today.

The Theater of Marcello is only open upon request, but you can always admire its curving wall in the three classical orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian), as the oft-photographed trio of fluted columns suggesting the corner of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus that once stood next-door.

Photo gallery
  • The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by Joadl)
  • The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by dankamminga)
  • The trio of columns marking the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by jeffwarder)
  • , Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by Kaifmoss)
  • Entering the theater, Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by gmpicket)
  • Under the outer portico, Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by Roxyuru)
  • , Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by Christine Wagner)
  • Three fasci—bundles of sticks, and where the word "Fascist" gets its name—installed in 1929 to commemorate the demolitions of 1926-32, Teatro di Marcello, Italy (Photo by Lalupa)
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Tips

How long does Teatro di Marcello take?

You look at it, you move on. It's a sight to see in passing.

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.).