Rome has undoubtedly been one of the most important cities in the development of modern humankind. These 15 songs about Rome reflect on all the aspects of the Eternal City, from the ancient pagan rulers to the modern day.
1. On an Evening in Roma — Dean Martin
Ask anyone for the first song that comes to mind when they think of Rome, and there’s a good chance they’ll say On An Evening In Roma. This was undoubtedly one of Dean Martin’s most famous tracks and has become a staple of films that take place in the Eternal City.
When it was released in 1959, it was an instant hit, spending 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s not hard to see why—the song perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a warm summer evening in Rome with the person that you love. Martin’s silken voice makes the city sound like the most exciting place in the world.
2. Arrivederci Roma — Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole wasn’t the creator of this popular song. It was first composed in 1955 and featured in the movie Seven Hills Of Rome, where it was sung by Mario Lanza. However, the track received many covers over the years, notably by Dean Martin and Cole.
Rome is popularly known as a city where tourists can experience a brief romance; however, this song is written from the other side—from the perspective of a Roman man thinking back on the romances he has had with tourists who come to visit his city.
3. Three Coins in The Fountain — Frank Sinatra
One of the most famous landmarks in Rome is the Trevi Fountain, which is visited by more than a thousand people every day. The tradition is to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain and make a wish as you do.
Frank Sinatra’s track was recorded for the 1954 film of the same name, which follows three tourists as they explore Rome. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and has been covered countless times ever since—though some people say that no one can live up to the original.
4. Heart of Rome — Elvis
Elvis Presley’s 1971 song Heart Of Rome is a far cry from the massive rock and roll hits of his early career, but nevertheless remains a classic of his final years. The mournful ballad is written from the perspective of a man whose lover has left him behind in Rome.
Though he doesn’t know if he’ll ever see her again, he plans to spend his days saying prayers, throwing coins in fountains, and wandering the city streets in the hopes of finding her.
5. Spanish Steps of Rome — Toto
The band Toto is widely known for their 1982 hit Africa, they also recorded a song that’s all about the Eternal City. Spanish Steps Of Rome was featured on their 1999 album Mindfields. It tells the story of two people meeting and falling in love on the Piazza di Spagna, one of Rome’s most iconic staircases.
The track goes on to describe the lovers hunting for one another throughout the city, mentioning several well-known landmarks along the way. These include the catacombs, the Trevi fountain, and the statues of the wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.
6. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day — Morcheeba
We’ve all heard the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” which is generally used to mean that good work is done one small step at a time. English band Morcheeba used the saying to describe two lovers building their relationship.
They want to rush ahead and get to the intense declarations of love, but they know that to build something that lasts, they need to take it slow. If the success of the Roman Empire was any indication, the saying holds true.
7. Fall of Rome — Shawn Colvin
The Roman Empire lasted more than 1,000 years before falling in 476 CE. In her 2012 song Fall Of Rome, Shawn Colvin describes the ending of an era. It’s not entirely clear if she means to describe the actual fall of the empire, but it seems to be metaphorical; she also makes references to other catastrophic endings, including the sinking of the Titanic and the destruction of Pompeii. Whatever has happened, it’s clear there is no coming back from it. Rome will never rise again.
8. Autumn in Rome — Peggy Lee
The song Autumn In Rome was written for the 1953 film Stazione Termini, or Indiscretions Of An American Wife, which follows the story of a month-long affair between an Italian man and a married American tourist.
But it is probably best remembered for its cover by Peggy Lee. The track describes a long-ago romance in Rome, with the narrator describing how scenes around the city are fixed in their mind. It has been covered many times since its original release and is now better known than the film itself.
9. Rome — Phoenix
French band Phoenix released Rome in 2009, proving that songs about having a fling on vacation in Rome have no expiration date. The track was inspired by the French people’s love of Rome and how it is seen as a destination of ultimate romance and adventure.
It also describes the ways that people tend to build up the prospect of relationships in their heads, while reality can’t possibly hold up. This can lead to these relationships crumbling—much like the Roman ruins themselves.
10. Early Roman Kings — Bob Dylan
Early Roman Kings is one of Bob Dylan’s more recent works, appearing on his 2012 album Tempest. The song is a criticism of the evil men in power throughout different eras of history, making nods to the kings of Rome as well as modern rulers.
Other connections are made in the reference to the Roman Kings, a street gang active in New York in the 1960s. In typical Dylan fashion, the track’s lyrics are as complex as they are clever, weaving the common theme from ancient Rome to the modern day.
11. The Roman Road — Super Furry Animals
There are plenty of ways to interpret The Roman Road by Super Furry Animals. The song leans unashamedly into its own bizarre lyrics, with references to fighting German aircraft with a kite and talking to goats about the shape of the universe.
However, the overarching theme of the track seems to be the interconnectedness of the world, as referenced in the saying “All roads lead to Rome.” The lyrics describe the narrator’s home as a “pitstop” on the way to Rome, where there is “scheming and a-dreaming there is reason to be living.”
12. Fontana di Trevi — Achille Togliani
Achille Togliani’s dreamy song isn’t well-known in the English-speaking world. The track is a sweet ode to the Trevi fountain and all the promises that it holds. He describes it as a promise for those who believe in love and dream of having someone to call their own.
Call it sentimental, but if there is one thing Italians know how to do without apology, it’s sentiment. And it’s a beautiful thing. Even the most stoic will have a hard time resisting his stunning performance as he describes his hopeful search for the love of his life.
13. Roman Guitar — Lou Monte
Lou Monte wasn’t the first person to sing Roman Guitar. In fact, the earliest version happened more than 20 years before his time. It was originally an Italian song, Chitarra Romana, recorded by Carlo Buti in 1935. In 1956, Monte’s English adaptation became a classic.
The singer’s version alternates English and Italian verses in this beautiful love track. Most of us would like to imagine a lover serenading us with a guitar under the Roman stars, a picture the song paints to perfection. Romeo And Juliet doesn’t take place in Rome, but if it did it might sound like this.
14. When in Rome — Tony Bennett And Bill Evans
When In Rome was first recorded in 1964 by Peggy Lee—who seemed to enjoy singing about Rome. Eleven years later, Tony Bennett and Bill Evans covered the song, which is styled as a kind of breakup track.
Well, not exactly. The narrator says he’s off to Rome and that his lover shouldn’t begrudge him a vacation fling with another woman. Why? Because he’s just trying to be respectful of the local culture, which apparently involves romance with a stranger. No word on whether that excuse was successful for the narrator.
15. Knowledge is Power — The Ethiopians
Many famous tracks about Rome are love songs, but this track by The Ethiopians is a bit different. It describes how funny it is to live in Rome alongside the pope—inarguably one of the most important figures in the world.
Most of us can’t exactly relate to that experience, but we have to admit that it would probably be pretty strange. It just goes to show that in a city like Rome, there are many aspects to consider.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.