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About Rome, Italy

Updated on March 27, 2015

Rome is one of the most significant cities in the world when it comes to history, culture and style. It is an elegant mixture of ancient architecture and the latest fashions.

The Colosseum
The Colosseum | Source

What Makes Rome, Italy Special

More than 26 million people visit Rome, Italy every year. It is a special place on many different levels. Rome is an historic place. It was the capital of the Roman Empire which was one of the founding cultures of Western Civilization.

Rome is a religious place. The Pope rules the Catholic church from Vatican City within the city's borders. Rome is an artistic place. Italian style and culture emanate from its cutting edge designers and artists. Most of all, Rome is a fun place to visit. It is a beautiful city with shopping, dining and sightseeing the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

Rome, Italy Details

Rome is located on the Tiber River in central Italy. It is the capital of the country and the province of Lazio. Rome is also the largest city in Italy with about 4 million people living in the Rome metropolitan area.

Vatican City is considered a sovereign nation but it is located within the borders of Rome. There are nothing to distinguish Vatican City from the rest of Rome. There is no border fence, no immigration officers and no customs checkpoints. Vatican City uses the Euro as its currency just like the rest of Italy but they do print their own postage stamps. Americans need a passport to enter Italy but do not need a visa to visit for short periods of time.

Italian is the primary language. Some workers in the tourist industry speak some English, but most Romans do not. It helps a lot if you learn a few phrases in Italian before you go. Rome has a mild Mediterranian climate year around. Temperatures range from the 30s in the winter to the 80s in the summer. Most of the rain falls between October and January.

Vatican City
Vatican City | Source

History of Rome, Italy

According to legend, Rome was founded on April 21, in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus. The brothers fought over who to name the city after. Romulus killed Remus and named the city Rome after himself. Romulus was also Rome's first king. The center of Rome was built upon 7 hills. It grew to be an important city, first as the capital of the Roman Kingdom, then of the Roman Republic, then of the Roman Empire.

The accomplishments and exploits of the Roman Empire are still legendary today. Even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, Rome remained an important city. The Pope is also known as the Bishop of Rome. Popes ruled Rome as part of the Papal States from 756 to 1870 when it was annexed into the Kingdom of Italy.

Rome was the site of artistic, cultural and political innovations during the Renaissance. It was also an important flash point in both World Wars. Today, Rome is a peaceful, thriving metropolis visited by people from all over the world.

View From the Top of the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica
View From the Top of the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica | Source
Statues On Top of St. Peter's Basilica
Statues On Top of St. Peter's Basilica | Source

Sights of Rome

The sights of Rome range from the spectacular to the sublime. They also range in age from the ancient to the modern. Rome has been an important cultural center for thousands of years. As a result, it has historical treasures from different time periods mixed together throughout the city.

The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum | Source

Ancient Rome

  • The most recognizable symbol of ancient Rome is the Colosseum. It is the grandest Roman amphitheater every built. It is impressive to stand beside it and imagine 60 thousand Romans seated inside witnessing gladiators fighting to the death. The Colosseum is remarkably intact considering it is nearly 2000 years old.
  • Another famous ancient site is the Roman Forum in the oldest area of the city. It is in ruins now, but offers visitors a fascinating look at the structures and city planning of ancient Rome.
  • The Pantheon was a temple built for all the gods. Its dome is an architectural wonder. The Pantheon was later turned into a church.
  • The Circus Maximus is a long oval track that hosted chariot races in ancient Rome. Today it is a wide open space popular with dogs and their owners.
  • The Arch of Constantine was built in 315 to commemorate a military victory by the Emperor Constantine.
  • The Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for the emperor Hadrian. It became a castle and later a museum. The circular structure is one of the most recognizable in Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo
Castel Sant Angelo | Source

Walking Around Rome

It is especially enjoyable to see Rome on foot. Many unexpected discoveries are made while wandering its winding streets and narrow alleyways.

Capitoline Hill is especially nice to wander around. It features the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo. Rome is full of imposing squares where people can relax and socialize. Some of the most famous are Piazze Narvona with its Fountain of the Four Rivers and obelisk, the Piazze di Spagna with the popular meeting place on the Spanish Steps, and the area around Trevi Fountain. Legend has it if you throw a coin into the immense baroque fountain, you are guaranteed to return to Rome.

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain | Source

Modern Rome

There are many buildings in Rome that look ancient but really are not. For example, the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument was constructed in 1935 in the neoclassical style.

It borrowed heavily from ancient Roman architecture. The monument was built for the first king of unified Italy. It now houses the Italian tomb of the unknown soldier.

The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument | Source

Transportation in Rome, Italy

Most visitors to Rome will pass through either the Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport or the Roma Termini train station. Both are modern bustling hubs of traveler activity. Mass transit is a way of life in Rome, so you can do almost everything at a train station.

You can shop, shower, sleep and eat without ever leaving. Rome has a comprehensive network of busses, trams and a modern subway called the Metropolitana. It connects to the Roma Termini train station and can get you close to nearly everything you would want to visit in Rome. However, you will still need to walk quite a bit. This is a pleasure since, as we explained earlier, Rome is a city best seen on foot.

Rome at Night
Rome at Night | Source
Rome from plane at night (Termini on the left, Vatican on the right)
Rome from plane at night (Termini on the left, Vatican on the right) | Source

© 2015 Discover the World

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