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Rome Italy

Updated on August 2, 2017

The History of Rome

Mountains of words have been written about Rome.  I have no new scholarship to report but for those uninitiated into the history of Rome,  I will provide a short overview.   Rome was founded by Romulus in 753 B.C. on seven hills commanding the strategic crossing point of the Tiber River.  It became known first as the Roman Kingdom (with a written constitution);  then the Roman Republic in 509 B.C.;  and the Roman Empire in 31 B.C.   Caesar (Czar in Russian and Kaiser in German) declared himself emperor in 48 B.C. (after crossing the Rubicon [River]).   He was assassinated by his "friends" four years later, and Octavian (Augustus) took over.   It was he who famously defeated Cleopatra and Mark Antony in 31 B.C.  

ST PETERS SQUARE TODAY
ST PETERS SQUARE TODAY

The Roman Republic

Rome had conquered Greece "the Mother of Europe" in 266 B.C. militarily; but it can be said that Greece conquered Rome culturally (Grecian culture is properly called Hellenistic). Ancient Rome was an incredibly cohesive society. Strong families, local control over local issues, and civic responsibility were the lynchpins of this society. It is famous for its ground breaking and extraordinary prowess regarding the organization of a powerful military; building roads (all roads lead to Rome); establishing property rights; enforcing a uniform standard of conduct; administering its state; producing literature (Virgil the master) and art; and incredible advancements in law (contract law in particular) and engineering (aqueducts, baths, theatres, temples, monuments). Romans mastered the arch and the vault in their architecture.

MICHELANGELO'S PIETA
MICHELANGELO'S PIETA

The Roman Empire

By the time Jesus Christ walked the Earth, Rome had conquered Palestine (Israel); Syria; Egypt; Asia Minor (Turkey); Gaul (France); Macedonia; Northern Africa; and Iberia (Spain)—the entire coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps 30% of all the people in the world lived in the Roman Empire—approximately 65 million people.


MODERN DAY GLADIATORS
MODERN DAY GLADIATORS

The Czar appoints little czars

Unfortunately, Rome eventually became an extremely decadent society—focused on gluttony, luxury, greed and vanity; where cruelty and violence was common; and a particularly repulsive brand of slavery was created (the key to the Roman economy). Caesar Augustus established a level of authoritarianism by breaking with centuries of history, tradition, and Roman law.   He created new heads of Roman bureaucracies that reported directly to him, instead of to the Senate. The rulers pacified the populace with "bread and circuses." Regarding the former, 20% of the population of the city had grown dependent on the government for food.


INSIDE THE COLOSSEUM
INSIDE THE COLOSSEUM

Roman Games

"Games" in the Colosseum became a fixture in the lives of the Roman citizens after it was constructed in 80 A.D. Gladiators fought to the death before screaming spectators. There was a problem in that these crowds would get bored with the same old show and so there came about a progression to more and more gruesome spectacles to please the crowds. What began with 3 pairs of slaves fighting to the death one afternoon, eventually became a three month festival where 10,000 human beings and 11,000 animals perished to satisfy the blood lust of the fans. Some "games" included military battles, and even naval battles in flooded arenas. Christians were eventually singled out for the most obscene entertainments. Christians were eaten alive by lions; made to row across water filled with starving crocodiles in sinking boats ; set on fire; roasted alive on a spit; crucified; and the most hideous: Christian girls tied spreadeagled smeared with the vaginal fluid of cows and raped by wild bulls. The crowds loved it.


THE ROMAN EMPIRE
THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The Fall of Rome

The downfall of Rome, the city proper, can be traced to the decision by Constantine (whose mother, Helena, was a British Christian) to move the capital of the Empire 857 miles east in 330 A.D., to a brand new city he built—Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). The "Eternal City" of Rome had ruled for 1,083 years. Constantine also ended the persecution of Christians and declared Christianity legal in 313. Christianity had begun to fill the spiritual void in the lives of Romans. Rome was to become the center of the Christian (Catholic—meaning universal) Church.


THE CEILING OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL PAINTED BY MICHELANGELO
THE CEILING OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL PAINTED BY MICHELANGELO

Rome is Sacked

Rome was astonishingly sacked in 410 by the Goths—Visigoths in particular (Germans, known by Romans as the Barbarians).   This is generally accepted as the beginning of the Dark Ages.  The people began to flee the city before and after the pillage.  Within 50 years the population of the city of Rome had fallen to less 50,000.  This city had been by far the largest in the world, at one time having nearly two million residents. 

ST PETERS BASILICA
ST PETERS BASILICA

The Vatican

In 756, Roman Catholic Church lands became a sovereign territory. The St. Peter's Basilica we know today was completed in 1626, after 120 years of construction. St. Peter's Square was completed in 1667. Italy became a nation state in 1871. The Vatican State was created in 1929 on 100 acres of land; and approximately 1,000 souls live there today.

JESUS AND HIS APOSTLES ON THE ROOF
JESUS AND HIS APOSTLES ON THE ROOF
WHERE THE POPE LIVES
WHERE THE POPE LIVES
PAPAL APARTMENTS
PAPAL APARTMENTS
AN AMERICAN TOURIST IN ST. PETERS SQUARE
AN AMERICAN TOURIST IN ST. PETERS SQUARE
SWISS GUARDS AT THE VATICAN
SWISS GUARDS AT THE VATICAN
INSIDE ST. PETERS
INSIDE ST. PETERS
THRONE OF ST. PETER
THRONE OF ST. PETER
GLORIA
GLORIA
MICHELANGELO'S DOME IN ST. PETERS
MICHELANGELO'S DOME IN ST. PETERS
ANOTHER DOME IN ST. PETERS
ANOTHER DOME IN ST. PETERS
WHERE ST. PETER IS BURIED
WHERE ST. PETER IS BURIED
NONE OF THESE PHOTOS ARE FROM '98 AS THE STAMP ON MY FILM INDICATES.  THEY ARE FROM 2002.
NONE OF THESE PHOTOS ARE FROM '98 AS THE STAMP ON MY FILM INDICATES. THEY ARE FROM 2002.

Rome Today

It is estimated that 5.5M people live in the metropolitan area of Rome today.   It is a fantastic place to visit that I enjoyed immensely.  The beauty of the art, architecture, fountains—and the ruins of ancient Rome—combined with the vibrant modern city filled with people enjoying the outdoors, makes Rome a top travel destination. 

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    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

      suzettenaples— Yes, Rome is THE magnificent city. Thank you for recognizing the quality of my photographs.

      I read your article about Isernia and it is so beautiful that I want to live there right now.

      I so appreciate you reading this article. Thanks again.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      I was just in Rome last year. Isn't it a magnificent city? I've been there many times and just love the history, art and architecture of the city. The Vatican with St. Peter's Basillica is wonderful and to see Michaelangelo's art is a wonder.

      My Italian relatives live 65 km. east of Rome. You cannot imagine the history in their small town of Isernia.

      This is a wonderful hub and you do Rome justice. Your photos are beautiful!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      primpo— I hope you do get to visit your ancestral home of Calabria one day. I have not been there in my travels through Italy.

      Thank you for reading my Hubs. I appreciate your comments as well. :)

    • primpo profile image

      Primpo 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York

      Nice Hub, my family is from Calabria and I'm yet to visit it. I will someday, it is one of my goals. I would love to write about it also..

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Joseph Hirniak— I have not been to Verona. That is the city of Romeo and Juliette, right? Thank you for that recommendation. And I appreciate this visit from you.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      montreal florist--- Yes, you are so right. It is a beautiful place in this world. Thank you for coming and commenting.

    • profile image

      montreal florist 7 years ago

      Rome is like a city of ART. Every architecture is really beautiful. I want to go there someday.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      russianbypsygirl--- Welcome to the Hub Pages Community, Ms. world traveler. I love Italy. Thank you for your lovely compliments on my writing and photography. I appreciate your comments and you are most welcome. It's nice to meet you.

    • russiangypsygirl profile image

      russiangypsygirl 7 years ago

      James, Italy is MY favorite place too. I really felt like I came alive there! Your photos are beautiful, and we have many of the same. I loved Rome for it tangible romance and history. I really thought I could FEEL the history around me. So I left my heart there... I don't know if that makes me a traitor to my country, or an Italian! ") Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to reading more of your excellently written articles.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      prettydarkhorse— Italy is my favorite place. I am a history buff, that's for sure.

      Next year will be great! I am sure of it, Maita. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. I very much appreciate you.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi James,

      I wasnt able to go to Italy, would love to go there, wonderful place, it is very special too, and you captured it all,

      thank you for the history too, I love it...

      and may the next year bring you more blessings,...Happy New Year!!

      Always, Maita

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Gabriella D'Anton— Thank you very much. What a gracious thing to do. I hope it drives traffic through the roof. :) I'm glad you enjoy them. I have 13 of them you know. One of my favorite subjects to write about and I have a few good ones left in me, too, that I'll get around to one of these days; Florence, Paris, London, Switzerland, Scotland, Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando . . .

    • Gabriella D'Anton profile image

      Gabriella D'Anton 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Ca

      Hi James

      I found on the forum a topic called "recommend another Hubber's Hub" and I gave the URL to some of your travel hubs, since I think they are so very great and I enjoyed tham so much

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Leon Joseph Lupo— Thank you very much for your kind compliments. I means a lot to me that you have given me this affirmation. God Bless You!

    • profile image

      Leon Joseph Lupo 7 years ago

      Magnificent Work and Beautiful Photographs. Your talent, intellect, expertise, and wonderfull knowledge in regard to God is why you were chosen by God to be one of his champions in all that you do. God Bless You and May Angel in Heavem allways Protect you and Shield You.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      DeBorrah K. Ogans— Thank you! I would like to spend more time there. So much to see. The Sistine Chapel and the Pieta may be the most beautiful things my eye has beheld.

      A letter from the Vatican is pretty impressive. That must be a heckuva book. I'll have to check it out. God Bless You.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 7 years ago

      You have certainly captured the essence of Rome!

      What a magnificent place. You have revived my beautiful memories of Rome. I thoroughly enjoyed its beautiful architecture as well. I also remember how I felt in the Colosseum I could discern that there was much anguish that took place there.

      I must share I was pleased to also visit St. Peters. It is simply beautiful as well as the fountains and.......

      Although I did not meet the Pope. I have a letter I received from the Vatican in regards to my first Book a premarital guide on Marriage.

      Blessings

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      stuart747— I want to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting my page and leaving your kind remarks. Do go back when you can. It is well worth the trip.

    • stuart747 profile image

      stuart747 8 years ago from Colchester, Essex, UK

      a good hub that I enjoyed reading, I have been to Italy once before but i never got time to see the SISTINE CHAPEL so I would love to go back,

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      christine almaraz— I took them all myself except for two: the opening view of St. Peter's.  I love that shot but I don't know how they got high enough up in the air to shoot it;  And the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel I borrowed—they did not allow photography the day I was there.

      Thank you very much for coming by and complimenting my photography.

    • christine almaraz profile image

      christine almaraz 8 years ago from colorado springs

      Roman Games? Insane. I'm glad they found other forms of entertainment. Beautiful pictures. Did you take them yourself? The ones from your other Italy hub were great too.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Tigermadstanley— It might not be until Monday.  I have family arriving from out of town and I spend around 12 hours on each Hub.  If I can do it sooner I will and I'll let you know.  Thanks for the interest.

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 8 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK

      James, You are too kind and I feel so humbled. Thank you and I look forward to sharing the hub with Dan. I feel quite excited:)

    • profile image

      Joseph Hirniak 8 years ago

      Have you been to Verona? Also very nice and under-rated city with a great history. I recommend it if you have not been.

      Joseph

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Tigermadstanley— I did take extensive photos at Pompeii! I will do a Hub about that for you, and your son, soon.

      Thank you very much for your kind comments. History is my favorite subject.

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 8 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK

      I have covered The Romans and their history (mostly in relation to how it affected Britain) a few times with classes of children. I was still fascinated by your interesting and succint hub and enthralled by the beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing. I don't suppose you went to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum and intend to do a hub about that?;) My youngest son is autistic and has Asperger's Syndrome, he hates to leave the house or for me to be away from him so at present I have to content myself to travelling through the web and the eyes of others. Thank you for such a great trip to Rome.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      jvhirniak— It does look great! Thank you very much for taking the time to check out my Hub and leave your comments. I appreciate it.

    • jvhirniak profile image

      jvhirniak 8 years ago

      James: Looks like St. Peters got a nice facelift from the last time I saw it years ago. Looks much better without the grime. Another great read.

      Joseph

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Beauty Speaks— That would be great to live in Rome. What would you do for a living there?

    • BeautySpeaks profile image

      BeautySpeaks 8 years ago from Prince Georges County, Maryland

      I'm seriously considering moving here sometime in the future....

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Jane Grey— We sure do and we'd best learn it soon.  Thank you for complimenting my photography and for reading my Hub.  I do appreciate it, especially from one as learned as yourself.

    • Jane Grey profile image

      Ann Leavitt 8 years ago from Oregon

      Beautiful pictures! What an honor to be able to walk the streets of Rome and experience history far older than America's. It is interesting how history repeats itself: we have much to learn from the fall of Rome and what led up to that point.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Lady Rouge— I did enjoy it immensely. And I learned a lot, too. You are welcome and thank you!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Dr Nancy Kenyon— Coming from a real live doctor, your compliments mean a lot to me.

    • Lady Rogue profile image

      Lady Rogue 8 years ago from Cleveland Heights, Ohio

      Looks like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing your trip with us. O.K., green with envy :>

    • Dr Nancy Kenyon profile image

      Nancy Kenyon 8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This is a beautiful article filled with great pictures and fine writing. I am proud of you!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you. They didn't allow flash in there so they are a little dark but not bad considering. You are welcome and thank you for visiting and leaving your remarks.

    • Karen Baliska profile image

      Karen Baliska 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I visted Rome in 2007 a great City, but I found the Romans a little scary and I was with someone who spoke Italian.

      You got great pictures of The Vatican, sadly my camera was not up to the job.  Thanks for the article it brought back good memories.    

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      blondepoet— Luckily, I didn't have to resort to homicide to visit Rome. It might have set me a month's wages, though. And it was worth it!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Jodi Hoeksel— I am with you. Italy is my all time favorite destination. I love the Gladiator movie. The HBO series, Rome, was exceptionally well done, too, though not a family show. I, too, enjoy any movies about Rome, old or new. I find them fascinating. I am pleased that you enjoyed it.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Alexander Mark— Rome definitely had a certain trajectory to its long life as a Kingdom, Republic & Empire.  What is one of the most amazing facts of history is that a place can go from the center of the Earth in its power and achievements with nearly 2 million inhabitants in the City alone—to rotting ruins and mostly deserted in only 50 years.  Thank you for reading.  It is always nice to hear from you.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      lefseriver— You are so welcome. Thank you for your comments—and the forward.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      fierycj— Your gracious words warm the cockles of my heart.  When I create a Hub, it is affirming when you voice your appreciation.  It is quite a history, alright.  And I am blessed to have been able to visit Rome.

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 8 years ago from australia

      Rome has always intrigued me, loved the movie Gladiator too lol, I would kill to travel there

    • Jodi Hoeksel profile image

      Jodi Hoeksel 8 years ago

      This is very informative, James. I would love to travel through Italy sometime. Seems to hold unique historic and cultural values. I really enjoy watching old Roman films, yet one of my favorite films is The Gladiator. Thanks for packing in so much History. I enjoyed this.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 8 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      I am so glad you wrote this. I never learned world history in school, (that's another topic I won't get into right now), and I have been itching to learn more about Roman history. It seems like a brief coverage, but you explained so much. I will definitely learn more before I go there someday, but this already makes it worthwhile. I also appreciate the graphic explanation of what the Romans did to Christians. Before it became that way, Rome seems like it was a great empire that ruled well. Great hub!

    • lefseriver profile image

      David Walli 8 years ago from Northern Minnesota

      Thanks for this hub and photos. my sister and nephew went there last year and am enjoying forwarding to them. also forwarded the Venice article. Thanks again.

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      Sojourner is here...............lol. All I can say is woooooow...Rome is truly a wonder, full of history. I've always wanted to visit the place. You're a lucky guy to have been there. Right in the city of the Caesars, what a feeling, huh!

      Great hub. As usual, you keep outdoing yourself in these hubs, James. You challenge me, truly.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Betty Wilson— How kind of you to stop by and read my Hub! Isn't it nice when we are reminded of joyous times we've had? Maybe I can go back and stay a week there one of these days.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      DynamicS— I am so glad you liked it.  I appreciate your compliments! Now, back to more serious fare . . .

       

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Gypsy Willow— As I finished this in the wee hours, I didn't notice a couple of typos. Fixed!

      That is a very interesting sidebar you added! Thank you for that. And you're welcome.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Temperance M— I suppose to surround themselves with beautiful things gave them some escape from the brutish reality. Thank you very much for your comments.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      ethel smith— You are welcome! There is so much to see in Rome. I wish I had been there longer.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Madame X— Thank you for visiting and leaving your words.  Like a lot of life, it was gruesome and beautiful at the same time. The art and the architecture are the real reason to go, to be sure.  I got off on the history tangent and couldn't let go! :D

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Douglas D. Schumann— You are welcome.  Thanks for reading.  I started out with the intent of writing a travelogue but the compelling question for me when I was there was—how did all this get here?  So, I thought at least some folks might ponder the same question, too.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      advisor4qb— Thank you for being my first visitor!

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      Betty Wilson 8 years ago

      James,

      Brought back so many great memories! Spent a week there several years ago. Thanks for sharing.

      Betty

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very nice James. I want to go to Rome some day. The pictures are awesome. Thanks for the history lesson. Great hub!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Our Latin teacher took us to Rome for a school trip. I noticed that all the manhole covers had SPQR written on them. He told me it is the motto of Rome. "Senatus PopuusQue Romanus" He told us that his local fish and chip shop in Wales had it written over the door. On asking the proprietor if he was from Rome, the man told him "No, it stands for Small Profits Quick Returns" I have never forgotten that. Great hub, typical American Tourist!

    • Temperance M profile image

      Temperance M 8 years ago from Oregon

      For anyone who hasn't been, Rome is breath-taking. I spent a few weeks at a hostel there just going "churching" as I called it - visiting local churches to view the artwork. The artwork that has arisen from the brutal history of Rome is definitely awe-inspiring!

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      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Wow. Would love to visit Italy. Thanks for the history lesson also James :)

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      Madame X 8 years ago

      Very informative hub James. I have cousins all over Italy and some outside of Rome. Been there a number of times - but never studied the history too much. I always found it so gruesome. I always focused on the art and architecture. Your narrative is fascinating. Maybe now I'll study it a bit more. Thanks for the inspiration.

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      Douglas D Schumann 8 years ago

      Thanks for the history James. Very interesting.

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      advisor4qb 8 years ago from On New Footing

      AWESOME trip! (Nice hub, too!)