Rome rises on the banks of the Tiber river; the original inhabited area developed on the hills that face the bend in which the Tiber island rises, the only natural ford of the river.
Rome is in Lazio region, geographically in the centre of Italy. It is the most populous city in Italy and the fourth largest in the European Union after London, Berlin and Madrid.
Founded according to tradition on April 21st 753 BC (although recent excavations in the Lapis Niger date back the foundation to 2 centuries earlier) in the course of its three millennia of history it was the first metropolis of humanity, the beating heart of one of the most important ancient civilizations, which influenced society, culture, language, literature, art, architecture, philosophy, religion, law and customs of the following centuries. Place of origin of the Latin language, it was the capital of the Roman Empire which extended its dominion over the entire Mediterranean basin and much of Europe, of the Papal States, subjected to the temporal power of the popes and the Kingdom of Italy (from 1871 to 1946). Rome is defined Caput Mundi and Eternal City.
The civil architecture of Rome consists of several hundred buildings and other monuments that have accompanied the history of the city for about 28 centuries: Piazza del Campidoglio houses the Palazzo Senatorio, representative office of Roma Capitale, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, two seats of the Capitoline Museums. There are many historical buildings in the city including the headquarters of noble, cardinal and papal families who exercised their power in and from Rome, such as Palazzo Venezia, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Colonna and Palazzo Barberini.
Numerous villas and gardens were once part of noble dwellings, starting from the urban gardens owned by the leading figures of ancient Rome (the horti). The largest urban villas are Villa Doria Pamphilj, Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, Villa Giulia, Villa Chigi, Villa Albani and Villa Torlonia.
In the course of its centuries-old history, Rome has been home to hundreds of theatres and other playful buildings, such as the circuses (the most famous of which is the Circus Maximus, capable of accommodating about 250 000 spectators) and the amphitheatres (including the Colosseum, which has become a symbol of the city and of the amphitheatre itself).
Rome is also rich in fountains and aqueducts: among the monumental fountains, most of which were built by the popes in the early modern age, there is the Trevi fountain, the Acqua Felice fountain (o del Mosè), the Quattro Fontane, the Fontana della Barcaccia, the three fountains of Piazza Navona (Quattro Fiumi, Moro and Nettuno), the Tartarughe fountain, the Triton fountain, the Acqua Paola fountain and the Naiadi fountain .
The main aqueducts of Rome are: the Felice aqueduct, the Acqua Paola aqueduct, the Acqua Pia Antica Marcia, the Peschiera-Capore aqueduct and the Appio-Alessandrino aqueduct.
The town center is also characterized by some ancient triumphal arches (Arch of Titus, Arch of Septimius Severus, Arch of Constantine) and the remains of various baths, one of the main meeting places during antiquity (including the Baths of Caracalla, the baths of Diocletian and the baths of Tito).
The Tiber and the Aniene, the rivers that cross the city, are crossed by more than thirty bridges: in the urban area, 28 bridges cross the Tiber (including the ancient Milvio bridge, Sant’Angelo bridge, Sisto bridge and bridge Fabricio), while 5 bridges were built to cross the Aniene river, including the Nomentano bridge.
Among the contemporary architectures we can include the Auditorium Parco della Musica by Renzo Piano, the MAXXI by Zaha Hadid, the MACRO by Odile Decq, the Museo dell’Ara Pacis and the Church of the Jubilee by Richard Meier, the Roma Convention Center (the “Nuvola“) by Massimiliano Fuksas.
Among the numerous monumental cemeteries in the city, the most important are: the monumental Cemetery of Verano, the Cemetery of Prima Porta and the non-Catholic cemetery of Rome.
The cradle of Rome’s history is the Palatine Hill, under which are the Roman Forum, the Imperial Forums and the Markets of Trajan, the centres of political, economic, religious and social life in the ancient world.
Not far away is the Colosseum, the symbol of ancient Rome; on the nearby Oppio hill are the remains of the Domus Aurea, the golden house of Nero.
Proceeding from Piazza Venezia to the Tiber, we find the Crypta Balbi (part of the ancient theater of Balbo), the Foro Boario, the theater of Marcello with the temples of the Sant’Omobono area and the Foro Olitorio and the sacred area of Largo di Torre Argentina (where Caesar was killed).
Other archaeological sites in the city are the underground basilica of Porta Maggiore, the Baths of Caracalla, the Baths of Diocletian, the Baths of Titus, the Mithraeum of San Clemente, the Auditorium of Mecenate, the stadium of Domitian, the remains of the Ludus Magnus, the Auditoria of Adriano and the Roman houses of the Celio, underlying the Basilica of Saints John and Paul.
Outside the town, there are the excavations of Ostia, the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, the adjacent Villa di Massenzio, the Castrum Caetani, the sepulcher of the Scipioni and the villa of the Quintili on the Appia Antica; villa di Livia in Prima Porta; the archaeological area of Veio, with the Etruscan sanctuary of Apollo and the park of the Tombs of the Via Latina.
When visiting Roma, there are some museums that cannot be missed: Borghese Gallery that has one of the most complete collections of sculptures and paintings housed in a relatively compact layout, Castel Sant’Angelo National Museum, whose museums inside are brilliant and the views at the top a breath-taking, especially at sunset. From Castel Sant’Angelo National Museum, it is possible to reach the Vatican through the Passetto di Borgo, an elevated pedestrian walkway about 800 m long that connects the Vatican with Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. The purpose of the Passetto di Borgo was to allow the Pope to take refuge in the Castle in case of danger and at the same time to have a bastion that would allow better control of the District. Palazzo Colonna, one of the oldest and largest private palaces of Rome. Its construction began in the fourteenth century by the Colonna family, who still resides there since eight centuries. The Colonna family dates back to the twelfth century and comes from the town of Colonna, near Rome, from which it takes its name.
Throughout the 1600s, the Palace took the form of a large Baroque palace at the will of three generations; the leading family members being Philip I, Cardinal Girolamo I and Lorenzo Onofrio, who relied on architects and artists of great skill and reputation. In fact, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Antonio del Grande, Carlo Fontana, Paolo Schor, and many others, all lent their expertise. Also during this time was the construction of the beautiful and majestic Galleria Colonna, which has 76 meters of length facing onto via IV Novembre. This authentic jewel of the Roman Baroque is now open to the public, with apartments of major artistic value that are most representative of the Palace. They house the Art Collections of the family, notified and bound by the fidecommesso of 1800, including masterpieces of absolute excellence painted by leading Italian and foreign artists between the XV and XVI century.
Among the artists presents in the Gallery, we find Pinturicchio, Cosmè Tura, Carracci, Guido Reni, Tintoretto, Salvator Rosa, Bronzino, Guercino, Veronese, Vanvitelli and many others.
The Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican City. It is located in the Vatican building and is one of the major treasures of Italian art. The vault of the Sistine Chapel contains a famous cycle of frescoes by Michelangelo Buonarroti, built in 1508-1512 and considered one of the absolute and most important masterpieces of Western art.
Currently the Sistine Chapel is still consecrated as a papal chapel and is one of the rooms included in the visit of the Vatican Museums; recently an important and controversial restoration of the frescoes of the vault has restored its original magnificence. The Sistine Chapel is named after Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471-1484).
But Rome is not only a vast number of unforgettable places to visit and to enjoy.
When in Rome, there is one thing you won’t have to worry about: being able to find a good place to eat. From family-run trattorias and pizzerias to the most elegant and trendy restaurants, Rome will know how to appease your hunger and satisfy its customers with its tasty specialties. Roman cuisine is a popular and simple cuisine. Not sophisticated or elaborate but generous, full of flavors and character and lots of recipes to make mouth-watering.
The typical Roman cuisine has its roots in the past and reflects the ancient traditions in most of its dishes. It is mainly based on fresh vegetables (the artichoke is the “King”, both fried and cooked long in olive oil, garlic and “mentuccia” or prepared “alla giudia”) and on cheap cuts of meat (the so-called “fifth”) quarto ”, that is predominantly offal, cooked with aromatic herbs and chilli). It also consists of appetizing fried foods served as an appetizer (such as fried cod and stuffed pumpkin flowers) and an important basic ingredient in many recipes and also pecorino, made with sheep’s milk from the nearby Roman countryside.
Not to mention pasta, of course, a pillar for every Italian – and therefore every Roman. From the “carbonara” to the spaghetti “ajo and ojo” (simple but effective, seasoned with a fiery mix of olive oil, garlic and chilli), from the rigatoni “con pajata” to a fragrant, nourishing “pasta and chickpeas”.
The Roman sweets are mainly related to the festivities (Carnival, Easter or Christmas). It is however definitely worth trying, especially the ricotta cake, prepared with fresh ricotta topped with sugar, lemon, vanilla, candied fruit, pine nuts and raisins.
Every autumn, Rome hosts the Rome Film Festival, an international film festival held at the Parco della Musica auditorium in Rome. The event is organized by the Fondazione Cinema per Roma, consisting of the founding members Roma Capitale, the Lazio Region, the Province of Rome, the Chamber of Commerce, the Musica per Roma Foundation. Some of the most prominent actors and actresses have taken part in the Festival to present their latest films, like Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo Di Caprio, and many more.