Rome (/ˈroʊm/ ROHM; Italian: Roma [ˈroːma] (About this sound listen), Latin: Rōma) is the capital of Italy and a special comune (named Comune di Roma Capitale). Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,877,215 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the center of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4.3 million residents. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Rome's history spans more than 2,500 years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city's early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as a the birthplace of Western civilisation and by some as the first ever metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City (Latin: Urbs Aeterna; Italian: La Città Eterna) by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, and the expression was also taken up by Ovid, Virgil, and Livy. Rome is also called the "Caput Mundi" (Capital of the World).
After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Papacy, which had settled in the city since the 1st century AD, until in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870.
Beginning with the Renaissance, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1447–1455) pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, and then the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters, sculptors and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which in 1946 became the Italian Republic.
Rome has the status of a global city. Rome ranked in 2016 as the 13th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic center is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world's most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is the seat of United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The city hosts the headquarters of many international business companies, such as Eni, Enel, TIM and national and international banks such as Unicredit and BNL. Its business district, called EUR, is the base of many companies involved in the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry and financial services. Rome is also an important fashion and design center thanks to international brands such as Fendi, Bulgari, Renato Balestra, Valentino, Laura Biagiotti. Rome's Cinecittà Studios have been the set of many Academy Award–winning movies.
Rome enjoys a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), with cool, humid winters and warm, dry summers.
Its average annual temperature is above 20 °C (68 °F) during the day and 10 °C (50 °F) at night. In the coldest month – January, the average temperature is 12 °C (54 °F) during the day and 3 °C (37 °F) at night. In the warmest months – July and August, the average temperature is 30 °C (86 °F) during the day and 18 °C (64 °F) at night.
December, January and February are the coldest months, with a daily mean temperature of 8 °C (46 °F).Temperatures during these months generally vary between 10 and 15 °C (50 and 59 °F) during the day and between 3 and 5 °C (37 and 41 °F) at night, with colder or warmer spells occurring frequently. Snowfall is rare but not unheard of, with light snow or flurries occurring almost every winter, generally without accumulation, and major snowfalls once every 20 or 25 years (the last one in 2012).
The average relative humidity is 75%, varying from 72% in July to 77% in November. Sea temperatures vary from a low of 13 °C (55 °F) in February and March to a high of 24 °C (75 °F) in August.
Main article: Architecture of Rome
The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine
Rome's architecture over the centuries has greatly developed, especially from the Classical and Imperial Roman styles to modern Fascist architecture. Rome was for a period one of the world's main epicentres of classical architecture, developing new forms such as the arch, the dome and the vault. The Romanesque style in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries was also widely used in Roman architecture, and later the city became one of the main centres of Renaissance, Baroque and neoclassic architecture.
Main articles: List of ancient monuments in Rome and Ancient Roman architecture
One of the symbols of Rome is the Colosseum (70–80 AD), the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. Originally capable of seating 60,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial combat. A list of important monuments and sites of ancient Rome includes the Roman Forum, the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon, Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market, the Catacombs, the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, the Arch of Constantine, the Pyramid of Cestius, and the Bocca della Verità.
The medieval popular quarters of the city, situated mainly around the Capitol, were largely demolished between the end of the 19th century and the fascist period, but many notable buildings still remain. Basilicas dating from the Christian antiquity e include Saint Mary Major and Saint Paul outside the Walls (the latter largely rebuilt in the 19th century), both housing precious 4th century AD mosaics. Notable later notable medieval mosaics and frescoes can be also found in the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santi Quattro Coronati, and Santa Prassede. Secular buildings include a number of towers, the largest being the Torre delle Milizie and the Torre dei Conti, both next the Roman Forum, and the huge outdoor stairway leading up to the basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli.
Renaissance and Baroque
Rome was a major world centre of the Renaissance, second only to Florence, and was profoundly affected by the movement. Among others, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Rome is the Piazza del Campidoglio by Michelangelo. During this period, the great aristocratic families of Rome used to build opulent dwellings as the Palazzo del Quirinale (now seat of the President of the Italian Republic), the Palazzo Venezia, the Palazzo Farnese, the Palazzo Barberini, the Palazzo Chigi (now seat of the Italian Prime Minister), the Palazzo Spada, the Palazzo della Cancelleria, and the Villa Farnesina.
Panoramic view of Piazza del Campidoglio, with the copy of the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius.
Many of the famous city's squares – some huge, majestic and often adorned with obelisks, some small and picturesque – got their present shape during the Renaissance and Baroque. The principal ones are Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Farnese, Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza della Minerva. One of the most emblematic examples of Baroque art is the Fontana di Trevi by Nicola Salvi. Other notable 17th-century baroque palaces are the Palazzo Madama, now the seat of the Italian Senate and the Palazzo Montecitorio, now the seat of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy.
The Altare della Patria
In 1870, Rome became the capital city of the new Kingdom of Italy. During this time, neoclassicism, a building style influenced by the architecture of antiquity, became a predominant influence in Roman architecture. During this period, many great palaces in neoclassical styles were built to host ministries, embassies, and other governing agencies. One of the best-known symbols of Roman neoclassicism is the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II or "Altar of the Fatherland", where the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, that represents the 650,000 Italians that fell in World War I, is located.
The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana
See also: Fascist architecture
The Fascist regime that ruled in Italy between 1922 and 1943 had its showcase in Rome. Mussolini allowed the construction of new roads and piazzas, resulting in the destruction of roads, houses, churches and palaces erected during the papal rule. The main activities during his government were: the "isolation" of the Capitoline Hill; Via dei Monti, later renamed Via del'Impero, and finally Via dei Fori Imperiali; Via del Mare, later renamed Via del Teatro di Marcello; the "isolation" of the Mausoleum of Augustus, with the erection of Piazza Augusto Imperatore; Via della Conciliazione.
Architecturally, Fascism favored the most modern movements, such as the Rationalism. Parallel to this, in the 1920s another style emerged, named "Stile Novecento", characterised by its links with ancient Roman architecture. One important construction in the latter style is the Foro Mussolini, now Foro Italico, by Enrico Del Debbio. Next to it, the most important Fascist site in Rome is the EUR district, designed in 1938 by Marcello Piacentini. This new quarter emerged as a compromise between Rationalist and Novecento architects, the former being led by Giuseppe Pagano. The EUR was originally conceived for the 1942 world exhibition, and was called "E.42" ("Esposizione 42"). The most representative buildings of EUR are the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (1938–1943), the iconic design of which has been labelled the cubic of Square Colosseum, and the Palazzo dei Congressi, example of Rationalist style. The world exhibition, however, never took place because Italy entered the Second World War in 1940, and the realised buildings were partly destroyed in 1943 during the fighting between Italian and German army after the armistice and later abandoned. The quarter was restored in the 1950s, when the Roman authorities found that they already had the seed of an off-center business district of the type that other capitals were still planning (London Docklands and La Défense in Paris). Also the Palazzo della Farnesina, the current seat of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was designed in 1935 in pure Fascist style.
Parks and gardens
The Villa Borghese
Main article: List of parks and gardens in Rome
Public parks and nature reserves cover a large area in Rome, and the city has one of the largest areas of green space among European capitals. The most notable part of this green space is represented by the large number of villas and landscaped gardens created by the Italian aristocracy. While most of the parks surrounding the villas were destroyed during the building boom of the late 19th century, some of them remain. The most notable of these are Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, and Villa Doria Pamphili. Villa Doria Pamphili is west of the Gianicolo hill comprising some 1.8 square kilometres (0.7 sq mi). Also on the Gianicolo hill there is Villa Sciarra, with playgrounds for children and shaded walking areas. In the nearby area of Trastevere the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden) is a cool and shady green space. The old Roman hippodrome (Circus Maximus) is another large green space: it has few trees, but is overlooked by the Palatine and the Rose Garden ('roseto comunale'). Nearby is the lush Villa Celimontana, close to the gardens surrounding the Baths of Caracalla. The Villa Borghese garden is the best known large green space in Rome, with famous art galleries among its shaded walks. Overlooking Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps are the gardens of Pincio and Villa Medici. Noteworthy is also the Pine wood of Castelfusano, near Ostia. Rome also has a number of regional parks of much more recent origin including the Pineto Regional Park and the Appian Way Regional Park. There are also nature reserves at Marcigliana and at Tenuta di Castelporziano.
Fountains and aqueducts
Main articles: List of fountains in Rome and List of aqueducts in the city of Rome
The Trevi Fountain
The Fontana della Barcaccia
Rome is a city famous for its numerous fountains, built in all different styles, from Classical and Medieval, to Baroque and Neoclassical. The city has had fountains for more than two thousand years, and they have provided drinking water and decorated the piazzas of Rome. During the Roman Empire, in 98 AD, according to Sextus Julius Frontinus, the Roman consul who was named curator aquarum or guardian of the water of the city, Rome had nine aqueducts which fed 39 monumental fountains and 591 public basins, not counting the water supplied to the Imperial household, baths and owners of private villas. Each of the major fountains was connected to two different aqueducts, in case one was shut down for service.
During the 17th and 18th century the Roman popes reconstructed other ruined Roman aqueducts and built new display fountains to mark their termini, launching the golden age of the Roman fountain. The fountains of Rome, like the paintings of Rubens, were expressions of the new style of Baroque art. They were crowded with allegorical figures, and filled with emotion and movement. In these fountains, sculpture became the principal element, and the water was used simply to animate and decorate the sculptures. They, like baroque gardens, were "a visual representation of confidence and power".
See also: Talking statues of Rome
Roman statues at the Piazza Navona
Rome is well known for its statues but, in particular, the talking statues of Rome. These are usually ancient statues which have become popular soapboxes for political and social discussion, and places for people to (often satirically) voice their opinions. There are two main talking statues: the Pasquino and the Marforio, yet there are four other noted ones: il Babuino, Madama Lucrezia, il Facchino and Abbot Luigi. Most of these statues are ancient Roman or classical, and most of them also depict mythical gods, ancient people or legendary figures; il Pasquino represents Menelaus, Abbot Luigi is an unknown Roman magistrate, il Babuino is supposed to be Silenus, Marforio represents Oceanus, Madama Lucrezia is a bust of Isis, and il Facchino is the only non-Roman statue, created in 1580, and not representing anyone in particular. They are often, due to their status, covered with placards or graffiti expressing political ideas and points of view. Other statues in the city, which are not related to the talking statues, include those of the Ponte Sant'Angelo, or several monuments scattered across the city, such as that to Giordano Bruno in the Campo de'Fiori.
Obelisks and columns
Main article: List of obelisks in Rome
An ancient Egyptian obelisk in Piazza del Popolo
The city hosts eight ancient Egyptian and five ancient Roman obelisks, together with a number of more modern obelisks; there was also formerly (until 2005) an ancient Ethiopian obelisk in Rome. The city contains some of obelisks in piazzas, such as in Piazza Navona, St Peter's Square, Piazza Montecitorio, and Piazza del Popolo, and others in villas, thermae parks and gardens, such as in Villa Celimontana, the Baths of Diocletian, and the Pincian Hill. Moreover, the center of Rome hosts also Trajan's and Antonine Column, two ancient Roman columns with spiral relief. The Column of Marcus Aurelius is located in Piazza Colonna and it was built around 180 AD by Commodus in memory of his parents. The Column of Marcus Aurelius was inspired by Trajan's Column at Trajan's Forum, which is part of the Imperial Fora
Main article: List of bridges in Rome
Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II at sunset
The city of Rome contains numerous famous bridges which cross the Tiber. The only bridge to remain unaltered until today from the classical age is Ponte dei Quattro Capi, which connects the Isola Tiberina with the left bank. The other surviving – albeit modified – ancient Roman bridges crossing the Tiber are Ponte Cestio, Ponte Sant'Angelo and Ponte Milvio. Considering Ponte Nomentano, also built during ancient Rome, which crosses the Aniene, currently there are five ancient Roman bridges still remaining in the city. Other noteworthy bridges are Ponte Sisto, the first bridge built in the Renaissance above Roman foundations; Ponte Rotto, actually the only remaining arch of the ancient Pons Aemilius, collapsed during the flood of 1598 and demolished at the end of the 19th century; and Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, a modern bridge connecting Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Borgo. Most of the city's public bridges were built in Classical or Renaissance style, but also in Baroque, Neoclassical and Modern styles. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the finest ancient bridge remaining in Rome is the Ponte Sant'Angelo, which was completed in 135 AD, and was decorated with ten statues of the angels, designed by Bernini in 1688.
Main article: Catacombs of Rome
Rome has extensive amount of ancient catacombs, or underground burial places under or near the city, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, they include pagan and Jewish burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together. The first large-scale catacombs were excavated from the 2nd century onwards. Originally they were carved through tuff, a soft volcanic rock, outside the boundaries of the city, because Roman law forbade burial places within city limits. Currently maintenance of the catacombs is in the hands of the Papacy which has invested in the Salesians of Don Bosco the supervision of the Catacombs of St. Callixtus on the outskirts of Rome.