Rome: The City
Rome is located in the very center of the Italian peninsula, on the shores of the river Tiber and only 15 miles from the coast and the ancient port of Ostia. Blessed with a mild climate and a fertile soil, it saw its early settlements starting from the first millennium BC. The Romans themselves celebrated the foundation of their city in 753 BC and attributed it to Romulus and Remus, descendants of the Trojan hero Aeneas.
During the 6th century BC the small village developed into an important commercial center under the Etruscan kings, and since then it never stopped growing and improving. By the 1st century BC, under the emperor Augustus, it was a city of about 1 million inhabitants and the capital of a huge empire that included all the territories along the coasts of the Mediterranean sea and beyond. Rome was then the political, commercial, and cultural center of the empire and it was already graced by many impressive residences and monuments. Subsequent emperors farther embellished the city with buildings such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon, still standing more or less intact almost two millennia later.
After the fall of the Empire, Rome remained the residence of the popes and the religious center of Christianity. The popes themselves were patrons of the arts and, throughout the centuries, along with the local aristocracy, they invited the most talented artists of their times to embellish the city with churches, monuments, and residences. Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini, just to name a few, produced some of their best works right here. As a result, Rome developed into possibly the most beautiful city in the world with an unparalleled concentration of art.
Today, Rome remains the busy capital of Italy. Full of elegant shops, excellent restaurants, and vivacious people, it is a place where modern life, history, art, and archaeology live in perfect symbiosis with each other. You may spend weeks, months, and years visiting the archaeological sites, museums, churches, palaces, parks of Rome or Vatican City, and you will never be able to claim that you have seen everything.
I cannot promise that you will like everything in Rome: as any large metropolis, it is crowded, it has lots of traffic, and at times it can be annoying. Still, walking every day past some of the most amazing monuments in the world, enjoying a delicious gelato, resting in a quiet corner of a park, or admiring a beautiful sight, you are sure to fall in love with this wonderful, surprising, forever young ancient city and you’ll be hooked for the rest of your life.