Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populous city, with over 2.7 million, while the population of the urban area is estimated to be 3.46 million. The metropolitan area of Rome is estimated b to have a population of 3.7 million. . It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river.
Rome's history as a city spans over two and a half thousand years, as one of the founding cities of Western culture. It was the centre of the Roman Empire, which dominated Europe, North Africea, and the Middle East for four hundred years from the 1st Century B.C. till the 4th Century. Rome has a significant place in Christianity and is the present day home of the Roman Catholic Church and the site of the Vatican City, an independent city-state run by the Catholic Church within as an enclave of Rome.
As one of the few major European cities that escaped World War 2 relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renissaince and in character. Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union, and its historic centre is listed by as a World Heritage Site. As a modern city it has been capital of the unified Italy since 1870, and grew mainly in two periods either side of Word War II.
From founding to Empire
Rome's early history is shrouded in legend. According to Roman tradition, the city was founded by the twins on 21 April 753 BC. Archaeological evidence supports the view that Rome grew from settlements on the built in the area of the future . While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC, the date is subject to controversy. The original settlement developed into the capital of the (ruled by a succession of seven kings, according to tradition), and then the (from 510 BC, governed by the ), and finally the (from 27 BC, ruled by an ). This success depended on military conquest, commercial predominance, as well as selective assimilation of neighbouring civilisations, most notably the and . From its foundation Rome, although losing occasional battles, had been undefeated in war until 386 BC, when it was briefly occupied by the . According to the legend, the Gauls offered to deliver Rome back to its people for a thousand pounds of gold, but the Romans refused, preferring to take back their city by force of arms rather than ever admitting defeat, after which the Romans recovered the city in the same year.
Roman dominance expanded over most of and the shores of the , while surpassed one million inhabitants. A review of the book Population Crises and Population cycles by Claire Russell and W.M.S. Russell. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the . After the Empire started to and was split, it lost its capital status to and then to , and was surpassed in prestige by the capital .
Fall of the Empire and Middle Ages
With the reign of , the gained political as well as religious importance, eventually becoming known as the and establishing Rome as the centre of the . After the by and the in 476 AD, Rome alternated between and control. Its population declined to a mere 20,000 during the , reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins and vegetation. Rome remained nominally part of the until 751 AD, when the finally abolished the . In 756, gave the Pope temporal jurisdiction over Rome and surrounding areas, thus creating the . In 846, Muslim Arabs and looted .
Rome remained the capital of the until its annexation by the in 1870; the city became a major pilgrimage site during the and the focus of struggles between the and the starting with , who was crowned its first emperor in Rome in 800 by . Apart from brief periods as an independent city during the , Rome kept its status as Papal capital and "holy city" for centuries, even when the Papacy briefly relocated to (1309–1377).
The latter half of the 15th century saw the seat of the move to Rome from . The Papacy wanted to equal and surpass the grandeur of other Italian cities and to this end created ever more extravagant churches, bridges, and public spaces. The period was also infamous for papal corruption, with many Popes fathering children, and engaging in and . The corruption of the Popes and the extravagance of their building projects led, in part, to the and, in turn, the .
Towards the reunification of Italy
Italy became caught up in the nationalistic turmoil of the 19th century and twice gained and lost a short-lived independence. Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the rest of Italy was reunited under the with a temporary capital at . In 1861, Rome was declared the capital of Italy even though it was still under the control of the . During the 1860s, the last vestiges of the were under French protection. And it was only when this was lifted in 1870, owing to the outbreak of the , that Italian troops were able to capture Rome.
After a victorious , Rome witnessed the rise to power of guided by , who on the city in 1922, eventually declaring a new and allying Italy with . This was a period of rapid growth in population, from 212,000 people at the time of unification to more than 1,000,000, but this trend was halted by , during which Rome was damaged by both and Nazi occupation. After the execution of and the end of the war, a abolished the monarchy in favour of the .
Rome grew momentously after the war, as one of the driving forces behind the "Italian economic miracle" of post-war . It became a fashionable city in the 1950s and early 1960s, the years of ("the sweet life"), and a new rising trend in population continued till the mid-1980s, when the commune had more than 2,800,000 residents; after that, population started to slowly decline as more residents moved to nearby suburbs.
Capital of Italy
Rome is the national capital of Italy and is the seat of the . The official residences of the and the , the seats of both houses of the Italian Parliament and that of the are located in the historic centre. The state ministries are spread out around the city; these include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is located in near the Olympic stadium.
Rome constitutes one of Italy's 8,101 s, albeit the largest both by extent and by population. It is governed by a Mayor, currently , and a city council. The seat of the commune is in on the the historic seat of government in Rome. The local administration in Rome is commonly referred to as "Campidoglio", the name of the hill in the .
Rome is divided into 19 administrative areas, called municipi or municipalities. They were created for administrative reasons to increase decentralisation in the city. Each municipality is governed by a president and a council of four members who are elected by the residents of the municipality every five years. The municipalities frequently cross the boundaries of the traditional, non-administrative divisions of the city.
Rome is also divided into differing types of non-administrative divisions. The historic centre is divided into 22 , all of which are located within the except and . After the designation of the newest and last rione, Prati, newer districts of the city were designated as quarters. There are 35 of these and they go all the way to the sea at Ostia, where they are called marine quarters. Rome also has six officially designated suburban zones and 52 agricultural zones. Many of the latter, however, have actually been subject to considerable development.
Rome is in the region of on the river (). The original settlement developed on hills that faced onto a ford beside the Tiber island, the only natural ford of the river. The historic centre of Rome was built on seven hills: the , the , the , the , the , the , and the . The city is also crossed by another river the which joins the Tiber north of the historic centre.
Although the city centre is about inland from the , the city territory extends to the shore, where the south-western district of is located. The altitude of the central part of Rome ranges from above sea level to above sea level. The Commune of Rome covers an overall area of about , including many green areas.
Throughout the history of Rome, the urban limits of the city were considered to be the area within the city walls. Originally, these consisted of the , which was built twelve years after the ish sack of the city in 390 BC. This contained most of the Esquiline and Caelian hills, as well as the whole of the other five. Rome outgrew the , but no more walls were constructed until almost 700 years later, when, in 270 AD, Emperor began building the . These were almost long, and were still the walls the troops of the had to breach to enter the city in 1870. Modern Romans frequently consider the city's urban area to be delimited by its ring-road, the , which circles the city centre at a distance of about 10 km.
The Commune of Rome, however, covers considerably more territory and extends to the sea at , the largest town in Italy that is not a commune in its own right. The Commune covers an area roughly three times the total area within the Raccordo and is comparable in area to the entire provinces of and , and to an area six times the size of the territory of these cities. It also includes considerable areas of abandoned marsh land which is suitable neither for agriculture nor for urban development.
As a consequence, the density of the Commune is not that high, the communal territory being divided between highly-urbanised areas and areas designated as parks, nature reserves, and for agricultural use. The is the largest by area in Italy. At 5,352 km², its dimensions are comparable to the region of .
Rome enjoys a typical that is characteristic of the coasts of . It is at its most comfortable from April through June, and from mid-September to October; in particular, the Roman ottobrate (which can be roughly translated as the "beautiful October days") are famously known as sunny and warm days. By August, the temperature during the heat of the day often exceeds . Traditionally, many businesses closed during August, and Romans abandoned the city for holiday resorts. In more recent years, however, in response to growing tourism and changing work habits, the city is increasingly staying open for the whole summer. The average high temperature in December is about , but subzero lows are not uncommon.
At the time of the Emperor , Rome was the largest city in the world, and probably the largest built until the 19th century. Estimates of its peak population range from 450,000 to over 3.5 million people, with 1 to 2 million being most popular with historians. Estimates have been made using the weight and consumption of imported grain and the free dole to 20% of the population. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, this suggests an 800,000 - 1.2 million inhabitants based on various per captia consumption figures. The figure 25.5 million modii of grain (400 million pounds) in storage in the time of emperor Septimius Severus is taken from the late 4th century Historia Augusta. The city population may have been as high as 600,000 until the loss of the richest North African Provinces in the 430s, 440s, and 450s. Thereafter, the population fell rapidly without grain imports (except for some from and ) and the unwillingness of the upper classes to support the continued cost to them after the loss of many of their own estates outside Italy. Moreover, it was not worth the effort to maintain an artificially large population. However, every effort was made to keep the area of the Palatine and Forum intact as well as the largest Baths and some other amenities for a smaller population of 90-150,000. After the , the city's population fell dramatically to less than 50,000 people, and continued to either stagnate or shrink until the . When the annexed Rome in 1870, the city had a population of about 200,000, which rapidly increased to 600,000 by the eve of . The Fascist regime of Mussolini tried to block an excessive demographic rise of the city, but failed to prevent it from reaching one million people by 1931. After the , growth continued, helped by a post-war economic boom. A construction boom also created a large number of suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s.
In 2007, there were 2,718,768 people resident in Rome (some 4 million live in the greater Rome area), located in the province of Rome, , of whom 47.2% were male and 52.8% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 17.00 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 20.76 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of a Roman resident is 43 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Rome grew by 6.54 percent, while as a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The current birth rate of Rome is 9.10 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
As of 2006, 92.63% of the population was , either born in Rome or coming from other cities in the country. The largest ethnic minority groups came from other an countries (mostly from and ): 3.14%, (mostly ): 1.28%, and the (mostly from ): 1.09%.
The territory of is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields, where , the , the , and museums were built, along with various other buildings. The area was part of the Roman of until 1929. Being separated from the city, on the west bank of the river, the area was an outcrop of the city that was protected by being included within the walls of , and later expanded by the current fortification walls of //. When the of 1929 that gave the state its present form was being prepared, the boundaries of the proposed territory was influenced by the fact that much of it was all but enclosed by this loop. For some tracts of the frontier, there was no wall, but the line of certain buildings supplied part of the boundary, and for a small part of the frontier a modern wall was constructed.
The territory includes , distinguished from the territory of only by a white line along the limit of the square, where it touches Piazza Pio XII. St. Peter's Square is reached through the , which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's. This grand approach was constructed by after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty. According to the Lateran Treaty, certain that are located in Italian territory, most notably and the , enjoy extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign .
Often overlooked, Rome's medieval heritage is one of the largest in Italian cities. Basilicas dating from the age include and (the latter largely rebuilt in the 19th century), both housing precious 4th century AD mosaics. . Lay buildings include a number of towers, the largest being the and the , both next the Roman Forum, and the huge staircase leading to the basilica of .
Renaissance and Baroque
Rome was a major world centre of the , second only to , and was profoundly affected by the movement. The most impressive masterpiece of in Rome is the by , along with the Palazzo Senatorio, seat of the city government. During this period, the great aristocratic families of Rome used to build opulent dwellings as the (now seat of the ), the , the , the , the (now seat of the ), the , the , and the .
Rome is also famous for her huge and majestic squares (often adorned with ), many of which were built in the 17th century. The principal squares are , , , , and . One of the most emblematic examples of Baroque art is the by . Other notable 17th-century are the , now the seat of the and the , now the seat of the .
In 1870, Rome became the capital city of the new . During this time, , a building style influenced by the architecture of , 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 or "Altar of the Fatherland", where the , that represents the 650,000 Italians that fell in , is located.
The Fascist regime that ruled in Italy between 1922 and 1943 developed an architectural style that was characterised by its links with ancient Roman architecture. The most important Fascist site in Rome is the district, designed in 1938 by . It was originally conceived for the , and was called "E.42" ("Esposizione 42"). The world exhibition, however, never took place because entered the in 1940. The most representative building of the Fascist style at E.U.R. is the (1938–1943), the iconic design of which has been labelled the cubic or Square Colosseum.
After World War II, the Roman authorities found that they already had the seed of an off-centre business district of the type that other capitals were still planning ( and in Paris). Also the , the current seat of Italian Foreign Ministry, was designed in 1935 in Fascist style.
Parks and gardens
Public parks and nature reserves cover a large area in Rome, and the city has one of the largest areas of green space amongst 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 many villas were destroyed during the building boom of the late 19th century, a great many remain.
Rome has a number of regional parks of much more recent origin incl
With a 2005 of €94.376 billion (US$121.5 billion), the city produces 6.7% of the national (more than any other single city in ), and its unemployment rate, lowered from 11.1% to 6.5% between 2001 and 2005, is now one of the lowest rates of all the European Union capital cities. Rome grows +4,4% annually and continues to grow at a higher rate in comparison to any other city in the rest of the country.
Although the economy of Rome is characterized by the absence of heavy industry and it is largely dominated by , high-technology companies (IT, aerospace, defense, telecommunications), research, construction and commercial activities (especially banking), and the huge development of tourism are very dynamic and extremely important to its economy. Rome's international airport, , is the largest in Italy, and the city hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Italian companies, as well as the headquarters of three of the world's 100 largest companies.
Universities, national radio and television and the movie industry in Rome are also important parts of the economy: Rome is also the hub of the , thanks to the studios, working since the 1930s. The city is also a centre for banking and insurance as well as electronics, energy, transport, and aerospace industries. Numerous international companies and agencies headquarters, government ministries, conference centres, sports venues, and museums are located in Rome's principal business districts: the (EUR); the Torrino (further south from the EUR); the Magliana; the Parco de' Medici-Laurentina and the so-called Tiburtina-valley along the ancient Via Tiburtina. Tourism is inevitably one of Rome's chief industries, with numerous notable museums including the , the , and the : in 2005 the city registered 19.5 million of global visitors, up of 22.1% from 2001. In 2006 Rome has been visited by 6.03 million of international tourists, reaching the 8th place in the ranking of the world's 150 most visited cities.
Rome is a nation-wide centre for higher education. Its first university, (founded in 1303), is the largest in and the second-largest in the world, with more than 150,000 students attending. Two new public universities were founded: in 1982, and in 1992, although the latter has now become larger than the former. Rome also contains a large number of and institutes, including the (The oldest university in the world, founded in 1551), the , and many others. The city also hosts various private universities, such as the , the (Roman centre), the , , the , the , the , the , the , the Link , the , and the . Rome is also the location of the , a campus of .
Rome is an important centre for music. It hosts the (founded in 1585), for which new concert halls have been built in the new , one of the largest musical venues in the world. Rome also has an opera house, the , as well as several minor musical institutions. The city also played host to the in 1991 and the in 2004.
Rome hosts the Studios, the largest film and television production facility in continental Europe and the centre of the , where a large number of today's biggest box office hits are filmed. The 99-acre (40-ha) studio complex is 5.6 miles (9 km) from the centre of Rome and is part of one of the biggest production communities in the world, second only to , with well over 5,000 professionals — from period costume makers to visual effects specialists.
Founded in 1937 by , the studios were bombed by the during the . In the 1950s, Cinecittà was the filming location for several large American film productions, and subsequently became the studio most closely associated with . Today Cinecittà is the only studio in the world with pre-production, production, and full post-production facilities on one lot, allowing directors and producers to walk in with their script and "walk out" with a completed film.
The original language of Rome was , which evolved during the into . The latter emerged as the confluence of various regional dialects, among which the predominated, but the population of Rome also developed its own dialect, the . The ancient romanesco, used during the , was a southern Italian dialect, very close to the . The influence of the culture during the , and, above all, the immigration to Rome of many Florentines, amongst them the two Popes ( and ) and their suite, caused a major shift in the dialect, which began to resemble more the Tuscan varieties (the immigration of Florentines was mainly due to the and the subsequent demographic decrease). This remained largely confined to Rome until the 19th century, but then expanded to other zones of (, ), from the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the rising population of Rome and to better transportation systems. As a consequence, abandoned its traditional forms to mutate into the dialect spoken within the city, which is more like standard , although it remains distinct from the other Romanesco-influenced local dialects of Lazio.
Rome is at the centre of the radial network of roads that roughly follow the lines of the ancient roman roads that began at the and connected Rome with its empire. Today Rome is circled, at a distance of about , by the ring-road called the .
Due to its location in the centre of the Italian peninsula, Rome is a principal railway node for central Italy. Rome's main train station, , is one of the biggest train stations in Europe and the most heavily-used in Italy, with around 400 thousand travellers passing through every day.
Rome is also served by three airports. The intercontinental is Italy's chief airport and is more commonly known as "Fiumicino Airport", as it is located within the nearby , south-west of Rome. The older is a joint civilian and military airport. It is more commonly referred to as "Ciampino Airport", as it is located beside , south-east of Rome. A third airport, the , is a small, low-traffic airport located about 6 km north of the city centre, which handles most helicopter and private flights.
The city suffers from considerable traffic problems largely due to this radial street pattern, making it difficult for Romans to move easily from the vicinity of one of the radial roads to another without going into the historic centre or using the ring-road. Problems that are not helped by limited size of Rome's metro system when compared to other cities of similar size. In addition, Rome has only 21 taxis for every 10,000 inhabitants, far below other major European cities. Chronic congestion caused by cars during the 1970s and 1980s led to restrictions being placed on vehicle access to the inner city-centre during the hours of daylight. Areas where these restriction apply are known as Limited Traffic Zones (Zona a Traffico Limitato (ZTL) in ). More recently, heavy night-time traffic in and has led to the creation of night-time ZTLs in those districts, and there are also plans to create another night-time ZTL.
A 2-line metro system called the operates in Rome. Construction on the first branch started in the 1930s. The line had been planned to quickly connect the with the newly-planned E42 area in the southern suburbs, where the 1942 was supposed to be held. The event never took place because of war. The area was later partly redesigned and renamed (Esposizione Universale di Roma: Rome Universal Exhibition) in the 1950s to serve as a modern business district. The line was finally opened in 1955, and it is now part of the B Line. The A line opened in 1980 from Ottaviano to Anagnina stations, later extended in stages (1999 – 2000) to Battistini. In the 1990s, an extension of the B line was opened from Termini to Rebibbia. This underground network is generally reliable (although it may become very congested at peak times and during events, especially the A line) as it is relatively short. As of 2005, its total length is . The two existing lines, A & B, intersect at Roma Termini station. A new branch of the B line (B1) is under construction with an estimated cost of €500 million. It is scheduled to open in 2010. B1 will connect to line B at Piazza Bologna and will have 4 stations over a distance of . A third line, line C, is under construction with an estimated cost of €3 billion and will have 30 stations over a distance of . It will partly replace the existing Rail Road line, Termini-Pantano. It will feature full automated, driverless trains. The first section is due to open in 2011 and the final sections in 2015, but archaeological findings often delay underground construction work. A fourth line, line, is also planned. It will have 22 stations over a distance of . The first section is projected to open in 2015 and the final sections before 2035.
Above-ground public transport in Rome is made up of a bus and tram network. This network is run by Trambus S.p.A. under the auspices of ATAC S.p.A. (which originally stood for the Bus and Tram Agency of the Commune, Azienda Tranvie ed Autobus del Comune in Italian). The bus network is currently made up of in excess of 350 bus lines and over 8 thousand bus stops, whereas the more-limited tram system currently has 39 km of track and 192 stops. The figures are from the ATAC (in Italian).
International entities, organisations and involvement
Rome is unique in having a sovereign state located entirely within its city limits, the . The Vatican is a enclave of Rome and a sovereign possession of the , the supreme government of the . Rome hosts foreign embassies to both Italy and the Holy See, although frequently the same ambassador is accredited to both.
Another body, the (SMOM), took refuge in Rome in 1834 after having lost to . It is sometimes classified as having sovereignty but does not claim any territory in Rome or anywhere else, hence leading to dispute over its actual sovereign status.
Rome is also the seat of significant international organisations of the , such as the (WFP), the (FAO), and the (IFAD).
Rome has traditionally been heavily involved in the process of European political integration. In 1957, the city hosted the signing of the , which established the (predecessor to the ), and also played host to the official signing of the proposed in July 2004.
Rome is the seat of the and is the place where the was formulated.