Introduction to Rome
Built on the banks of River Tiber, the fourth most populous city in the European Union, Rome is also the capital of Italy and the Lazio region. Rome is the largest city in Italy and spans an area of nearly 1285.3 sq km (496.3 sq miles) and has a population of 2.87 million as of December 2014 . Rome is the seat of the Italian government and attracts over seven million international tourists each year. The historic legacy of the city, the beauty, and the cultural refinement make up the mystique of Rome. Once the capital of the world’s mightiest empire, is now home to some of the most beautiful architectural marvels. Globalization & World Cities Research (GaWC) rated Rome as a Beta+ city in its last conducted survey.
The history of Rome dates back to more than 2500 years. The city served as the capital of the venerable Roman Empire, which was a dominant force spreading over the Mediterranean for over seven centuries from 1st century BC to the 7th century AD. Rome is also regarded as the birthplace of the Western civilization. Since the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1st century BC, Rome has been the seat of Papacy (the rule of the Holy Pope). In the 8th century AD, it was officially proclaimed as the capital of the Papal States. Later in 1871, Rome became the capital of The Italian Kingdom, and in 1946, it was made the capital city of the Republic of Italy.
Traditional stories passed on by ancient Romans explain the earliest history with reference to myth and folklore. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of the twins called Romulus and Remus, who were saved and nourished by a she-wolf. During the World Wars, the city had faced significant destruction. Italy was saved from torment of war after the fall of Hitler. The city was rebuilt, and by the middle of 1950s, Rome slowly grew into a fashionable metropolis that it is today.
|Facts about Rome|
|Area||496 sq miles|
|Population||2.87 million (as of December, 2014)|
|Average Summer Temperature||68°F|
|Average Winter Temperature||51°F|
|Dialing Code||Country 39, City 6|
|Major Airports||Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO); Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA)|
|Geographic Coordinates||41°90′N, 12°50′E|
|Time Zone||Central European Time (GMT+2)|
Getting in and around Rome
- By Air: Rome is served by two airports: the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) and the Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA). Fiumicino is the major airport here and is connected well with downtown Rome through an express train. However, the express train runs only during the morning hours. It takes about half an hour to reach Stazione Termini, main train station, from the airport.
Ciampino is comparatively a smaller airport, which runs only budget airlines and charter flights. You can take a COTRAL bus to reach the main hub of the city from this airport. Local transport options include buses, taxis, and metro. Cars and scooters are also available on hire. The Metro, however, is by far the quickest and easiest.
- Bus: The bus network in Rome is extensive and well connected to the prominent areas of the city. Buses leave from the Termini Central Station. Besides, the city is also served by electric and night buses.
- Metro: The Rome Metro comprises three lines – Line A (orange), Line B (blue) and Line C (green) – which serve 67 stations covering a distance of 53.2 km. Metro service is quite frequent in the city, as trains run at intervals of every seven to ten minutes.
The warm Mediterranean climate makes Rome a popular destination throughout the year. However, most tourists throng the city from June to August. The weather remains hot to warm during these months and the chance of getting rains is pretty low. Summer in Rome makes an ideal time for sightseeing and this is a prime reason why people prefer planning their tour during this time.
Rome's best kept secrets are believed to be manifested during spring. The Giornate FAI di Primavera, Settimana della Cultura, and Natale di Roma are some of the events celebrated in Spring.
Culture and Traditions
Romans are fun-loving people who celebrate every festivals with joy. Some of the major festivals that the city hosts are :
- Natale di Roma: Celebrated on April 21, Natale di Roma marks the birth of Rome. A number of festivities are arranged at the Campidoglio and the city hall is decorated with lights.
- Roma Incontra il Mondo: Celebrated in mid-June or early August, musicians across the globe come here and play their tune on a lakeside stage of the Villa Ada Park.
- Festa de Noantri: Celebrated chiefly in Trastevere, residents of this region honor their humble origins with great fervor on this day. Usually celebrated in July, the day starts with a huge procession arranged to honor Madonna del Carmine. Besides, street performances and art events follow for about two weeks post the festival.
- Maratona della Citta di Roma: This annual marathon is organized in the month of March and lures celebrated runners.
Your visit to Rome must include a visit to the historic Colosseum - a monumental structure that has fallen into ruins and yet retains its imposing stature and iconic significance. Construction of the Colosseum was completed in the year 80 AD by the founder of the Flavian Dynasty, Emperor Vespasian. This huge amphitheater was a pride for all the Roman rulers who used to host public meetings, games, sports and gladiator fights. Even today as you walk into the Colosseum, you can imagine the energy of the powerful Roman Empire.
The Trevi Fountain is the second most visited site in Rome. It was built by Nicola Salvi on orders of Pope Clement XII at the Trevi Square. Work on the fountain was completed in 1762. It is a common belief that tossing coins into the fountain brings good luck.
Pantheon should be your next stop. It was originally a temple for all the pagan Gods, which was converted to a church in 609 AD. The Pantheon contains the tomb of the famous Italian artist Rafael and many other Italian emperors. The marble floorings and the geometric pattern of the wall designs essentially highlight the early Roman artistry.
Circus Maximus is for those who have admired the largest stadiums in the world, be it in Mexico, China, or Germany. With a seating capacity of over 2,50, 000, this is the mecca of all the chariot races during the Roman times. Built in the 6th century BC, this place has witnessed a lot of the history of the Roman Empire. Ancient Rome's claim of having stadia, which were double the size of even the largest stadiums of today, is not quite unfounded.
Rome is also home to the largest church in the world, the St. Peter’s Basilica. It was built by Emperor Constantine in 364 AD. The church was originally built on the burial ground of the Chief Apostle, St. Peter, after his death in 64 AD. Today, it is the seat of Christianity, the office of the Holy Pope and the most visited church of the world.
A visit to the Vatican museums cannot be missed on a tour to Rome. These museums contain a detailed history of Christianity. Here, you are likely to discover anecdotes that are straight out of the history books. These museums were built in the 18th century AD.
Next, head to the Piazza Venezia. This town square is located at the heart of Rome. From here, it is just a short walk to some of most famous attractions of the city, such as the Campidoglio, the Forum Romanum and the Pantheon. You have to take a short trip to the smallest country in the world – the Vatican City State. This is home to the highest office of Christianity. None of the residents are permanent here; it is only till the time they hold offices that they are allowed to settle here. This is under the rule of the Pope’s Office and is guarded by the famous Swiss Army Guards.
Beyond Sightseeing in Rome
The best way to enjoy the culture and be one with the spirit of the city is by being outdoors. As the weather remains mild for most part of the year, every square often resembles an outdoor party. Join the locals and take an evening “passeggiata” – a leisurely stroll – down the streets.
Take a walk at Campo de' Fiori around midnight and the life in Rome will look equally vibrant. If you want to visit nightclubs, take a walk to the Piazza Navona and Via della Pace – this place has many wine and coffee bars and are frequented by tourists. If you are looking for a more pulsating environment where music and interaction hit higher decibels, visit Campo de Fiori. It is a place where revelers gather to party harder.
Remember, you night-time sojourn is never over without a visit to Testaccio and Ostiense. This areas have the maximum concentration of bars, discos and resto-bars. The choice is plentiful. Romans love Irish pubs, so you will find a number of them in every corner of the city.
When it comes to fashion, Rome is the place to be. For the serious shopper, Rome is an enticement. Via dei Condotti houses the biggest designer labels in the world. Most of the famous European designers have their stores on this street. Do not miss out Via del Corso, this street has the Ferrari flagship store and Swarovski retail outlets, a must-visit for some retail therapy in Rome. For the art shoppers, Piazza Navona is the city's hotspot. With a host of arts and antique stores, this is a serious art collector’s hangout.
Restaurants in Rome
Like the rest of Italy eating out in Rome is almost a religion. For the true connoisseurs of food, Piazza Vittoria is the place to be. This street has fresh food stalls and other cuisines from all over the world run by people from different ethnic origins. Take your time, appreciate the food, and tip well when in Rome. People appreciate etiquette. Here are some of the best restaurants in Rome:
Piazzale Aurelio 7, Rome
Tel: 39 06 581 5274
Primo al Pigneto|
Via del Pigneto 46, Rome
Tel: 39 06 701 3827
Via Giovanni di Castel Bolognese 63 Rome
Tel: 39 06 581 2792
Ristorante il Pagliaccio|
Via dei Banchi Vecchi 129a, Rome
Tel: 39 06 6880 9595
Fortunato al Pantheon|
Via del Pantheon 55, Rome
Tel: 00 39 06 679 2788
Il Convivio Troiani|
Vicolo dei soldati, 31, Rome
Tel: 39 06 6869432
Accommodation in Rome
St Regis Grand Rome
Via Vittorio E Orlando 3, Rome 00185
Tel: 39 06 47 091
Via Ludovisi 49, Rome 00187
Tel: 39 06 478 121
Hotel Teatro Pace|
Via del Teatro Pace 33, Rome 00186
Tel: 39 06 68 79 075
Hotel Villa Rosa|
Via Giovanni Prati 1 Rome 00152
Tel: 39 06 58 10 243 / 58 83 643
Via Boezio 31, Rome 00192
Tel: 39 06 68 74 030
Piazza del Monte di Pietà 30, Rome 00186
Tel: 39 06 68 33 909