Rome Guide

Rome Guide

Never bored in Rome! You can spend your day just as you like. Why don’t start with a breakfast italiano: a nice and strong espresso or a cappuccino (with some milk foam) and a brioche (sweet bread). Yes, that’s it – pranzo (lunch) is the real meal. After breakfast, make a visit to the Coliseum, walk your way to the piazza Venezia to admire the megalomaniac building of the 19th century and get a nice view of the city. Continue your walk to Largo Argentina (the so-called Cat Forum), the old temple of the Pantheon and Piazza Navona with its elegant fountain and its artists ready to make your caricature. When it’s time to eat, take your pizza at Rome’s best pizzeria, Da Baffetto, before you are going for a cocktail on Campo dei Fiori (see the Entertainment section). That’s what they call la dolce vita; the sweet life! Most of the attractions are situated in the larger area of the centre, which basically can be seen as the area around the Via del Corso, all the way to the river Tiber on the west side of it. However, popular areas as the Vatican, the Colosseum area and the very hip neighbourhood Trastevere, the place to be for an aperitivo, fall outside this part of the city. Therefore, sometimes you’ll have to depend on public transport (See the Getting Around section).

History of Rome

The history of Rome goes back for centuries. In his classic work From the foundation of the City, the famous Roman historian Livius tells how the brothers Remus and Romulus founded the city in 753 before Christ. As the brothers have been raised by a wolf, this animal appears in Rome’s coat of arms and in many other symbols related to the city. See for instance the wolf statue at the Capitol hill. Ancient Rome started as a small town on seven hills, but later would grow out to the biggest city of the world. Over the first centuries, Rome was a kingdom and then a republic, but in the second half of the first century before Christ that would change. The ambitious general Julius Caesar decided to march against Rome. Eventually, he gained power and became the first emperor. He was succeeded by Augustus, one of the strongest emperors and a supporter of artists like Livius and Virgil. Virgil’s Aeneis tells the story of the hero Aeneas and his long travels to Italy after the fall of Troy. The empire reached its biggest territory in the beginning of the second century after Christ, stretching to Scotland, Romania, the Caucasus, the Holy Land and Northern Africa. Decadence and decay followed and whilst Christendom expanded, the empire slowly was overrun by the other peoples of Europe.

Only from the 15th century onwards, Rome retook the central position in history. Italy gained momentum in the Renaissance and as the seat of the Catholic Church, Rome counted more and more. In the first half of the 16th century, the famous St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican was build, with the cooperation of world famous artists as Michelangelo and Bernini. For years, the popes didn’t just rule over the souls of the Christian world, but also over a big piece of territory in central Italy. This was halted in 1870, when Rome was conquered by the recently united kingdom of Italy. Since then, the popes’ earthly authority is limited to the 0,44 km2 of Vatican City. Rome quickly became capital of the new kingdom and home to its kings, but the peace between the popes and Italy was only signed in 1929 under Mussolini, Italy’s fascist prime minister. In the 20th century Rome has seen some notable extensions, such as the modern neighbourhood EUR in the 1930s and the Olympic Village, build for the Olympic Games of 1960. Rome is the location of the Italian government and many important industries, such as the famous Cinecittà movie studios where Fellini shot scenes of classic movies as La Dolce Vita and Amarcord.

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