Rome, Caput mundi ("capital
of the world"), Limen Apostolorum ("threshold of the Apostles"), la città
dei sette colli ("the city of the seven hills") or simply l'Urbe ("the
City"), is thoroughly modern and cosmopolitan. As one of the few major
European cities that escaped World War II relatively unscathed, central
Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character. The Historic
Centre of Rome is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site by virtue
of its three thousand years of accumulated history and art.
According to legend, the city
of Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on April 21, 753 BC.
Archaeological evidence supports claims that Rome was inhabited since the
8th century BC and earlier. The city was the cradle of Roman civilization
that produced the largest and longest-lasting empire of classical antiquity
that reached its greatest extent in AD 117. The city was pivotal and responsible
for the spread of Greco-Roman culture that endures to this day. Rome is
also identified with the Roman Catholic Church and has been the episcopal
seat of the Popes since the 1st century AD. The State of the Vatican City,
the sovereign territory of the Holy See and smallest nation in the world,
is an enclave of Rome.
The Pantheon is Italy's best-preserved
ancient building, It started out as a pagan temple and then became a church.
There is a nice piazza in front of it that makes a nice place for an evening
drink (although pricey).
Rome Attractions: Just walking
around in Rome can by entertaining and you will can something interesting
almost anywhere. Here are some of Rome's top attractions.
St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica
di San Pietro is the largest Roman Catholic building in the world. It houses
important works by Michelangelo and Bernini.
Vatican Museums - Musei
Vaticani, the largest museum complex in the world, house art spanning 3000
years from the Classical and modern world. Here you will find the Sistine
Chapel and Michelangelo's frescoes.
The Colosseum - Colosseo
is the largest monument in existence from Imperial Rome. It is a huge amphitheater
that housed the fierce gladiator and wild animal fights. A good approach
is along the Via dei Fori Imperiali
The Roman Forum - Foro Romano
is one of the city's most important archaeological sites. It was the focal
point of Republican Rome and has monuments from 900 years of history. Best
of all it's free!
The Capitoline Hill is a
great place to get a view of the Roman Forum. The focal point of the hill
is the grand Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo. There are
two important museums housing an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings,
frescoes, and mosaics.
Piazza Navona is a lively
piazza ringed by upscale cafes. At its center are three lavish fountains.
The Villa Borghese houses
the Galleria Borghese, a large collection of famous sculptures and paintings.
Other sovereign states
Rome is unique in its containing
two other sovereign states. One is the Holy See, the political and religious
entity that governs the territory of the Vatican City (a de facto enclave
since 1870, officially recognised as such in 1929), as well as claiming
extraterritorial rights over a few other palaces and churches, mostly in
the city centre; indeed, Rome hosts foreign embassies to both Italy and
the Holy See. The other state is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
(SMOM), which took refuge in Rome in 1834 after having lost Malta to Napoleon
in 1798, and thus currently claims no territory (leading to disputes over
its actual sovereign status
Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City
The city of Rome surrounds
the Vatican City, the enclave of the Holy See, which is a separate sovereign
state. It hosts Saint Peter's Square with the Saint Peter's Basilica. The
open space before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini,
from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, as an appropriate
forecourt, designed "so that the greatest number of people could see the
Pope give his blessing, either from the middle of the façade of
the church or from a window in the Vatican Palace" (Norwich 1975 p 175).
In Vatican City there are also the prestigious Vatican Library, Vatican
Museums with the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and other important
works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Giotto, Botticelli.
Top 10 Cities in Italy -
Italian Cities Worth a Visit
Italy has many beautiful
and historic cities worth a visit. Travel to cities is best done by train
as driving in Italian cities may be very difficult and the extensive Italian
train system is inexpensive. Most city centers are well-suited to walking
and parts of the city centers may be closed to transportation. Large Italian
cities generally have good public transportation, too.
1) Rome - Roma
Rome is the capital of modern
Italy. Rome is full of history everywhere you look. It has many ancient
monuments, interesting medieval churches, beautiful fountains, museums,
and Renaissance palaces. Modern Rome is a bustling and lively city and
has some excellent restaurants and nightlife. The Vatican and St. Peter's
are also found in Rome.
2) Venice - Venezia
Venice is a unique city
built on water in the middle of a lagoon. It is considered to be one of
Italy's most beautiful and romantic cities. The heart of Venice is Piazza
San Marco with its magnificent church. There are many museums, palaces,
and churches to visit and wandering along the canals is interesting. Venice
is in the northwest of Italy and historically was a bridge between East
3) Florence - Firenze
Florence is one of the most
important Renaissance architectural and art centers. Its Duomo and Baptistry
are magnificent but crowded with tourists as is their large piazza. Florence
has several interesting museums with many famous paintings and sculptures.
There are also Medici palaces and gardens. Florence is in Tuscany.
4) Turin - Torino
Turin hosts the winter Olympics
in February, 2006. It is a major cultural hub with excellent museums, elegant
shops, and good restaurants. There are also some very nice examples of
baroque architecture and historic palaces. It has many historic cafes,
artisan workshops, and arcades. Turin is in the northeast of Italy, between
the Po River and the foothills of the Alps.
5) Milan - Milano
Milan, one of Europe's richest
cities, is known for stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants and has
a faster pace of life than most Italian cities. It also has a rich artistic
and cultural heritage. Its Duomo, with its beautiful marble facade, is
magnificent. La Scala is one of the world's most famous opera houses. Milan
is in northern Italy, about 30 miles south of the alps, and near Lakes
Como and Maggiore.
6) Naples - Napoli
Naples is one of Italy's
most vibrant cities. It lies on the coast south of Rome and is the most
important city in southern Italy. Naples has recently undergone some renovation
but still retains much of its old character. It holds many historical and
Bologna is known for its
beauty, wealth, cuisine, and left-wing politics. Its streets are lined
with beautiful arcades, making it a good place to walk even in the rain.
It has one of Europe's oldest universities and a nice medieval center.
There are several attractive squares, lined with buildings with nice porticoes.
Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy.
Perugia is a very cosmopolitan
city and home to two universities. It hosts a world-famous jazz festival
in the summer and its University for Foreigners is a great place to learn
Italian. It's a walled city on a hilltop with great views over the valley
and has several important monuments and a good central square. Its history
goes back to the ninth century BC. Perugia is in the center of Italy and
is the capital of the region of Umbria.
9) Genoa - Genova
Genoa, on the northwest
coast of Italy, is Italy's principal seaport. Genoa was a 2004 European
Culture Capital; money flowed into the port city made famous by Columbus
and now it's a better place than ever to visit. Genoa has a fascinating
aquarium, an interesting port area, and a historic center said to be the
largest medieval quarter in Europe, with a wealth of churches, palaces,
10) Padua - Padova
Padova is a university city
and has some of the best nightlife in the Veneto. It has lively squares
and narrow medieval streets and is home to the oldest botanical garden
in Europe as well as Giotto's frescoes. Its Basilica of Sant'Antonio is
one of Italy's main pilgrim shrines. Not far from Venice, it makes a less
expensive base for exploring Venice for a day trip by train.