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A city of great legend, of infinite reach throughout the known world, the bones of history that we reside in today, Rome. From the ruins to the Colosseum, the cobbled streets to the grand fountains, the heart of Italy, with its monuments to progression and bold aggressive achievement, will leave any traveller humbled in its wake. No other city inspires quotes like ‘A fool is one who admires other cities without visiting Rome’ – Francesco Petrarca 14th century, and still live up to this review.
- Rome is the bustling capital of the great country of Italy, it is also the capital of the Lazio region. There are 20 regions in Italy and the region of Lazio is one of the most populous due to having Rome in its borders.
- With over 2.8 million people living in the City it checks in as the third most populous city in the European Union.
- Rome’s founding dates back to 753 BC.
- Within the borders of Rome is the world’s smallest country, the Catholic Mecca, The Vatican.
- Food is always a firm staple in the Rome lifestyle and in the ancient times there was a delicacy that is considered cruel today, Flamingo Tongues were eaten by the elite.
- As a grand sign of democracy, the Romans would inscribe the symbol ‘SPQR’ (Senatus Populusque Romanus) which stands for ‘The senate and the people of Rome’. Of course this was a symbol that not all stuck by especially Caesar who removed the powers of the senate and ruled as more of a dictator, short lived as he was assassinated by his own cabinet.
- Host of one of the most infamous monuments of all time, The Colosseum, where gladiators would battle for their life, fame and the emperor’s favour. It’s said that over 400,000 people were killed during the ancient games and over a million animals.
- Aside from Rome being a fountain of history and a culinary destination it is also a centre for education. There are approximately 36 universities and colleges in the central city and the surrounding metropolitan area. There is one in particular that is amongst the oldest in the world, Sapienza University, that turned out greats like Maria Montessori the founder of the Montessori method of teaching, highly regarded as one of the most influential physicians today. ‘You exist only in what you do’ - Federico Fellini, another infamous alumni from Sapienza university, he studied law.
- Driving in Rome is unlike most cities, due to the fact that the roads were built at a time that everything was meant for foot traffic. There are ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato – Limited Traffic Zone) zones throughout the city that are for residents and permit holders only, they are controlled via cameras so you will not be stopped just sent a fine in the mail.
- The most important speed limit that will be in the city bounds will be 50km/h (31 mph) stick to this and below.
- The use of seatbelts in both the front of the car and the back is compulsory. If this is not adhered to then fines are in place as punishment.
- Rome is also known as The Eternal City. It was given this name due to the fact that no matter how many times it was overthrown, destroyed or collapsed it would continue on forever.
Guide to Rome
There can only be one way to start with Rome and that has to be with its history through its great many monuments. Majority of them are ticketed however some are free just crawling with guides. More often than not the best bet is to find the tickets online before you head to places like The Colosseum or The Vatican as you will be able to skip the queues. The guides that surround these places do have different access to the general public but the majority of the inside of these monuments can be seen with a limited online ticket. The Colosseum being the mecca for Gladiators is a spectacular feat in architecture, your ticket will give you access to the mid-level seating paths, more than enough access to grab that selfie, although it does get incredibly busy as the day goes on so best to get there early. The Vatican, home to the Sistine chapel and to Michelangelo’s infamous painting of The Creation of Adam, the online ticket gives you access to this part of the Vatican. There’s a free monument that is also a popular destination, due partly to the film Roman Holiday, this is The Mouth of Truth, where if you put your hand inside and are a liar, the stone will drop on your fingers and sever them.
No doubt Rome isn’t just a destination for monuments and history but also a destination for food. A quick fire list of Pizza places, with there being so many this is probably the best way to hit them, Pinsa e Buoi is a traditional Roman crust and loads of great toppings, Seu Pizza Illuminati puffed crusts and simple ingredients with red sauce to die for, In Fucina not just pizza but the pizza with large helpings of delicious toppings, Emma Pizzeria a little more of a sit down and reflect on Pizza rather than grab and charge through, it’s simple sauce and delicate toppings are there for the thoughtful diner.
Food & drink for the Romans
Porchetta, roasted rolled pork stuffed with herbs and garlic, is a staple for Italians and you’ll find it available in most bars and sandwich shops. Usually around the city they make their own and the best is just near the Doria Pamphili Gallery, which is also well worth a stop in, the Porchetta place is an all-night little bar and the Porchetta is delicious, the bar is in one of the little streets opposite the gallery, not on google so you just have to hunt it down.
There’s so many places in Rome to attend and they are a mixture of tourist traps and local haunts, similar to any great city, one that is well worth the hike is the Mercato Testaccio, not a tourist trap but definitely a destination for all things Italian, the Trippa Sandwich here is city renowned, possibly even world renowned.
The history of Rome is incredibly dense and infinitely long, with some referring to the city as first being part of mythology that existed over 5,000 years ago. Founded by the brother Romulus and Remus, twins that were the children of a priestess and the Roman god of war, Mars. It’s said that they were tossed into the river Tiber and saved by a She-Wolf and suckled on their milk. To honour the She-Wolf they decided to create a city in her honour and called it Rome, however Romulus killed his brother Remus over a dispute as to who had the gods favour. This should give a clear idea of how vast the history of Rome is.
Over 14,000 years of history
The earliest findings that have been discovered that give proof to this area being inhabited are over 10,000 years old, some scholars say even 14,000 years old. The evidence is of stone tools, pottery and weapons made of stone. Some theories are that the city was first a pastoral settlement, this is partially supported by findings on the Palatine Hill. Although the city today is a leviathan of structures, the origins were much more humble in that most villages were slowly built up around the Palatine and then grouped together to form Rome.
Following on from the foundations of Rome, for the next 244 years the city was under Monarchical rule until around 509 BC when the Rome that is more well-known started to come into view. The Romans removed the final king and replaced the governing system with that of an Oligarchical society, this started the troubles between the Aristocratic members of society and the plebeians who were the small land owners. This continued for hundreds of years throughout the wars that allowed the Romans to conquer much of the region and further into Sicily, Corsica, Africa and Hispania. The model of government created much upset between the plebeians and the senate, this lead to internal warring over land and most of the contested areas being handed over to the government, pushing the plebeians into the city. The vicious rule led to an uprising under command of Spartacus which in turn established the first Triumvirate (political regime ruled by three powerful individuals) with Caesar at the helm. Caesar made moves up the ranks in the favour of the people by conquering other countries then with his newfound power established himself as dictator for life. This is famously known for being disliked by his compatriots who assassinated him. From then on the Empire of Rome ruled over the city and most of the region.
Rome in the Middle Ages
During the middle-ages the governing body of Rome was fought against by the Catholics who wished to disband the Empirical ways and enforce a religious rule where all were answerable to the church, ultimately the invention of a pope. There were many popes that ordered the improvement of the city and also the construction of the University of Rome, Sapienza. During the time of the construction of Sapienza the pope died, the cardinals came together to decide on a new pope but all they did was disagree, till they unroofed the building they had met which in turn imprisoned them till they decided, this is the invention of the Conclave that still takes place today in the Sistine chapel anytime a Pope is to be nominated.
The Papal States continued their rule well into the 1800s uncontested, there was a period of French rule during the revolution and even Napoleon annexed the state as part of the French empire. Then along came Mussolini in 1922 who gave rise to Italian Fascism and eventually aligned himself with the Nazi party in Germany. Due to the presence of the Vatican the city was saved from the fate that most of Europe was subject to and was only bombed by Anglo-American forces on 19 July 1943, this was still catastrophic with over 3,000 deaths and 11,000 wounded. Another time in the history of Rome that it’s foundations of government, architecture and vibrant life were challenged but managed to survive making it The Eternal City.
This is an abridged version of Rome’s history. Many details have been omitted.
Airports in Rome
There are two operating commercial airports in Rome, one by the west coast, Leonardo Da Vinci Airport which is more commonly known as Rome – Fiumicino (FCO) and the other Giovan Battista Pastine Airport which is again more commonly known as Rome – Ciampino (CIA). Ciampino airport is southeast of the city centre, Fiumucino airport is the main arrival and departure point for the city which also serves as a crucial stopover point for many flights due to it being in the centre of the Mediterranean.
Ciampino has been opened since 1916 and is a dual terminal airport, there is the National and International Departures and Arrivals terminal for low-cost and charter airlines then there is the General Aviation terminal for air taxi and private flights. The airport was used primarily as a military base up until 1947. In 2019 over 5 and a half million passengers passed through here and over 18 million tonnes of cargo were processed. There is a good selection of car hire at the Arrivals terminal with the following companies operating out of there, Avis, Rentalcars.com, Hertz, Holiday Autos, Sixt, Enterprise. The journey from the airport into the city centre is around thirty minutes on a smooth run however Rome is a busy city with a lot of small streets so this figure can jump up quickly.
Fiumucino is the main airport for most international flights and holds the title of being one of the busiest in Europe by passenger traffic. The airport was officially opened on 15 January 1961 despite being tentatively in use since 1960. It was built to service the high demand that Ciampino couldn’t handle. In 2019 over 43 million passengers travelled through this port. There are 3 main passenger terminals, T1, T3 and T5. There are 3 VIP lounges, two of which are open to everyone, at a price. Car rental desks are located in Office Tower 2, accessible through the pedestrian tunnels that connect the terminal buildings. The car hire companies on offer are Autovia, Avis – Budget, Europcar, Goldcar – Interrent, Hertz, Thrifty, Dollar, Firefly, Karym Rent, Leasys, Locauto, Enterprise, National, Alamo, Maggiore, Rent4U, Sicily by Car, Sixt.
Fiumucino is the first airport in Italy to be introducing the Biometric Access Control, the facial recognition software that will allow the passenger to use their boarding pass and documents only once. The passenger requests to register their biometric data, pass and documents at the their first entry point then cameras throughout the rest of the airport will confirm that passenger, even up to getting on the plane where a dedicated access checkpoint is setup for boarding.
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