There is a well known saying about Rome: "ROMA, NON BASTA UNA VITA" ("Rome, one lifetime is not enough"). And considering its rich, long history, magnificent artworks, stunning architecture and cultural treasures, marvelous legends, amazing fashion, and cuisine, a lifetime would not be enough to take in everything it can offer. Rome's and Italy
's worldwide impact is apparent everywhere from art and architecture to fashion and cuisine.
Rome has had multiple nicknames. It has been called "The Eternal City" ("Urbs Aeterna" in Latin, "La Città Eterna" in Italian) since the Roman poet Tibullus coined the name in the 1st century BC. It is also considered "Caput Mundi" ("Capital of the World"), coming from a Latin expression used in ancient times for the most important cities of the world: initially only Rome and Jerusalem, then Constantinople, and then later London, and New York City, with Washington, D.C. being added as "Novum Caput Mundi" (New Capital of the world). Roman Emperor Septimius Severus referred Rome the "Urbs Sacra" (the Sacred City), and Augustus Caesar called it the "City of Marble", famously saying "I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble" due to its large number of stunning marble palaces, churches, statues, fountains, plazzas. It was called the "City of God" in a book of Christian philosophy written in Latin by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century AD, and dubbed "The City of Love", alongside Paris and Verona.
It is also known as "The City on Seven Hills", as traditionally it is considered to be built on seven hills on the banks of the Tiber River:
- Capitoline Hill (in Latin Collis Capitolinus, in Italian Campidoglio)
- Palatine Hill (in Latin Collis Palatinus, in Italian Palatino)
- Quirinal Hill (in Latin Collis Quirinalis, in Italian Quirinale)
- Aventine Hill (in Latin Collis Aventinus, in Italian Aventino)
- Esquiline Hill (in Latin Collis Esquilinus, in Italian Esquilino)
- Viminal Hill (in Latin Collis Vimnalis, in Italian Viminale)
- Caelian Hill (in Latin Collis Cælius, in Italian Celio)
In addition, though, present-day Rome is also built on three other hills, which were not included in the ancient city of Rome and thus not counted in the traditional list of Seven Hills:
- Vatican Hill (in Latin Collis Vaticanus)
- Pincian Hill (in Latin Mons Pincius)
- Janiculum Hill (in Latin Ianiculum)
It is said that the Roman State was formed from the merging of the two ancient tribes of Latins, living on the Palatine Hill, and Sabines, living on the Quirinal and Esquiline Hills.
Rome was created around the 14th century BC from small agricultural settlements on the Palatine hill. Slower, they started developing and trading with the Greek colonies from southern Italy.
Later, it was inhabited by the Latin, Sabine and Etruscan tribes. The Roman Kingdom was formed around 753 BC, and according to the tradition there were seven kings during this period: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus. The kingdom came to an end around 509 BC with the expulsion of the last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, and the establishment of the Roman Republic. Roman society under the Republic was a cultural mix of Latin, Etruscan, and Greek elements. During this time, Rome, defeating Carthage, its main greatest enemy and competitor, became the dominant power of the ancient Mediterranean world. The Roman Republic ended in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. In 395 AD, the Roman Empire separated into the Western Roman Empire, including present-day Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, parts of Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Tunisia, and the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire), including the present Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, and Cyprus. Rome remained the capital of both empires until 476, when Constantinople (current Istanbul) became the capital to the Byzantine Empire (the former Eastern Roman Empire), and the Western Roman Empire slowly fell to the Germanic kings. This marked the end of the Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Around the 5th century, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Papacy, and in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the 14th-15th centuries, at the beginning of the Renaissance, the popes pursued a coherent architectural and urban program over four hundred years aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural center of the world. Thus, Rome became first one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, and then the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters, sculptors, and architects made Rome the center of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city.
The rest of the Italian provinces were united as the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 with a temporary capital in Florence
, while Rome was still part of the Papal States under French protection, according to the foreign policy of Napoleon III. In 1870 the French troops were withdrawn due to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, and the Italian troops captured Rome. Pope Pius IX declared himself a prisoner in the Vatican. In 1871 the capital of Italy was moved from Florence to Rome. But the Papal State did not recognize the Italian king's right to rule in Rome until the Lateran Treaty in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, which recognized Vatican City
as an independent state under the sovereignty of the Holy See.
In 1946 the Kingdom of Italy became the Italian Republic, with its capital in Rome.
According to legends, the Roman state was founded by the mythical Romulus, the first king of Rome. Romulus and his twin brother Remus were sons of Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, the former king of Alba Longa and descended from the Trojan hero Aeneas and Latinus, the mythical founder of the kingdom of Latium. Numitor had been usurped by his brother, Amulius, who ordered the two brothers to be thrown in the Tiber River. Instead, the servants left the two babies by the river, where a wolf mother found them and tended to them with her own cubs until a herdsman and his wife found and adopted them. After reaching adulthood, they killed Amulius and reinstated their grandfather Numitor as king. They found the city of Rome on the hills where they grew up, traditionally assumed to be on April 21, 753 BC. But Remus was killed in a conflict with his brother, and Romulus became the king of the newly established city of Rome.
As the majority of the people colonizing the new city were men, they feared that the new city could not grow and expand. Romulus sought to find brides for his people in the neighboring settlements, being rejected by them. He and his men organized festivities and games with horse racing and drinking at the Circus Maximus and invited their neighboring tribes, including the Sabine tribe. At a previously arranged signal, the Latins kidnapped the women to marry them. This event, the "Rape of the Sabine Women", inspired many artworks.
This event started a war, in which the Latins, living on the Palatine Hill, defeated all the other tribes except the Sabines, living on the Quirinal and Esquiline Hills. The Sabines, under the command of their leader, Titus Tatius, sent their armies to Rome. At one of the most critical points at the battle, when the Romans seemed to start losing the battle, the Sabine women threw themselves and their children between the armies of their fathers and their husbands, thus pushing the two kings to make peace and form the Roman state, jointly ruled by Romulus and Tatius until Tatius' death five years later, when Romulus remained the sole king of Rome.