Rome (Italian and Latin: Roma) is the capital city of Italy and of its Latium region. It is located on the lower Tiber river, near the Mediterranean Sea. The Vatican City, a sovereign enclave within Rome, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope.
Rome is the largest city in Italy and its municipality is one of the largest in Europe with an area of 1290 square kilometers (it could easily encircle the nine largest italian cities: Milan, Naples, Turin, Bologna, Palermo Catania, Florence, Genoa and Bari). It has a population of 2,546,807 (2004) with almost 4 million living in the metropolitan area. The current mayor of Rome is Walter Veltroni.
With a GDP of € 75 billion (higher than New Zealand's and equivalent to Singapore's), in the year 2001 Rome's municipality produced 6,5% of Italy's total GDP, the highest rate among all of Italy's cities.
The city's history extends nearly 2,800 years, during which time it has been the seat of the ancient Rome (the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic, Roman Empire), and later the Papal States, Kingdom of Italy and Italian Republic.


The origin of the city's name is unknown, with several theories already circulating in Antiquity; the least likely is derived from Greek meaning braveness, courage; more probably the connection is with a root *rum-, "teat", with possible reference to the totem wolf (Latin lupa, a word also meaning "prostitute") that adopted and suckled the cognately-named twins Romulus and Remus.


Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill and surrounding hills approximately eighteen miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea on the south side of the Tiber. Another of these hills, the Quirinal Hill, was probably an outpost for another Italic speaking people the Sabines. At this location the Tiber forms an S shaped curve that contains an island where the river can be forded. Because of the river and the ford, Rome was at a cross roads of traffic following the river valley and of traders traveling north and south on the west side of the peninsula.


According to tradition, Rome became a republic in 509 BC. By the end of the Republic, the city of Rome had achieved a grandeur befitting the capital of an empire dominating the whole of the Mediterranean. This grandeur increased under Caesar Augustus and his successors: if anything, the Great Fire of Rome during the reign of Nero acted as an excuse for further development.
From the early 3rd century, matters changed. Rome formally remained capital of the empire but emperors spent less and less time there. In 330, Constantine established a second capital at Constantinople, and even the later western emperors ruled from Milan or Ravenna, not Rome. However, the Senate, while stripped of most of its political power, was still socially prestigious and the Empire's conversion to Christianity made the Bishop of Rome (later called the Pope) the senior religious figure in the Western Empire. Also, the empire was now more open to external attack - Rome's first city walls for several hundred years were built in about 270, and even these did not stop the city being sacked first by Alaric in 410 and then by Geiseric in 455.
For more details of the civilization, history, geographical expansion, and political system born in the ancient city of Rome, see Ancient Rome.


When Pepin III defeated the Lombards in 756, Rome became the capital city of the Papal States, a territorial entity at least nominally ruled by the Papacy. In practice, however, the government of the city was hotly contested between various factions of Roman nobility, the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, and occasional republican insurrections. After the suppression of the republic of 1434, the Papacy folded the government of Rome into the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. During this period Rome became the worldwide centre of Christianity and increasingly developed a relevant political role that made it one of the most important towns of the Old Continent. In art, although Florence became the center of humanism and the Rinascimento (Renaissance), Rome was the center of baroque, and architecture deeply affected its central areas.
In the 16th century a central area was delimited around the Porticus Octaviae, for the creation of the famous Roman Ghetto, in which the city's Jews were forced to live.
Some of the most famous views of Rome in the 18th century were etched by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. His grand vision of classic Rome inspired many to visit the city and examine the ruins themselves.


The Roman urban form reflects the stratification of the epochs of its long history, with a wide historical center; this today contains many areas from Ancient Rome, very few areas from Quattrocento (mainly around piazza Farnese), and many churches and palaces from baroque times. The historical center is identified as within the limits of the ancient imperial walls. Some central areas were reorganised after the unification (1880–1910 - Roma Umbertina), and some important additions and adaptations made during the Fascist period, with the discussed creation of the Via dei Fori Imperiali and the founding of new quartieri (among which Eur, San Basilio, Garbatella, Cinecittà and, on the coast, the restructuring of Ostia) and the inclusion of bordering villages (Labaro, Osteria del Curato, Quarto Miglio, Capannelle, Pisana, Torrevecchia, Ottavia, Casalotti). These expansions were needed to face the huge increase of population due to the centralisation of the Italian state.
During the Second World War Rome suffered some heavy bombings (notably at San Lorenzo) and battles (Porta San Paolo, La Storta) and was considered an "open town" (as in the film by Roberto Rossellini). However, Rome was spared the wholesale destruction of cities such as Berlin or Warsaw. Rome fell to the Allies on June 4, 1944. It was the first capital of an Axis nation to fall.
After the war Rome continued to expand due to Italy's growing state administration and industry, with the creation of new quartieri and suburbs. The current official population stands at 2.5 million; during the business day workers increase this figure to over 3.5 million. This is a dramatic increase from previous figures, which were 138,000 in 1825, 244,000 in 1871, 692,000 in 1921, 1,600,000 in 1961.
Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics, using many ancient sites such as the Villa Borghese and the Thermae of Caracalla as venues.
Many of the monuments of Rome were restored by the Italian state and by the Vatican for the 2000 Jubilee.
Being the capital city of Italy, Rome hosts all the principal institutions of the nation, like the Presidency of the Republic, the government (and its single Ministeri), the Parliament, the main judicial Courts, and the diplomatic representatives of all the countries for the states of Italy and the Vatican City (curiously, Rome also hosts, in the Italian part of its territory, the Embassy of Italy for the Vatican City, a unique case of an Embassy within the boundaries of its own country). Many international institutions are based in Rome, notably cultural and scientific ones, or humanitarian like the FAO.
Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to its immense heritage of archaeological and artistic treasures, as well as for its unique traditions and the beauty of its views and its "villas" (parks). Among the most interesting resources, plenty of museums (Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, and a great many others), churches, historical buildings, the monuments and ruins such as the Roman Forum or the Catacombs.
Among its hundreds of churches, Rome contains the five Major Basilicas of the Catholic church: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran, Rome's cathedral), Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's Basilica), Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), and Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls). The Bishop of Rome is the Pope, in his pastoral activity strictly applicable to the city, he is assisted by a vicar (usually a cardinal).

Roman Forum
Sistine Chapel
Trevi Fountain
St Peters Square
Vatican Museums
Piazza Navona