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.
THE ROMAN REPUBLIC AND EMPIRE
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.
PAPAL AND RENAISSANCE 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.
THE MODERN CITY
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.
St Peters Square
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