Like blood through lungs, I sapped it dry:
Great Rome, amid a summer, vast.
Such majesty still in supply
Although a thousand years had passed–
I drank the rich and sunlit sky

As it grew dark. Those mellow nights
Of stars and wine upon the roof
Have all but faded, leaving lights
Of sordid yellow begging proof
That we were there. The lofty heights

Of monstrous monuments reside
Still in my memory, although
Each time I sigh, the memories slide
Out of my head and form a snow
About my sandalled feet. I tried

So hard to keep those photographs
Pinned on the wall, when other things
Were more important than the laughs
Of friends forgotten, and of springs
And fountains never filled by halves;

And yet, somehow, I have gone blind.
I swore I never would, but now
That vow seems vague and far behind:
Each time I sigh, I can see how
The life of Rome escapes my mind.

A NightWriter original
Prior to Rome's existence the Etruscans inhabited the Italian peninsula. Very little is known regarding the Etruscan culture. 753 BCE marks the founding of Rome. Most stories imply that the city was named for Romulus who outsmarted his brother Remus for ownership of the land. However, Plutarch is very clear to say that "from whom, and for what reason, the city of Rome, a name so great in glory, and famous in the mouths of all men, was so first called, authors do not agree..." The vast majority of the founding of Rome is rooted in myths and legends, none of which can be verified.

Ancient Rome
The actual Roman Republic was founded in 509 BCE. This is the date that marks the overthrow of the Etruscan monarchy and the beginning of the Rome with which most people are familiar. Myth and legend states that the overthrow was a product of the Rape of Lucretia. Prior to the establishment of the Republic, Rome was ruled by Kings. According to most sources there were 7 of these Kings between 753 and 509 BCE. These Kings are considered more myth than reality and few researchers have been able to produce any proof that they ever existed. The establishment of the Republic brought on the ideals of self-government and a sense of morality.

The Roman Republic actually claimed its land in a treaty with Carthage in 510 BCE. However, the Latin League would not recognize such agreements and a war broke out. Rome eventually claimed victory but it was uncertain whether this was true or if it was simply a draw between the two armies. Rome and the Latin League signed a treaty in 493 BCE thus ending the conflict. However, Rome's hand in conflict was far from over. Between 494 and 297 BCE there were a total of five conflicts referred to as The Conflict of the Orders. These conflicts consisted of plebian uprisings and demands for equal rights and representation in the government of the Republic. These uprisings led to the creation of The Twelve Tables. These tables were the recorded Roman law. These laws were engraved and displayed for all to see. The laws laid out rules for public, private and political dealings within the Republic.

Rome's history continued to be pocked with war and uprisings. There were many more conflicts including the Great Latin War, The Punic Wars, and The Macedonian Wars. These conflicts shaped the nature of the government and the state and led to the creation of the Roman Empire which ruled much of Europe until the death of Theodosius the Great in 395.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Rome was once again the target of attacks. The city was sacked several times and the situation was looking pretty dim until late in the 8th century. The Pope decided to back up the Frankish King Pepin the Short who was claiming to be God's chosen one. In return for his support, the Pope received land around Rome and the alliance was known as the Holy Roman Empire which, of course, was neither Holy nor Roman.

Modern Rome
The Popes continued to gain power until 1527 when Charles V sacked Rome. This was followed by The French Revolution, Napoleon’s march and the Franco-Prussian War. These all brought an abrupt end to the power of the Popes and begin the shaping of a new Rome. In 1870, Rome became the capital of the newly united Italy. This left the Pope with no real power in Rome and thus he fled to the Vatican.

The 1920's and 1930's were a time of expansion in Rome. The city extended beyond its walls and Mussolini reigned supreme. During WWII, Mussolini sided with Germany and the city was treated appropriately. Following the war, Rome saw the resurgence of its old spirit and once again became a republic in 1946. The 1970's and 1980's were once again a time of change. Several student groups, the most famous being The Brigate Rosse, led protests against the left-wing government. Much of the 20th century in Rome was concerned with transforming a politically and economically corrupt government.

To this day the city is still undergoing changes and fighting the onset of political extremists from all sides. However, Rome is still a center for tourism. The city is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It is the home to very unique architecture as well as an obvious wealth of history and culture. The city is also home to many artifacts from multiple ancient civilizations. How could you resist the city where Roman Holiday was filmed?


A brief history

He fiddled while Rome burned

According to the legend, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus. For a long time, Rome stayed an insignificant town. Gaul invaders ruined the city in 390 BC, but Rome was rebuilt quickly. During the Punic Wars (264-146 BC), Rome started to grow into a metropolis. The people of Rome began to colonise Spain, northern Africa and Greece.

At the time Rome was devastated by the fires of 64 AD (supposedly emperor Nero played his lyre while watching the city burn), it was considered the capital of the world. The emperors succeeded each other in a speedy rhythm, each of them marking the city with monuments we can still witness today. The city lost its status in 330 AD, when Constantine the Great called out Constantinople as capital of the Roman Empire. Rome was plundered by invading German tribes in the fifth century and stayed relatively trivial for the next centuries. The city blossomed as it was made Papal capital, but the Renaissance finally brought the colour back to the Roman faces. Near the end of the 15th century Rome went beyond Florence as centre of the Renaissance.

The French took Rome in 1797, but the Pope recaptured his position after the Italian nationalists ‘liberatedItaly in 1815 from the Napoleonic forces. The Papal States lasted until 1870, when Italian king Victor Emmanuel II annexed Rome. The Pope was granted the papacy Vatican City as an independent nation-state (officially not before 1929). In the next year 1871, Rome was appointed capital of new Italy. In World War II, Rome was one of the cities that was not bombed. In the 1970s and 1980s, the city was gathering place of rightwing terrorist groups as the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigade), responsible for the death of Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978.


Rome wasn’t built in one day

”It was at Rome, on the 15th of October 1764, as I sat musing amid the ruins of the capitol, while the bare-footed friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind. But my original plan was circumscribed to the decay of the City, rather than of the Empire”

Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Its large history has supplied Rome with lots of significant monuments. An overview:

  • The Coliseum (Colosseo in Italian, after a statue of the Colossus) is an amphitheatre where battling gladiators and Christians running away from lions entertained the Roman spectators. The enormous building was built by emperors Vespasian and Titus, being finished in 82 AD. The stadium contained 50,000 seats. Despite its serious decline over the centuries, the Coliseum is still a majestic construction.
  • When I visited Rome a few years ago, I was especially impressed by the Forum Romanum and the Palatine. This complex of ancient buildings used to be the centre of the Roman Empire more than two thousand years ago. The forum in the middle of the city – next to the Coliseum – started off as a single building, but Julius Caesar and his successors kept on expanding. After the decline of the Roman Empire, the forum was destroyed. Walls and roofs were used as construction material for churches and the entire forum complex even got buried twelve meters under the ground, as new buildings were erected on top of the ruins. In 1871 archaeologists started to rebuild the Forum Romanum, now resulting in one of the most significant visible leftovers from Roman history.
  • The Pantheon was built under Emperor Hadrian's reign, from 125 to 126 AD. The original temple was built by Agrippa in 27 BC, but it was burned down in 80 AD, restored and burned again. The current construction is Hadrian’s. After Rome’s conversion to Catholicism, the Pantheon was made a Catholic Church. Today, the Pantheon is probably the best preserved of all Rome’s ancient buildings, with religious services still held in it. The Pantheon also contains the grave of artist Raphael. I was rather disappointed by the Pantheon ‘though, which was partly due to its location in a dreary and crowded city area.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica on the Vatican hill is the centre of the Roman Catholic world. The church building was constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, offering room to 50,000 people. Usually one of the most crowded places on earth is the St. Peter’s square in front of the basilica. Since 1870, the Vatican uses this location for Papal ceremonies, such as the Urbi et Orbi message at Easter. By the way, did you know that the word Urbi in the term (meaning "for the city and for the world") refers to Rome? Urbi et Orbi signifies that a papal document is addressed not only to the city of Rome but to the entire Catholic world.
  • Built between 1475 and 1483, the Sistine Chapel originally served as Palatine Chapel. Rectangular in shape, the chapel has purposely the exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon as given in the Old Testament. Celebrated Renaissance artists as Piero di Cosimo, Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio executed the wall paintings. Michelangelo repainted the ceiling, completing his massive work between 1508 and 1512. The centre of the ceiling contains one of the most famous paintings of all time, The Creation of Adam. He painted the Last Judgement over the altar between 1535 and 1541. The Sistine Chapel now is part of the Vatican Museum.
  • Circus Maximus has been called the largest spectator venue ever. The huge stadium allegedly held 250,000 people, although the remains suggest that there may have only been 150,000 seats there. Presumably a large number stood, and a greater number sat on the hills surrounding the circus. Remains of the seating can still be seen, with the Palatine hill in the background.
  • Other major tourist attractions include the baroque Trevi Fountain, the rococo Spanish Steps near the Piazza di Spagna, and Villa Borghese.


All roads lead to Rome

Rome is situated in a region called Lazio, in the west of Central Italy. Eastwards lies the Apennine mountain range, while twenty kilometres west of the city centre you’ll encounter the Mediterranean Sea. Rome is capital of the Republic of Italy and also of the province called Rome. The city is built at the eastside of the river Tiber, on the seven hills of Rome (Aventino, Capitolino or Campidoglio, Celio, Esquilino, Palatino, Quirinale and Viminale), all between 45 and 65 metres high. West of the Tiber rests the Vatican.

The huge city is built around the historic centre (Centro Storico). All main monuments are west of the Central Station (Stazione Termini).


When in Rome, do as the Romans do
  • Befana on January 6 is an alternative to Santa Claus, or as we know in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas. The good witch Befana gives away presents to the children of Rome on this day. Centre of the festivities is Piazza Navona.
  • On April 21, the birthday of Rome is celebrated. Each year the Romans rejoice the fact that Remus and Romulus allegedly founded Rome in 753 BC. The Romans place candles on the Aventine hill, with fireworks at the Tiber.
  • The city locale Trastevere parties for a week in July when it’s the Noantri Festival. A statue of Lady Madonna is the centre of the festivities. Once upon a time found in the nets of fishermen, now the Vergine del Carmine is paraded through the streets, accompanied by food and drinks, street theatre and fireworks.
  • In September Rome celebrates its International Theatre Festival. For four days, the city is one bigger-than-life theatre piece with acting societies performing all over Rome.
  • A true Roman Catholic Christmas is probably best practised at St. Peter’s Basilica. Reservations at the Vatican Tourist Office are an absolute necessity of course.

The Flag of Rome

The Flag of Rome has its own specific historical meaning. The ancient Roman emblem, the flag of Rome (with the letters SPQR) was called the "fascii". From that Benito Mussolini took the name of his plan for political power, fascism.

The current flag of Rome was adopted in 1860 and is dark red and yellow (tending to gold) in vertical halves, as is embodied in the kit of the city’s key football club AS Roma. The ancient flag was also red by the way, with the letters SPQR in yellow. The emblem resembles this, but contains a gold crown above it.

Many factors led to the creation and success of Rome.

One of these factors was Rome's prime geographical location. Rome was positioned in the center of the Italian peninsula, which was in turn in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. This location allowed Rome to influence major trading routes across the Mediterranean from the East and South and allowed Rome a lot of room to expand without going too far from home.

Rome's success was based on its military might. In its early years, Rome gained dominance over the other cities in Italy and soon had prominence over much of the peninsula. After a period of wars with its main rival Carthage, Rome became the dominant force in the Mediterranean and soon expanded throughout Western Europe and Central Europe, north Africa, and west Asia.

During this time Rome transformed its government from a republic consisting of wealthy senators to an empire with an all-powerful emperor. The Roman Empire was very successful due to its provisions to the common citizens and its unconquerable army, which had no hesitation to destroy any cities showing signs of rebellion.

The Romans believed in duty and loyalty to the family and state, and honored those who put the good of others ahead of the good of himself.

Rome has an enduring legacy because of the many influences it has had in shaping western thought and modern art, science, communications and engineering.


Burn, burn it all down
To a blasted heath
Ash covered ground

Waste, no more of your time
Fettering away
Nickel and dimed

Grand, the scale of the lie
There's nothing more
But to die

As mountains become hills
Grass into dust
Oceans barren
City's rust

A decrepit mill
On land overtilled
A tribe of men
A dead blue heron

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.