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Basic information

  • Area: 1,285.31 km² (496.3 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +3906
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • Population (EST): 2,743,796
  • Official language: Italian
  • Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)

Rome – Overview

Rome famed worldwide as the "Eternal City" and the heart of the once mighty Roman Empire. The city has, probably more world famous monuments and locations than almost any other city on the globe.

Since its most ancient times, Rome has been characterised by the presence of vast green areas. Following the penetration of the Greek culture in the 2nd century B.C., it became the vogue for rich and noble Romans to attach their names to sumptuous gardens, called Horti. These fell into decline with the crisis of the Roman Empire, and only a thousand years later, during the fervour of the Renaissance, did they become one of the most concrete symbols of the return to classicism. Between the 16th and 18th century’s popes, cardinals and aristocrats vied with each other to achieve the richest and most beautiful villas in Rome.

Unfortunately, during the 19th century many of these villas were destroyed or altered to make way for the new quarters of Rome the Capital. Nevertheless, today the city is still able to offer numerous hectares of land used as public parks and gardens, where it is possible to take pleasant walks, immersed in nature and history.

Undoubtedly there is no city in the world that has more waters and fountains than Rome. It has been thus since ancient times, when 11 aqueducts supplied thousands and thousands of litres of water to the city each day, feeding the countless fountains and magnificent baths.

The sacking of the Goths, resulting in the cutting of the aqueducts, ended this richness, and only at the end of the 16th century did the popes tackle the water supply problem adequately. Since then Rome was adorned with dozens of monumental fountains celebrating the pontiffs' munificence, often flanked by drinking troughs and public basins for practical uses. And today still, while we admire these masterpieces, we refresh ourselves by drinking the excellent water running from the typical drinking-water fountains affectionately called "nasoni" - big noses - because of the curious shape of the curved spout.

The River Tiber has always been a characteristic element of the Roman landscape. Up until the construction of the embankments, in the late 19th century, it was completely navigable and characterised by an unending sequence of buildings that faced onto and were reflected in the water.

The river was used for fishing and bathing; the water was used to drink and for motive power. Today, from late spring through early autumn, an atmospheric river navigation service between the Ponte del Foro Italico and Ponte Umberto I (tel. 064463481) is offered. On the other hand, for bicycle lovers there is a bike lane between Ponte Flaminio and Ponte Risorgimento.

Rome is a shopper’s paradise with all of the big names having a presence in the city, such names as Prada and Giorgio Armani in via Condotti. High street shops can be found in many locations. For quality second hand clothing via Sannio market is an interesting place to look and for fresh food and produce, the markets at Campo de’ Fiori or the piazza dell’Unit are a mouth watering location.