Known as 'the Eternal City' Rome, capital of
is one of the most varied and historic cities in Europe. Its history dates back to the
beginning of the first millenium BC, wrapped in the legend of its mythical founders, Romulus and Remus. Supposedly the two abandoned brothers had
been brought up by a she-wolf on the banks of the river Tiber and Romulus grew up to found the city named after him on the Palatine hill in 754BC.
Whatever the true story may be, a flourishing city did develop at a strategic crossing place fo the Tiber and Rome now has an enormous number of archaeological remains from the classical and renaissance periods. Temples, churches, tombs, palaces,
aqueducts and arenas galore - too many to encompass within a short visit. Plan to see a limited but choice selection so that you have time to relax
and enjoy some fabulous Italian food and wine in a Trastavere restaurant or sun-drenched pavement cafe.
Rome is three cities rather than one: the ancient city of the Forum and Capitol; the Papal Rome of St John Lateran, the Vatican and St Peters;
and the modern city of the Via Veneto and the Corso.
Ancient Rome is all around you in the sprawling ruins of the ancient Forum, the city's religious, mercantile and political heart in
pagan times. This is where the Roman senate sat and Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC. Here victorious generals returned to celebrate the conquest of
another city or region, bringing enslaved barbarians and plunder.
The city's most famous, indeed iconic classical monument is the Colosseum (properly the Flavian amphitheatre) where gladiators fought eachother to the death and Christians
faced wild animals. This massive arena was used to stage hugely expensive games and fights to entertain the city's inhabitants and impress them with
the wealth and prestige of the Empire's rulers. On occasions it was even flooded for mock naval battles.
From the centuries when Rome was controlled by the Popes, St Peter's Basilica is the most important church in Western Europe. Built
largely from stone and marble quarried from the buildings of the ancient city it is a truly impressive edifice attached to the Vatican, an independent
state within the city.