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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rome

Rome



Rome is a city and special comune ("Roma Capitale") in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and the capital of Lazio. With 2.8 million residents in 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi), it is also the country's largest and most populated comune and fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. Between 3.2 and 3.8 million people live in the Rome urban and metropolitan area.The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy. Rome is referred to as "The Eternal City," a notion expressed by ancient Roman poets and writers. 

Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its founding in 753 BC, when it was built over the remains of an even older Late Neolithic village. It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD and the city is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. Since the 1st century AD Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.

After the Middle Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence. The current version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

The Sistine Chapel
In 2007, Rome was the 11th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. The city is one of Europe's and the world's most successful city "brands", both in terms of reputation and assets. 

Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are amongst the world's 50 most visited tourist destinations (the Vatican Museums receiving 4.2 million tourists and the Colosseum receiving 4 million tourists every year).

There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from at least 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to at least 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations supports the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC (the date of the tradition), the date is subject to controversy. However, the power of the well known tale of Rome's legendary foundation tends to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins. 

The original settlement developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom (ruled by a succession of seven kings, according to tradition), and then the Roman Republic (from 510 BC, governed by the Senate), and finally the Roman Empire (from 27 BC, ruled by an Emperor). This success depended on military conquest, commercial predominance, as well as selective assimilation of neighbouring civilizations, most notably the Italics, Etruscans and Greeks. From its foundation Rome, although losing occasional battles, had been undefeated in war until 386 BC, when it was briefly occupied by the Gauls. According to the legend, the Gauls offered to deliver Rome back to its people for a thousand pounds of gold, but the Romans refused, preferring to take back their city by force of arms rather than ever admitting defeat, after which the Romans recovered the city in the same year. 

Colloseum
The Roman Empire had begun more formally when Emperor Augustus (63 BC–AD 14; known as Octavian before his throne accession) founded the Principate in 27 BC. This was a monarchy system which was headed by an emperor holding power for life, rather than making himself dictator like Julius Caesar had done, which had resulted in his assassination on 15 March, 44 BC. At home, Emperor Augustus started off a great programme of social, political and economic reform and grand-scale reconstruction of the city of Rome. The city became dotted with impressive and magnificent new buildings, palaces, fora and basilicae. Augustus became a great and enlightened patron of the arts, and his court was attended by such poets as Virgil, Horace and Propertius. His rule also established the Pax Romana, a long period of relative peace which lasted approximately 200 years. Following his rule were emperors such as Caligula, Nero, Trajan, and Hadrian, to name a few. Roman emperor Nero was well known for his extravagance, cruelty, tyranny, and the myth that he was the emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned" during the night of 18 to 19 July 64 AD. The Antonine Plague of 165–180 is believed to have killed as much as one-third of the population.

Roman dominance expanded over most of Western Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean, though its influence through client states and the sheer power of its presence was wider than its formal borders. Its population surpassed one million inhabitants. For almost seven hundred years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world. After the Empire started to decline and was split, it lost its capital status to Milan and then to Ravenna, and was surpassed in prestige by the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople, whose Greek inhabitants continued through the centuries to call themselves Roman.

The Bishop of Rome, called the Pope, was important since the early days of Christianity because of the martyrdom of both the apostles Peter and Paul there. The Bishops of Rome were also seen (and still are seen) as the successors of Peter, him being the first Bishop of Rome. The city thus became of increasing importance in the Catholic Church. After the Sack of Rome in 410 AD by Alaric I and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Rome alternated between Byzantine and Germanic control. Its population declined from more than a million in 210 AD to a mere 35,000 during the Early Middle Ages, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins, vegetation, vineyards and market gardens. Rome remained nominally part of the Byzantine Empire until 751 AD, when the Lombards finally extinguished the Exarchate of Ravenna which was the last holdout of the Byzantines in northern Italy. In 756, Pepin the Short gave the Pope temporal jurisdiction over Rome and surrounding areas, thus creating the Papal States. In 846, Muslim Arabs stormed the city and managed to loot St. Peter's and St. Paul's basilica, both outside the city wall. 

Rome remained the capital of the Papal States until its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870; the city became a major pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages and the focus of struggles between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire starting with Charlemagne, who was crowned its first emperor in Rome in 800 by Pope Leo III. Apart from brief periods as an independent city during the Middle Ages, Rome kept its status as Papal capital and "holy city" for centuries, even when the Papacy briefly relocated to Avignon (1309–1377).

The rule of the Popes was interrupted by the short-lived Roman Republic (1798), which was built under the influence of the French Revolution. During Napoleon's reign, Rome was annexed into the French Empire. After the fall of Napoleon, the Church State under the pope was reinstated through the Congress of Vienna of 1814. In 1849, another Roman Republic arose within the framework of revolutions of 1848. Two of the most influential figures of the Italian unification, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, fought for the short-lived republic.

Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the rest of Italy was reunited under the Kingdom of Italy with a temporary capital at Florence. In 1861, Rome was declared the capital of Italy even though it was still under the control of the Pope. During the 1860s, the last vestiges of the Papal States were under French protection, thanks to the foreign policy of Napoleon III. And it was only when this was lifted in 1870, owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, that Italian troops were able to capture Rome entering the city through a breach near Porta Pia. Afterwards, Pope Pius IX declared himself as prisoner in the Vatican, and in 1871 the capital of Italy was moved from Florence to Rome.


The Pantheon
Soon after World War I, Rome witnessed the rise to power of Italian Fascism guided by Benito Mussolini, who marched on the city in 1922, eventually declaring a new Empire and allying Italy with Nazi Germany. The interwar period saw a rapid growth in the city's population, that surpassed 1,000,000 inhabitants. In World War II, due to its status of an open city, Rome largely escaped the tragic destiny of other European cities, but was occupied by the Germans from the Italian Armistice until its liberation on 4 June 1944. However, on 19 June 1943 Rome was bombed by Anglo-American forces, being one of the hardest hit areas in the San Lorenzo district, resulting in about 3,000 deaths and 11,000 wounded.

Rome grew momentously after the war, as one of the driving forces behind the "Italian economic miracle" of post-war reconstruction and modernisation. It became a fashionable city in the 1950s and early 1960s, the years of "la dolce vita" ("the sweet life"), with popular classic fims such as Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita being filmed in the city's iconic Cinecitt√† Studios. A new rising trend in population continued until the mid-1980s, when the comune had more than 2,800,000 residents; after that, population started to decline slowly as more residents moved to nearby suburbs.


Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to the incalculable immensity of its archaeological and artistic treasures, as well as for the charm of its unique traditions, the beauty of its panoramic views, and the majesty of its magnificent "villas" (parks). Among the most significant resources are the many museums – (Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, including those dedicated to modern and contemporary art and great many others) – aqueducts, fountains, churches, palaces, historical buildings, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum, and the Catacombs. Rome is the 3rd most visited city in the EU, after London and Paris, and receives an average of 7–10 million tourists a year, which sometimes doubles on holy years.

Rome contains a vast and impressive collection of art, sculpture, fountains, mosaics, frescos, and paintings, from all different periods. Rome first became a major artistic centre during ancient Rome, with forms of important Roman art such as architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work. Metal-work, coin die and gem engraving, ivory carvings, figurine glass, pottery, and book illustrations are considered to be 'minor' forms of Roman artwork. Rome later became a major centre of Renaissance art, since the popes spent vast sums of money for the constructions of grandiose basilicas, palaces, piazzas and public buildings in general. The city was affected greatly by the baroque, and Rome became the home of numerous artists and architects, such as Bernini, Caravaggio, Carracci, Borromini and Cortona, to name a few. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the city was one of the centres of the Grand Tour, when wealthy, young English and other European aristocrats visited the city to learn about ancient Roman culture, art, philosophy and architecture. Rome hosted a great number of neoclassical and rococo artists, such as Pannini and Bernardo Bellotto. Today, the city is a major artistic centre, with numerous art institutes and museums.

Rome's cuisine has evolved through centuries and periods of social, cultural, and political changes. Rome became a major gastronomical centre during the ancient Age. Ancient Roman cuisine was highly influenced by Ancient Greek culture, and after, the empire's enormous expansion exposed Romans to many new, provincial culinary habits and cooking techniques. Later, during the Renaissance, Rome became well known as a centre of high-cuisine, since some of the best chefs of the time, worked for the popes. An example of this could be Bartolomeo Scappi, who was a chef, working for Pius IV in the Vatican kitchen, and he acquired fame in 1570 when his cookbook Opera dell'arte del cucinare was published. In the book he lists approximately 1000 recipes of the Renaissance cuisine and describes cooking techniques and tools, giving the first known picture of a fork.

In the modern age, the city developed its own peculiar cuisine, based on products of the nearby Campagna, as lamb and vegetables (globe artichokes are common). In parallel, roman Jews -present in the city since the 1st century BC- developed their own cuisine, thecucina giudaico-romanesca. Examples of roman dishes include "Saltimbocca alla Romana" – a veal cutlet, Roman-style; topped with raw ham and sage and simmered with white wine and butter; "Carciofi alla giudia" – artichokes fried in olive oil, typical of Roman Jewish cooking; "Carciofi alla romana" – artichokes Roman-style; outer leaves removed, stuffed with mint, garlic, breadcrumbs and braised; "Spaghetti alla carbonara" – spaghetti with bacon, eggs and pecorino, and "Gnocchi di semolino alla romana" – semolina dumpling, Roman-style, to name but a few. 




                                                        Rome’s Top 5:
       
  1. The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican  commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City. Designed principally by Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Bernini, St Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". In Roman Catholic tradition, the basilica is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, was the first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.
  2. The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.
    Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96). The name "Amphitheatrum Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia). Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine. Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
  3. The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district. Standing 26 metres (85.3 feet) high and 20 metres (65.6 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revived Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. In 19 BC, supposedly with the help of a virgin, Roman technicians located a source of pure water some 13 km (8.1 mi) from the city.  The Roman custom of building a handsome fountain at the endpoint of an aqueduct that brought water to Rome was revived in the 15th century, with the Renaissance. In 1453, Pope Nicholas V finished mending the Acqua Vergine aqueduct and built a simple basin, designed by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti, to herald the water's arrival.  In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but when the Pope died, the project was abandoned. Though Bernini's project was never constructed, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it exists today.  Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains, and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest to construct a new fountain in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway. Work began in 1732, and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Clement's death, when Pietro Bracci's Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche. Salvi died in 1751, with his work half-finished, but before he went he made sure a stubborn barber's unsightly sign would not spoil the ensemble, hiding it behind a sculpted vase, called by Romans the asso di coppe, the "Ace of Cups". The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and "Trivia", the Roman virgin.
  4. The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered, concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft). It is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria della Rotonda." The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda.
  5. Sistine Chapel  is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 1,100 m2(12,000 sq ft) of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling, and especially The Last Judgment (1535–1541), is widely believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement in painting. The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the old Cappella Magna between 1477 and 1480. During this period a team of painters that included Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio created a series of frescoed panels depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below. These paintings were completed in 1482, and on 15 August 1483, Sixtus IV celebrated the first mass in the Sistine Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption, at which ceremony the chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Since the time of Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected.



    Trevi Fountain







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