An aerial view of central Rome.
Rome (; Italian: Roma listen (help·info), pronounced [ˈroːma]; Latin: Rōma) is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated municipality (central area), with over 2.7 million residents in 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi), while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 3.46 million. The metropolitan area of Rome is estimated by OECD to have a population of 3.7 million. It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river within the Lazio region of Italy. The city has been one of history's most powerful and important centres, being the home of the emperor during the Roman Empire and the Italian government. The city also has a significant place in Christianity and is the present day home of the Roman Catholic Church and the site of the Vatican City, an independent city-state run by the Catholic Church. Due to this, the city has often been nicknamed "Caput Mundi" (Latin for "Capital of the World") and "The Eternal City". Also, Rome is widely regarded as one of the world's most beautiful ancient cities.
Rome's history as a city spans over two and a half thousand years, as one of the founding and most powerful cities of Western Civilisation. It was the centre of the Roman Empire, which dominated Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for over four hundred years from the 1st Century BC until the 4th Century AD, and during the Ancient Roman era, the city was the most powerful in Europe. During the Middle-Ages, Rome was home to some of the most powerful popes, such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into a modern centre of the arts and one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence. The current-day version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel's ceiling was painted by artist Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its impressive Renaissance and Baroque architecture. As a modern city, it has been capital of the unified Italy since 1870, and grew mainly in two periods either side of World War II. As it is one of the few major European cities that escaped the war relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character. Rome has had an immense historic influence to the world and modern society over the ages, particularly during ancient times, mainly in subjects such as architecture, art, culture, politics, literature, law, philosophy and religion.
Modern Rome is a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis, and is Italy's capital of politics, economy, and media. Rome is a city rich in history, art and culture, and the vastity of its priceless monuments and treasures lead it to have many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its modern and ancient global influence in politics, literature, culture, music, religion, education, fashion, cinema and cuisine lead it to being an Alpha- world city, according to Loughborough University and GaWC in 2008, and, is the only Alpha global city in Italy, except Milan. The city is home to the Cinecittà Studios, which are the largest film and television production facilities in continental Europe, and famous classic films, such as "La Dolce Vita" and "Ben Hur" have been filmed in the city. Currently, and since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the metropolis serves as one of Europe's major political centres, with worldwide organizations such as FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFT), and the NATO Defence College being headquartered in the city. Rome is also Italy's capital of business and finance, along with Milan. The Rome metropolitan area has a GDP of €109 billion, and according to a 2008 study, the city is the world's 35th richest city by purchasing power, with a GDP of €94.376 billion ($121.5 billion), and is the world's 18th most expensive city (in 2009). Italian mega-companies, such as Eni, Enel, Telecom Italia, Agip and Alitalia, are headquartered in the city. Were Rome a country, it would be the world's 52nd biggest economy, and would have a GDP near the size of that of Egypt. The city, also had, in 2003, Italy's 2nd highest GDP per capita (after Milan), that of €29,622 (US 37,412), which is 134.1% of the EU GDP per capita average.
The city hosted the 1960 Olympic Games, with great success, and is also an official candidate for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union, and 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).
The Venerable Pope Pius XII (Latin: Pius PP. XII; Italian: Pio XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (2 March 1876 – 9 October 1958), reigned as the 260th Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958.
Before election to the papacy, Pacelli served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Germany. His leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II remains the subject of continued historical controversy.
After the war, Pius XII contributed to the rebuilding of Europe, and advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies toward vanquished nations and the unification of Europe. The Church, flourishing in the West, experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in the East. In light of his protests, and his involvement in the Italian elections of 1948, he became known as a staunch opponent of communism. He signed 30 concordats and diplomatic treaties.
Pius XII explicitly invoked ex cathedra papal infallibility with the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his 1950 Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus. His magisterium includes almost 1,000 addresses and radio broadcasts. His forty-one encyclicals include Mystici Corporis, the Church as the Body of Christ; Mediator Dei on liturgy reform; Humani Generis on the Church's position on theology and evolution. He eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals in 1946. Read more...
Did you know that in AD 64 Rome was struck by a destructive fire called, the Great Fire of Rome?
According to the historian Tacitus, the fire started on the night of 18 July, among the shops clustered around the Circus Maximus. As many Romans lived in wood houses without masonry, the fire spread quickly through these areas. The fire was almost contained after five days before regaining strength. The historian Suetonius claims the fire burned for six days and seven nights in total. The fire destroyed three of fourteen Roman districts and severely damaged seven, while leaving only four undamaged. Also destroyed were Nero's palace, the Temple of Jupiter Stator and the hearth in the Temple of Vesta.