According to the myth, ancient Rome was founded by two demigod brothers, Romulus and Remus, in 753 BCE, on the 21st of April.
According to the legend, in an argument about who should be the city’s ruler (or in another story, the location where the city would be situated), Romulus killed Remus. Romulus then named the city in his own honor. So, Romulus was quite the character.
With such a startling and brutal history worthy of its own Game of Thrones season, it is not surprising that folks are interested in learning more about the city.
First up, in which country is Rome located? Rome lies in the modern country of Italy.
It is fifteen miles off the coast from the Tyrrhenian Sea, about halfway up the Italian peninsula, on the River Tiber. Rome, (in Italian, ‘Roma’) is a historical city and the capital of the Roma province in the Lazio region.
Table of Contents
- Greeks and Romans are often confused with each other
- Why Rome is in Italy instead of Italy being in Rome
- Why Rome’s location made it so important
- Rome is everywhere
- Romans still exist today
- Rome was not always Italy’s capital city
- Rome is not in Romania!
- Religion has played a major role in shaping modern Rome
- The Vatican is a city in Rome
- The rise of modern Rome
- First, the French helped, although they didn’t mean to.
- Who were the four men who helped found modern Rome?
- How the Catholic Church lost rule over all of modern Rome
- The Rise of modern Rome – Benito Mussolini and the Fascists
- The Three Romes
- The first Rome
- The second Rome
- The third Rome
- Understanding modern Rome with the “Three Romes” idea
Although ancient Greece and ancient Rome are often mistaken for one another, they have many distinctions.
However, both are Mediterranean, and both had distinct social classes, many mythologies, and specific life values. In terms of social structure, both Greek and Roman societies used a system of hierarchy.
The process of unifying Italy began in 1848 and culminated in forming the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. In 1870, after the country’s unification, Rome was chosen as the capital of Italy. T
The Ancient Romans would not have thought of themselves as Italian. In the past, Romans saw themselves as being from Rome but sharing a lot of similarities with Italians while remaining distinct from them.
Before the rise of nationalists and nationalism, people were more connected to their city than their country, so it was “the Roman Empire” and not ‘the Italian Empire’.
Rome’s position on the Tiber River and the Italian peninsula gave access to the entire Mediterranean Sea and its lucrative trade routes.
Roman armies utilized these routes to conquer vast areas of territory and extend their empire across the Mediterranean world from their city. This is why trade was a major aspect of life in the early days of Rome.
Of course, we’re not talking about the actual modern city in Italy. However, there is a “Roma” on every continent except Antarctica.
- Roma, Indonesia (Asia)
- Roma, Lesotho (Africa)
- Roma, Queensland (Australia)
- Roma, Ecuador, South America
- Roma, Texas (North America)
- Roma, Italy (Europe)
Historically, the Romans were the population that came from the ancient Roman city, which is now in Italy.
Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, and the lands under the control of Rome included vast portions of Europe (including Spain, Gaul (France), and Greece), parts of the Middle East, and parts of North Africa.
For just five years, Florence was the capital city of Italy before the country moved its capital to Rome. Florence was selected as the capital because Rome was then held by the French who were protecting the Pope and his Papal State.
What was previously known as the Peninsula Italia used to refer to the lower part of what we now call Italy.
However, from way back, as long ago as 1,000 BCE, the name did not refer to the population there but only to the landmass itself.
As a capital, Rome does triple duty: the regional capital of Lazio, the provincial capital, and the Italian national capital!
Rome is not in Romania!
Romania and Rome are two different entities entirely. Romania is a sovereign nation located in southeastern Europe. Rome is an Italian city, and not just any city, but the capital city of Italy.
Despite the existence of monotheistic religions throughout the empire, like Judaism and Christianity, the Roman Empire was a predominantly polytheistic society (meaning that people worshiped and praised various gods and goddesses).
Religion has played a crucial role in the city of Rome, a fact that continues to this very day.
The Vatican is the world’s smallest autonomous country and it is home to the spiritual leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.
The entire country of the Vatican is bordered by a city, Italy’s “Eternal City” and the capital, Rome. Priests and nuns of various nationalities constitute the majority of the Vatican’s citizens.
Vatican City is an autonomous country within the city borders of Rome, and it is the only example of a nation within a city. This is why Rome is frequently referred to as the capital city of two different states.
From 1871 to the present, Italy was divided into several states. One of them was the Papal Lands, which encompassed around a third of today’s Italy and was governed by the Pope.
When Italy was unified into one country and the Pope was overthrown, he was deprived of a lot of territory and authority. But as a concession, the Papacy retained the tiny enclave in Rome, and this is the reason the Vatican is still a country.
So, how did ancient Rome become today’s modern city?
Modern Italy was created by a group known as the Risorgimento, a reference which in Italian political circles means an uprising that sought to restore the freedom and unity Italy had lost 1,500 years previously.
Also, the uprising sought to bring in the new liberalism that was growing in popularity throughout the USA, Great Britain, and France during the preceding century.
Another objective of the Risorgimento was to make Rome the capital of the new Italy, a knowing, wily, and none-too-subtle attack on the Roman Catholic Church.
When Rome was an empire, the city propagated cultures originating from elsewhere. After conquering Greece, Rome was happy to spread Greek philosophy, architecture, literature, and art throughout the huge expanse of her empire.
But after many Romans converted to Christianity, the Roman emperors were determined to convert the whole of the Roman Empire into Christianity.
As the empire sank away into oblivion, France became responsible for spreading new ideas and new ways of thinking, and these struck Rome particularly hard in the late 19th century.
These ideas were formulated during the French Enlightenment and implemented by those who participated in Napoleon’s armies.
Napoleon attacked and took vast areas of the Italian north, even seizing Rome. He crowned himself the King of Italy and likewise crowned his newborn son King of Rome.
Napoleon’s rule was not long-lasting, however, but it encouraged many Italians to believe that it was the time to unify the country.
Who were the four men who helped found modern Rome?
If Romulus and Remus founded ancient Rome, there were the Four Fathers of modern Italy. However, only one of them was king, and his name was King Victor Emmanuel II.
- Victor Emmanuel II: the King who was the first to rule United Italy
- Giuseppe Garibaldi: the General
- Camillo Benso: Count of Cavour the Diplomat
- Giuseppe Mazzini: the Revolutionary in Exile
The thing they had most in common, in addition to their determination to ensure independence for Italy, was their ferocity in differences with one another.
Each one is commemorated in Rome by a monument or the names of piazzas or streets. They also enjoy the same honor in other Italian cities, so travelers frequently hear their names.
One of the obstacles that hindered the union of Italy was the dominance of central Italy’s Catholic Church. Its Papal States stretched across the peninsula, from Tuscany and Ferrara and down to Gaeta with Rome as the capital.
The Church ruled over this region intermittently for more than a thousand years. The issue was further complicated by a stark disagreement on concerns regarding the basis of authority in the political realm and its applied objectives.
Does the authority to rule stem from God or from the consent of the oppressed? Should the government enforce obligations to God and the rights of citizens?
What is the importance of liberty and the participation of the populace in the political process?
It is common to imagine Italy as an overwhelmingly Catholic country; however, anti-clericalism was a major characteristic that was a part of Risorgimento.
Therefore, the Risorgimento and the Church were at odds regarding territory and doctrine. The result was an intense battle.
Mussolini also altered the appearance of Rome. One approach to accomplish this was to construct boulevards for ceremonies that would be more famous than Rome’s most iconic monuments.
The first of two impressive examples of this is the main road that connects St. Peter’s to the Via della Conciliazione. Another is the one that connects the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia and is described as “The Street of the Empire.”
More significant, of course, is the devastation Mussolini caused to Italy through his participation in World War II.
As the Allies fought through the long, narrow, and high Italian peninsula, the collateral damage was extensive and entire cities fell.
The significance of the three Romes is an intriguing concept, but it’s also completely unfamiliar to most non-Italians. That said, once the concept is understood, it enhances visitors’ experience of Rome.
To understand the notion of the three Romes, it is necessary to grasp the all-important concept of the sequence of occupancy. A distinct layering of the different groups that have occupied this space
450–500 AD: This is the Imperial Rome of the classic Greek period and Ancient Rome.
As old Rome ran out of motive, force, and energy, the inhabitants of Rome began to realize that the Roman Empire had declined and thus began a push into the Middle Ages.
From then on, Rome was forced to survive without the wealth generated by foreigners.
This was unlike before when the Romans used to generate their own wealth by forcefully plundering it from others or turning entire peoples into slaves.
1450–1799s: The era of the Church and the time of “the 45 popes.” These popes were responsible for the reconstruction of Rome in its second epoch.
This second Rome is the Renaissance Rome of Copernicus, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
It is also Baroque Rome, with its amazing architecture like the Basilica of St. Peter by Bernini. The popes brought together lots of innovative ideas that assisted them in reviving Rome.
1871–present: Florence was once the capital of the new Italian state. However, a change of plans took place and Rome was declared the capital of the country of Italy.
This is modern Rome, the Rome that we see and experience if we completely forget to look at the city as three-Romes-in-one.
Once the idea of the three Romes is understood, the experience one has in Rome is immeasurably improved.
When first arriving in Rome, people feel like the city is chaotic and supremely disorganized, especially when it comes to planning.
Many architectural structures seem completely out of place with their surroundings, which can cause the inexperienced a lot of confusion.
However, once visitors realize why the Pantheon is almost hidden, being stuck smack in the middle of many hotels and restaurants, they begin to see the three Romes.
Eventually, they understand that it is a manifestation of the first Rome being enveloped and enclosed in the third Rome.
With this grand realization, we see the “Eternal Rome,” and we can come to appreciate this jewel at the heart of Italy.