Italy’s capital Rome lies by the river Tiber in the region of Lazio, some 30 km east of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city itself has 2.7 million inhabitants but when including the metropolitan area this figure reaches almost 5 million (2009).
Rome is Italy’s administrative, cultural and religious centre, and the city sourrounds the Vatican; the world’s smallest independent state with regards to both area and population. The Vatican City is governed by the Pope and is the spiritual and administrative centre of the Roman Catholic Church.
The city lies in a hilly terrain and ”Rome’s seven hills” consists of the heights, Capitoline, Palatine, Monte Celio, Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilin and Aventine.
The city’s major street is called Via del Corso, stretching from Piazza del Popolo by the city walls in the north to Piazza Venezia. In the promenade Via Veneto (officially: Via Vittorio Veneto) there are mostly outdoor restaurants and luxury hotels.
Rome is often called the ”Eternal City”and is known to be one of the most beautiful in Europe, and is famous the world over for its rich architectural and art historical heritage, its museums, lovely parks and gardens, statues and gorgeous buildings.
Rome has a pleasant Mediterranean climate with mild, damp winters and sunny, dry summers. June, July and August are the hottest in this capital, when the temperatures are between + 22 og +25 degrees Celsius, however, in August the temperature may well rise to above +30 degrees. The coldest month is January and the temperatures in wintertime are generally between +3 degrees and + 12 degrees Celcius.
According to tradition Rome was founded in 753 BC by the twins Romulus and Remus. The city became a centre for the Roman Empire and famous buildings like the Pantheom, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum are from this period. During the middle ages the city suffered a decline but got a boost in more modern times, particularly after Rome became Italy’s capital in 1871.
Rome has a relatively small downtown core and one can easily get around the city by foot between all the historic sights. The capital has a well developed public transport system with busses, underground and trams. These days Rome is also an important railway hub for Italy. It is perfectly safe riding taxis in Rome and there are also many places in the city where one can rent bicycles and mopeds.
Rome’s international main airport is Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino), located 35 km west of downtown. The slightly smaller Ciampino (officially; Aeroporto internazionale Giovan Battista Pastine) lies 15 km south of the city and is mostly used for charter traffic.