You’re familiar with Rome, you’ve seen the Colosseum, (you’re a big fan of the pizza), but how well do you really know Italy’s capital? You may have experienced some of what Rome has to offer, but here are 10 things you might not know about the “Eternal City”.
1. Make a wish
The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most iconic and highly visited sights. The tradition is to throw a coin with the right hand over the left shoulder. The custom is so popular in fact, that 3,000 euros are collected from the fountain every day. All the money is donated to Caritas, a charity that helps poor families in Rome. So throw a coin in and make your wish come true!
2. Pasta is a way of life
Romans love pasta so much that they have a whole museum dedicated to it. The museum is owned by the Agnesi family, the founders of Agnesi, a pasta producer founded in 1824. If you would rather eat pasta than learn about its history, you can grab a glass of prosecco and join a pasta-making class (which always becomes a pasta eating class).
3. Built to last
The Colosseum is such a prominent fixture on the Roman landscape that it’s easy to take it for granted. This theater has stood on the same site for over 2,000 years and remains structurally sound. The Colosseum was built with 80 entrances and could hold up to 80,000 spectators. By comparison, London’s Wembley stadium can hold 90,000 people. Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Romans and put a guided tour of this architectural wonder on your bucket list. The classics are classic for a reason.
4. What makes the Spanish steps… Spanish?
The name of the Spanish Steps is a little misleading. Built between 1723 and 1725, they were only named such because the Spanish embassy was at their base. The French actually had more to do with their creation, being funded by a donation from a French diplomat, Etienne Gueffier. For some reason, the “French steps” never caught on. When planning your trip to Rome, we’d recommend experiencing the Spanish Steps, and a number of other celebrated Roman monuments, over the course of an afternoon on a bike tour.
5. The city of 1000 churches (almost)
Home to the Pope, many Catholics see Rome as the religious center of the world. St. Peter’s Basilica receives over 6 million visitors every year. But did you know that Rome has over 900 churches? It would take a long time to see all of them, so best start with the most famous. Take a tour and find out about St. Peter’s hidden treasures from an expert guide on your next trip.
6. The city contains a country
Technically, the Pope does not live in Rome. The Pope’s address is in Vatican City, which is considered an independent country, sharing a 3.2 km (2 miles) border with the rest of Italy. Vatican City even has its own postage stamps and issues its own passports. Packed full of treasures, a tour of the Vatican museum’s extensive collection is a must for art and history lovers alike.
7. Quench your thirst
When visiting Rome there’s no need to buy water. You can refill your bottle at one of the city’s many fountains! The city has 280 fountains and many of them have a drinkable water supply. Take a walking tour of Rome’s squares and fountains and find out more about the intriguing history of the Eternal City on your next trip.
8. Heaven for coffee lovers
Romans love coffee and the cappuccino is a firm favorite. But there’s one rule — no cappuccino after 11 AM or after meals. Tradition dictates that espresso is the only option after dinner. One thing Romans might love more than caffeine is gelato. Sound delicious? Add this tasting tour to your plans which combines two of Italy’s favorites: coffee and ice cream.
9. The Eternal City
The “Eternal City” is not a name invented by the Italian tourist board. Such was the power of Rome that ancient Romans thought the city would last forever. Scholars believe that the poet Tibullus made the first direct reference to the “Eternal City” in the 1st century BC. Though only time will tell if the city is “eternal”, it hasn’t always been the capital of Italy. That title belonged to Florence until 1870. Florence was an important economic and cultural center, but no Italian city can quite match the might of Rome.
10. An inventive people
The Ancient Romans are famous for their many inventions, including modern plumbing. But did you know that they also invented concrete? This is the reason that so many of their buildings have maintained their structural integrity. The Pantheon has been in continuous use for over 2,000 years and the basic structure has remained unchanged. The dome is still the world’s largest reinforced concrete dome. We recommend adding this guided tour to your future itinerary to learn more about this monument and the glory of Rome.