20 Things to Know about Rome, Italy

Perhaps one of the most interesting ancient cities that endured the ravages of time and has continued to attract millions of visitors each and every year, Rome in Italy stands tall among its contemporary cities in terms of grandeur and its various offerings to each visitor. Here we share some trivia about what you can expect from the city especially if this is your first time to visit this beautiful city.

Every turn, every corner holds something for the wandering tourist looking for an adventure in food, in culture or in the arts. Truly, Rome lives to its billing as the Eternal City.

Related Post: Italy Do’s and Dont’s

things to know rome italy

Fun Trivia for First-Time Visitors of Rome, Italy

We visited Rome for a few days and there were already plenty of tourists around. Take note that many Filipinos, due to our Catholic religion influence, also travel to Rome to head to the Vatican (a country within the city of Rome). Rome offers travellers plenty of history and arts.

piazza navona rome italy

If this is your first time here, it’s good to learn a few things about it. Here are some fun facts and trivia about Rome:

  1. Romulus and Remus are considered as the legendary founders of the Eternal City. Legend states that they were abandoned in the general area where Rome is located. A she-wolf found the twins and nurtured them. However, Romulus killed Remus in a fight and became the sole ruler of Rome.
  2. Present day Rome has more than 900 churches and 280 fountains. You would need more than three years to visit them all and experience each one in its entirety!
  3. Do not be overwhelmed by the 98% Roman Catholic population of Rome – but it does have the highest concentration of Roman Catholics in the world.
  4. One of the most famous fountains is the Trevi Fountain where thousands of visitors congregate and toss coins to make wishes. Believe it or not more than 3,000 euros are collected on a nightly basis from the bottom of the fountain.
  5. Drop by the Palatine Hill – and be astounded by the majestic Roman Palaces in full display. The Emperor Augustus started this practice of having their palaces built on this site.
  6. The largest, unsupported concrete dome in the world is found in Rome – it is even bigger than the one in Saint Peter’s Basilica – and is in the Pantheon.
  7. Emperor Trajan established what can be described as the first shopping mall in the world – Mercati di Traiano was built between 107 AD to 110 AD and sold a variety of goods.
  8. Pasta lovers would surely love to find the museum dedicated to all forms of pasta in the city.
  9. If you thought Egypt and Japan are among the foremost cat lovers in the world, better think again as Rome even has laws that protect the felines from abuse and hundreds of cats have their way on the alleys and the tourist sites all over the city.
  10. Rome is built on seven hills – namely the Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Viminal, the Esquiline, the Caelian, the Aventine and the Palatine hills – which also gave it the name the City on Seven Hills.
  11. The popular adage, “All roads lead to Rome” refers to the Roman mile which is 4,800 feet and marked with a milestone and the road network that ancient Romans built.
  12. The Colosseum was inaugurated with the slaying of 5,000 animals to appease the gods. The Colosseum saw the death of more than 500,000 individuals and more than a million animals in public spectacles to keep the mases in line.
  13. Ancient Romans did not use soap to cleanse themselves. Instead of soap, they slathered themselves with oil and scraped it off with a special tool known as a strigil. They are also huge users of public baths and had a sewage system in place.
  14. A popular attraction, the Boca della Verita – or the Mouth of Truth – was said to chop off the hands and arms of people who spoke a lie when they were engaged in it. Monks purported the myth by placing scorpions in the mouth.
  15. Some popular Roman dishes use the fifth quarter – or the offal – intestine parts of the animal. Such delicacies include using the tripe, the brains and the intestines. Do not make the gaffe of asking for spaghetti and meatballs or pizza in one of the local diners.
  16. The Castello di San Angelo (Castel Saint Angelo) does have the Passetto di Borgo – the escape route popularized in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons novel. It was really used as an escape route by popes when the Vatican was under siege.
  17. Peter’s Basilica is now the second biggest cathedral in the world as it has been surpassed by Cote d’Ivoire’s Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.
  18. The Spanish Steps were named so because the Spanish Embassy was at its base. But it is of French design and funded by a Frenchman and constructed by Italians.
  19. Take a tour of the Roman Underground and be closer to history than you can possibly be – as most of the underground is yet to be excavated and mapped. Try it if you are not claustrophobic.
  20. Roman aqueducts are a bit high – 55 feet at least – as it deterred poisoners from unleashing poison on the population. It also made it difficult for thieves to steal water.

Surely, a day’s visit to Rome would not be enough to uncover its many facets and secrets. In fact, even some long-time residents still haven’t fully discovered everything about the Eternal City – in fact, most of ancient Rome is still 90% buried – which still holds a whole lot more discoveries to uncover. And so, the Eternal City continues to hold us all in her grasp and continues to enchant us with her mystery.

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