Rome is a “one-of-a-kind” city: it’s chaotic, it’s fascinating, and it’s damn culturally rich!
Also nicknamed the “Eternal City”, or “Caput Mundi” (in English: “capital of the world”), Rome is a city that lived through three millenniums (ever heard the saying: “Rome was not built in one day?”) 😉
Its long history and the several ages the city went through reflect in the buildings, in the monuments, and in the everyday life of its citizens. Speaking about Rome, we really could write a full library, and we would never really finish: it’s just so culturally rich!
In this post, we will dig into the things almost nobody knows, and I will reveal to you 15 interesting and curious facts about Rome you probably never heard before 😉
I am confident that once you’ll have read 15 interesting curiosities you will see Rome with different eyes and you will experience your journey through the city with a new awareness.
Let’s dive right in! 😀
“A fool is one who admires other cities
without visiting Rome.”
– Francesco Petrarca – Italian Poet-
15 Interesting Facts about Rome!
1. Everyday in Rome they still shoot a Midday Cannon. It was introduced to give everyone the exact time of the day!
Since 1848, years before the foundation of Italy, there has been in Rome an old cannon (called “Cannone del Gianicolo”) that shoots every day at midday o’clock.
This antiquated tradition was first introduced by Pope Pio XI as a way to communicate to all of the city of Rome the exact time: in this way, everyone could have the clocks synchronized.
Although with modern watches the cannon is no longer required, the tradition has been kept alive by the citizens of Rome and today it’s one of the several excellent attractions you could witness in Rome.
Watching the show is entirely free, you just need to be there on time! ;D
2. The Colosseum of Rome has an incredibly Brutal and Gory History!
The Colosseum is the largest Roman anteater in the world, and for hundreds of years has been used to entertain Roman emperors and the wealthy people of Rome.
Entertainment back in the days (between years 74 – 476 A.C.), was not a friendly football match as it might be today: in the Colosseum the everyday shows were battles to death between gladiators, foreign captured slaves, fiery beasts, and sometimes even emperors!
In all of its history, it is believed by historians that the Colosseum saw the death of over 400.000 people and over 1.000.000 animals within its ring: a truly dreadful theater if you ask me! D:
Imagine that the floor of the Colosseum could even be removed and flooded to perform naval battles (which did not come out as popular as regular fighting and were scrapped over the years).
All in all, the passion of ancient Romans for gory battles and strength demonstrations was truly remarkable! After the empire’s fall, the Colosseum has never been used as an arena anymore, the blood stains are long gone, and it’s today just another colossal monument to visit, which holds a secret history buried by the centuries.
If you would like to see it with your own eyes, I suggest you to check out this guide about how to buy Colosseum tickets to get your tickets in advance and don’t miss out this opportunity 🙂
3. The Mascotte of Rome is a She-Wolf that, according to the legend, Grew the Two Founders of the City
The symbol of Rome is a She-Wolf.
According to the legend, the god of war Mars fell in love with a human girl named Rea Silva, abducted her, and gave her two sons: Romolo and Remo.
The sovereign of the country at that time, Amulio, sent two soldiers to kill the two sons because he was scared they could take its throne once they had grown up.
When they found the two babies, the soldiers couldn’t bring themselves to kill them and left them in a straw basket close to the banks of the river Tevere.
There, the crying of the babies attracted a she-wolf that instead of attacking the children, grew them as her kindred.
When the two babies grew up, they founded the city of Rome together, just before fighting to the death to decide who would rule over it (yes… Romans liked it that way!). ;D
4. The Signature Dish from Rome is the Pasta Carbonara, which does NOT contain cream!
The Carbonara is one of the most famous signature dishes from Italy and it originates from…yes, you guessed it: Rome! ;D
What many people don’t know about this dish though, and which leaves many foreigners stupified, is that the original Carbonara recipe does not contain any cooking cream! (for Italians, making Carbonara with cream is close to the crime of breaking spaghetti before cooking them!).
The traditional recipe for Carbonara is pretty easy: pasta, eggs, cheek lard, pecorino cheese, and black pepper :)
The “cream” that you see and that tastes so damn good when you eat it, it’s nothing less than the slowly melted lard, mixed with the egg yolk and the grated pecorino cheese 🙂
Personal tip: If you want to make friends in Rome, don’t ask for Carbonara with Cream ahah ;D
If you would like to know more about the food culture of Rome and dive into the beauty of the Italian Bella Vita while on your stay in the capital, I can also suggest you to join a Rome Food Tour, which I believe it to be an awesome experience to learn about our immense culinary culture 😉
5. Rome was the First City in the World to reache the Population of 1 Million People!
According to historians, Rome was the first city to reach a whooping population of 1 million people, which happened around the year 133 B.C.
It is estimated that no other city ever reached 1 million inhabitants before the industrial revolution, about 2000 years after!
Because of its incredible size, Rome got its Latin nickname “Roma Caput Mundi” which translates to “Rome, Capital of the World”.
Today, the city of Rome counts around 4.3 million people, placing the city within the top 10 largest cities in Europe (behind Istanbul, Moscow, London, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid).
6. The Pantheon is a Giant Sundial, and with bad weather it rains inside!
The Pantheon is one of the most well-preserved buildings from the Roman era and it was a temple built in honor of all deities, past, present, and future.
The building is gigantic, and thinking that something like this was built over 2000 years ago makes it all the more crazy!
A fun fact about the Pantheon, is that its roof is a giant sundial which could be read to infer date and time.
If you’re visiting during a rainy day, don’t worry if you miss the chance to see the sundial in action: you will have the opportunity to witness one more cool thing about the Pantheon: it rains inside! The roof is open, and the center of the building gets splashed on bad weather days (luckily, there are manholes so the place doesn’t get flooded).
7. In Rome there are more than 900 Churches!
Italy overflows with churches: every city, village, and human settlement has a church, or two…or three… or well, you got it: in Italy, the number of churches competes with the number of Pizzerias, and I said it all! 😉
In Rome though, things get even more extreme: the count of churches in Rome goes beyond the nine hundred!
Being the city of Rome also the capital of the Vatican state and the residence of the pope, probably the number of churches is no wonder…but still!
Walking through Rome, I can tell you, that there are so many of them you’ll eventually get tired to see them! Even churches that were placed in another town would be huge and incredible attractions, in Rome will look small and irrelevant, just a few of the many around! 🙂
8. The Famous Trevi Fountain gathers around 3000 Euros every single day!
According to the legend, throwing one coin into Trevi Fountain’s water means that you’ll get a gift as precious as love or any other ambitious life goal: returning to the city of Rome one day!
Because of this tradition, almost everyone coming to visit the Trevi fountains throws at least a small coin in its waters (during the day you can witness hordes of tourists throwing coins and taking pictures and videos about it, it’s pretty funny too!).
Well… multiply a few cents for thousands of people every day, and it’s no wonder that the municipality of Rome gathers from the fountain alone over 3000 Euros every day (which then are sent for charity to the catholic church).
If you want one more interesting curiosity about the Trevi fountain to enrich your visit, here is another.
In front of the fountains, there are steps. Walk down all the way and walk to the right-hand side all the way. Here you will find a small fountain of drinkable water (which almost nobody knows of), that pours out by two little streams that cross paths with one another.
The legend says that if two people drink at the same time from the two streams (protecting each other from the opposite stream) they will be bound for life. A folkloristic and romantic curiosity about Rome 😉
9. Puking was a Normal Thing between the Rich Ancient Romans
Emperors and nobles during the Roman ages were extremely wealthy and organizing giant feasts was a display of power and wealth.
The Roman feasts were so incredibly exaggerated that invitees could not possibly taste all there was on offer without feeling overwhelmingly full.
Because of this, on many occasions, Romans were forcing puking to make space in their bellies and to eat more… life back then was truly crazy! 😉
10. Rome is the only city in the World to contain another Country within its Borders!
Rome is the only city in the world to have an enclave state within its borders: Vatican City!
The Vatican, home of the Pope and several cardinals, is the smallest independent country on Earth, with a population of barely 807 people.
The Vatican State consist in fact of a few buildings and the largest church on Earth, the Basilica of St. Peter, which is visited every year by over 5 million people! If you would like to visit the Basilica or the Vatican museums, you can check the opening times here.
The borders between Rome (Italy) and the Vatican City are open, there are no frontiers and no fees to pay to cross between the two (actually, while walking the city you would almost not notice you’re entering a new country if it wasn’t for the Vatican flags on the side of the road!).
11. Rome was not the first capital of Italy, but it became Capital after Turin and Florence
Rome is a millennial city, but Italy is a much much younger country, which has been founded only in 1861 A.C.
The first capital city of Italy was not Rome, but Turin, which remained the capital for only four years, until 1875. Then, the capital became Florence, which also remained capital for a meager six years.
In 1881, the capital city of Italy finally has been moved to Rome, where it remained ever since! 🙂
12. Rome has one of the most Photogenic (and secret!) keyholes in the world!
This is one of a kind curiosity: in Rome, it exists one of the most photogenic keyholes in the world!
To find this very special (and not so known spot!), you need to walk on the Aventino hill and find the gate of the palace “Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta”.
Here, by peeking through the keyhole, you’ll be able to see the Basilica of St. Peter framed by tall green hedges. The best time to witness this fantastic perspective of the Dome is surely by sunset when the rays of the sun cast a golden light over the roof of the church 🙂
13. Rome is a twin city with Paris, and the inhabitants of both cities can enter in the others’ museums for Free!
“Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris” was the motto that pushed the two European Capitals of Rome and Paris to become Exclusive Twin Cities of one another in 1956.
Although the “Twin City” status holds a greater symbolic value rather than a practical one, the friendship between the “City of Lights” and the “Eternal City” brought also a few benefits for the inhabitants of the two cities.
Indeed, residents of Rome can enter many museums in Paris for free and the same goes for the Parisienne citizens in the opposite way; not bad at all given the amount of masterpieces the two cities have to offer!
14. All Roads maybe don’t Lead anymore to Rome, but in Ancient times they Did!
Ever heard of the saying “all roads lead to Rome”?
This ancient saying comes from the fact that once upon a time all roads indeed led to Rome!
The Romans were the first population in Europe to build roads (of which many are still in use today!), which were useful to cut the huge distances between Rome and its expanding number of provinces.
The Roman roads were built by leveling the earth, covering it with mortar or sand, and topping it with small stones.
15. Rome is almost 2800 Years Old and was Founded way before Italy!
There is an exact date for when Rome was founded: in 753 B.C.
The city as of today, is almost 2800 years old and its story seems far away from ending anytime soon.
After all, if Rome holds the nickname “Eternal City” there should be a reason: the city through the millennials was always able to put itself back on its feet after every catastrophic event (fall of the Roman Empire, plagues, earthquakes, fires, pandemics, world wars, etc.) and re-emerge stronger than before.
All in all, Rome is a city so rich in culture that words cannot describe it: you have to see it with your own eyes to get a real feeling of the magnitude of its beauty! 🙂
And here we come at the end of this article 🙂
In this article, we have seen 20 interesting facts and curiosities about Rome that will enrich your journey through the city and help you to observe the beauty of Rome with different eyes! 🙂
As always, if you liked the article, if you have doubts or if you would like to share your personal experience, I invite you to write me in the comments below! 😀
I am always happy to exchange a few words with fellow travelers 🙂
Hereafter I will leave you also a few articles that you might be also interested to check out:
- 7 World-Class Museums You Never Heard Of
- Destinations of the World: Discover More Cool Destinations!
- Travel Italy: Discover the Most interesting, Curious and Unknown Places in Italy!
Thank you for reading, and see you in the next article! 🙂
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