Rome, Italy – September 20th, 2008
Rome (Latin: Roma) is the capital city of Italy and Lazio, and is Italy’s largest and most populous city, with more than 2.7 million residents, and a metropolitan area of almost 4 million inhabitants. It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian peninsula, on the Tiber river.
Rome stands on top of more than two and a half thousand years of history, was once the largest city in the world and the centre of Western civilisation. Rome is still the heart of Christianity, being seat of the Roman Catholic Church which controls the Vatican City as its sovereign territory, an enclave of Rome.
Today, Rome is a modern, cosmopolitan city, and the third most-visited tourist destination in the European Union. Due to its influence in politics, media, the arts and culture, Rome has been described as a global city.
Rome is in the Lazio region of central Italy on the Tiber river (Italian: Tevere). The original settlement developed on hills which faced onto a ford beside the Tiber island, the only natural ford on the river. The historic centre of Rome was build on seven hills: the Aventine Hill, the Caelian Hill, the Capitoline Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Palatine Hill, the Quirinal Hill, and the Viminal Hill. The city is also traversed by another river the Aniene with joins the Tiber to the north of the historic centre.
Although the city centre is about 24 kilometres (14.9 mi) inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, the city territory extends to the very shore, where the south-western Ostia district is located. The altitude of the central part of Rome ranges from 13 m (43 ft) above sea level (at the base of the Pantheon) to 139 m (456 ft) above sea level (the peak of Monte Mario). The comune of Rome covers an overall area of about 1,285 km2 (496 sq mi), including many green areas.
Historically, the urban limits of Rome were considered to be the area within the city walls. Originally, these were the Servian Wall which was built twelve years after Gauls’ sack of the city in 390 BC. This contained most of the Esquiline and Caelian hills, as well as the whole of the other five. Rome grew out of the Servian Wall, but no more walls were constructed until almost 700 years later, when in 270 AD Emperor Aurelian began building the Aurelian Walls. These were almost 19 kilometres (12 mi) long, and were still the walls the troops of the Kingdom of Italy had to breach to enter the city in 1870. Modern Romans frequently consider the city’s urban area to be delimited by its ring-road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare, which circles the city center at a distance of about 10km.
The Comune of Rome, however, covers considerably more territory and extends to the sea at Ostia, the largest town in Italy not to be a comune in its own right. The comune covers an area roughly three times the total area within the Raccordo and is comparable in area to the entire provinces of Milan and Naples, and to an area six times the size of the territory of these cities. The comune also includes considerable areas of abandoned marsh land which is neither suitable for agriculture nor for urban development.
Consequently the density of the comune is not that high, the communal territory being divided between highly-urbanized areas and areas designated as parks, nature reserves, and agricultural use. The Province of Rome is the largest by area in Italy. At 5.352 km², its dimensions are comparable to the region of Liguria, and more than three times the size of the greater metropolitan area of London.