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Rome

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Rome (Italian: Roma, Latin: Roma) is the capital city of the Italian Federation and of the Lazio region.

Piranesi Piazza San Pietro

Saint Peter's Square with St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, in 1748

History

According to a legend, the city of Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on April 21 753 BC and archaeological evidence supports the theory that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill (built in the area of the future Roman Forum), coalescing into a city in the 8th century BC. The city developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom (ruled by a succession of seven kings, according to tradition), the Roman Republic (from 510 BC, governed by the Senate) and finally the Roman Empire (from 27 BC, ruled by an Emperor); this success depended on military conquest, commercial predominance, as well as selective assimilation of neighboring civilizations, most notably the Etruscans and Greeks. From the foundation of Rome in 753 BC, the City of Rome was undefeated militarily (though losing occasional battles), until 386 BC, when Rome was occupied by the Celts (one of the three main Gallic tribes), and then recovered by Romans in the same year. According to the history, the Gauls offered to deliver Rome back to its people for a thousand pounds of gold, but the Romans refused, preferring to take back their city by force of arms rather than ever admitting defeat.

Roman dominance expanded over most of Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, while its population surpassed one million inhabitants. Rome was also known as Caput Mundi, a Latin phrase that means "capital of the world". For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest and largest city in the Western world, and remained so after the Empire started to decline and was split, even if it ultimately lost its capital status to Milan and then Ravenna, and was surpassed in prestige by the Eastern capital Constantinople.

With the reign of Constantine I, the Bishop of Rome gained political as well as religious importance, eventually becoming known as the Pope and establishing Rome as the center of the Catholic Church. After the Sack of Rome in AD 410 by Alaric I and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, its population declined to a mere 20,000 during the Early Middle Ages, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins and vegetation. Rome remained nominally part of the Byzantine Empire rule until AD 751 when the Lombards finally abolished the Exarchate of Ravenna. In 756, Pepin the Short gave the pope temporal jurisdiction over Rome and surrounding areas, thus creating the Papal States.

Rome remained the capital of the Papal States until its annexation into the Kingdom of Italy in 1870; the city became a major pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages and the focus of struggles between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire starting with Charlemagne, who was crowned its first emperor in Rome on Christmas 800 AD by Pope Leo III. Apart from brief periods as an independent city during the Middle Ages, Rome kept its status of Papal capital and "holy city" for centuries, even when the Pope briefly relocated to Avignon (1309–1337). While no longer politically powerful, as tragically shown by the brutal sack of 1527, the city flourished as a hub of cultural and artistic activity during the Renaissance and the Baroque, under the patronage of the Papal court. The Population rose again and reached 100,000 during the 17th century, but Rome ultimately lagged behind the rest of European capital cities over the subsequent centuries, being largely busy in the Counter-Reformation process.

Italy became caught up in the nationalistic turmoils of the 19th century and twice gained and lost a short-lived independence. Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the reast of Italy was reunited under the Kingdom of Italy with a temporary capital at Florence. In the 1860s the last vestiges of the Papal states were under French protection but in July 1870 the Franco-Prussian War started and French Emperor Napoleon III could no longer assure its protection. Soon after on September 20 the Italian army entered Rome through Porta Pia and the city was occupied the following day, a provisional Government Joint created out of local noblemen to avoid the rise of the radical factions. Rome was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after a plebiscite held on October 2. Pope Pius IX declared himself a prisoner in the Vatican, although he was not actually restrained from coming and going.

During the Weltkrieg, Rome fell to the Central Powers on the August 1 1919: five days later Italy unconditionally surrendered to the Germans. On May 3 1922 the Italian Federation was established, led by the newly elected Pope Pius XI, and Rome was naturally chosen as its capital, once again under Papal control.

Piazza st

Saint Peter's Square and Basilica, 1909

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