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The city of Rome, with its 4.5 million inhabitants and approximately equal number of scooters and cars, can rightfully claim to be one of Europe's busiest cities. Tiring? We'd say the bustle is relative. A quick afternoon nap at Villa Borghese, a stroll through the marvellous Trastevere district and an excellent expresso will get you a long way.

As you stroll through Rome, you'll feel as though you're in an open air museum. The city has so many beautiful, must-see sights. The Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountains. We could go on for hours! A surprising glimpse of the past lurks around every corner. Each glimpse gives you an idea of how ancient, imperial Rome used to be. If you go to Rome, it's definitely worth mapping out a route before you start.

While you're in Rome, you'll undoubtedly also visit the Vatican. With just 900 inhabitants, the Vatican, a city-state within a city, is the world's smallest state. It was founded in 1929, after disputes between Italy and the Popes, and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is the head of state, the current pope is Pope Benedict XVI.

For centuries now, Italians and fashion have gone hand in hand. You're bound to come across all the famous Italian fashion houses when you're in Rome. The city's attractive little shops and boutiques cater very well for visitors with a slimmer wallet.

Italians are also expert in the art of magari, or food. Rome abounds with pleasant restaurants that serve tasty fare. To help you get started, we've gone ahead and found a few toppers. From the ultimate pizza to a convivial enoteca, success is guaranteed.

One thing is certain, you'll have no time to be bored during your trip to this city!

History

Rome is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Legend has it that Rome was founded around 700 BC by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. The twins were suckled by a wolf. According to the legend, Romulus murdered his twin brother Remus following an argument over who would rule the city. He then became Rome's first king.

Rome was originally built on seven hills. During the 6th century BC, the Roman Empire developed into a vast empire which encompassed all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, a large section of West Europe and part of the Middle East. Julius Caesar ruled as a dictator for a period until his murder in 44 BC. His adopted son Octavianus then became Rome's first emperor. Augustus, as he came to be called, ruled from 27 BC until 24 AD, bringing calm, peace and prosperity to the city.

Although Rome's population declined after the fall of the Roman Empire, the city remained important. Rome was and still is the centre of the Roman Catholic faith.
Rome's decline continued during the Middle Ages, but the city blossomed again in the fifteenth century and was made more beautiful by major Renaissance and Baroque artists like Michelangelo and Raphael. In the 16th century, architects like Bernini and Borromini designed many buildings. During the 18th century, many people visited the city. Pilgrims, artists, archaelogists and the then elite all made their way to Rome.

Mussolini marched on the city in 1922. The fascist dictator wanted to restore the old Empire, however his alliance with Hitler brought this administration to an end. The fascist regime was deposed by the allies in 1943. In 1946 the monarchy was abolished and Italy was declared a republic.

Rome has such a rich history and such a wealth of archaeology, art and architecture that it's still very much in demand today.