World's first real metropolis

Rome, the capital of Italy, is popular for a city trip. It offers modern conveniences, but above all, you can get a look at the Roman past. In fact, you can see this anywhere you look. It's a wonderful place to visit.

In Rome you cannot avoid comparing the past and the present.The centuries-old décor has a young beating heart. This is a trendy and bustling city, but also a busy and loud one. It's a meeting point for business people, tourists, children, traders, the 'new' rich and the poor. There is always something going on.

Enjoying Italian food in a restaurant in Rome.

The history of Rome

In Rome, you cannot avoid comparing the past and the present. In the past, the bathhouses were the focal point, nowadays it’s the cafés. The inhabitants of Rome have always felt very strongly about spending leisure time and life outdoors, just as they do about good food and beverages. 

This is also one of the most important elements that caused the Roman Empire to flourish. After work comes time for pleasure, something that was available in all sorts of different forms then. There are world-famous games with gladiators and wild animals organised regularly. There were chariot races and performances in various amphitheaters every day. Also, sometimes there was just peace and quiet. In those days, the bathhouse was a place for social gatherings. 

The bathhouses have now been exchanged for modern cafés. In fact, the old Romans also had their drinking taverns, just as they had their gambling establishments. Walking through Rome you will notice the lively, modern town intertwine with the ancient city, sometimes flowing, sometimes outright ugly. On a clear day, you can still see that Rome was built on seven hills, still carrying the authentic Roman names: Capitoline, Quirinal, Palatine, Aventine, Viminal, Esquiline, and Caelian. 

Rome was the first real metropolis.

There is one fact that stands out: Rome was once the center, not only of the already enormous Roman Empire but actually of all of Europe. Not just for a while, but for many centuries and with a very high standard, both strategically as well as culturally. It is, therefore, the first real metropolis, a city where artists like Michelangelo and Caravaggio were given the opportunity to develop.

It’s a city that continued to grow, despite various wars, shortages of drinking water, earthquakes, epidemics and fires. If you walk around the city now, you will have some understanding of what it must have looked like during the various periods. It was as early as in the 1st century when Lucian referred to Rome as ‘caput mundi’, or center of the world, a metropolis. This is a term used often nowadays, but in this case, it is really appropriate.

Best time to visit Rome

You can visit Rome throughout the year. The summer months (from July to mid-September) are extremely busy and the waiting lines at the many attractions of the city will be very long. This may also be the case in spring, especially on the weekends.

If you want to visit many sites and see lots of attractions, it is best to travel to Rome in October or in March/April. It is recommended to visit the most popular attractions early in the morning. Try to explore the less popular sites in the afternoon. Except for the popular Vatican museums, where it is quieter in the afternoon. Make sure to take your time to explore all the works of art in the museums.