100 Fun & Interesting Facts about Rome

Rome is one of the great cities of the world, from the days of the Roman Empire to the modern Italian capital.  

Below you’ll find 100 fun facts about Rome, focusing on the modern city of Rome. We’ll begin with some general Rome facts, followed by more random interesting facts, a few historical facts, and finally some facts about Roman food and drinks.  

General Rome Facts 

  • Rome has been the capital of the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, Papal States, Kingdom of Italy, and from 1946 to the present, the Italian Republic.  
  • Rome is the 4th most populous city in the European Union, with 2.8 million people living within the city limits.  
The skyline of Rome
Rome’s impressive skyline
  • At 580 mi2 (1500km2) Rome is similar in size to the entire region of Liguria in Northwest Italy, where the city of Genoa and the popular tourist region Cinque Terre are located.  
  • Rome is the largest of the 8101 comuni, or administrative districts of Italy, in terms or both size and population.  
  • Vatican City, the smallest country in the world, is inside Rome. It is the only country in the world that exists within another city. 
  • The Vatican and the Colosseum are the 37th and 39th most visited tourist attractions in the world. The Colosseum was chosen as one of the New7Wonders of the world in 2007.  
View of Vatican City from above.
The world’s smallest country, Vatican City, is in Rome.
  • Rome is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Europe.  
  • Italians call their capital city Roma, the original name of the city in the Latin language spoken in ancient Rome. The name most likely comes from Romulus, the city’s founder.  
  • Rome’s only official twin city is Paris, with the motto “Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.” 
  • Rome’s flag consists of a vertical column of red and another of yellow, the city’s two colors.
  • Other symbols of Rome include the she-wolf, eagle, glove, laurel tree, fasces, and the acronym SPQR, which stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus (“the Senate and the People of Rome”).

Interesting Facts about Rome 

  • Rome was not the first but the third capital of Italy, after Turin (1861 to 1865) and Florence (1865 to 1871).  
  • Rome is sometimes called the “City of Seven Hills” because it was founded on seven hills east of the Tiber River. However, dozens of other cities around the world claim the same title. 
View of Capitoline Hill in Rome
Capitoline Hill is the most important of the seven hills of Rome.
  • Other titles for Rome have included Imperial City, Eternal City, and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World). 
  • Oscar Wilde called Rome the “Scarlet Woman” and the “the one city of the soul”. 
  • Popular phases using Rome include “All roads lead to Rome”, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and “Do not sit in Rome and strive with the Pope”. 
  • The Historic Center of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site includes the Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman and Imperial Forums, the Holy See/Vatican, and numerous other ancient walls, monuments, fountains, and piazzas (squares).  
  • There are over 300 monumental fountains in Rome, the most famous of which is Trevi Fountain. Around 3000 Euros worth of coins are thrown into the fountain daily. The funds have been used to subsidize a supermarket for the needy in Rome. 
Trevi Fountain at dusk
Trevi Fountain is Rome’s most famous fountain.
  • There are 2500-2800 nasoni (literally “large noses”), or drinking fountains, in Rome, providing free drinking water to the city’s residents. 
  • Rome has around half a dozen “talking statues”, onto which residents have posted words of political grievance or dissent since the 16th century.  
  • There are at least 40 ancient catacombs below the city of Rome. Most house Christian, Jewish, or pagan burials.  
  • Rome has 8 ancient Egyptian obelisks, 5 ancient Roman obelisks, and several modern ones. 
An Egyptian obelisk in a square in Rome
Egyptian obelisk in Rome
  • Only about 10% of ancient Rome has been excavated. 
  • Rome has an elevated escape passage for popes called Passetto di Borgo. It goes from Vatican City to Castel Sant’Angelo. It has been used at least two times, in 1494 and 1527. 
  • Rome has an ancient garbage dump in disguise. Monte Testaccio is 35 meters tall and takes up 580,000 cubic meters. It is mostly composed of fragments of ancient Roman pottery. Today it is covered in grass. 
  • Rome has been a major center of Classical, Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical architecture. The arch, vault, and dome were mastered in Rome. 
Road leading to St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is the tallest building in central Rome.
  • No building in central Rome is allowed to be taller than St. Peter’s Basilica (136.5 meters) in Vatican City. Only one building in Rome, outside of the center, is taller (Torre Eurosky, at 155 meters).
  • There are more than 60 museums in Rome. They house masterpieces from artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, Caravaggio, Cavallini, and more. There are only a couple da Vinci works in Rome & the Vatican, as he only lived in the city for a brief time. 
  • Rome is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Europe (rated #3 by the Green City Index) and has one of the highest concentrations of parks and green spaces.  
  • Rome almost hosted the 1908 Summer Olympics, but it was unable due to the 1906 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. London hosted them instead. Rome also made a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.  
Fans cheering in the Stadio Olimpico (Olympic Stadium) in Rome
The Stadio Olimpico was rebuilt for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
  • Rome has also hosted the FIFA World Cup once, in 1990. On the eve of the game, The Three Tenors, which include Italy’s Luciano Pavarotti, performed for the first time at ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome. 
  • Tensions often run high between Rome’s two football teams: AS Roma and SS Lazio. The former tends to be supported by the inner-city working class, and has historically performed better, while the latter tends to be supported by the suburbs.  
  • Over 100,000 stray cats live in Rome. Many of them live amongst the ancient ruins. Stray cats are protected by law in Rome. 
  • In 2019, Rome was the 11th most visited city in the world, having received 10.1 million tourists.  
A group of tourists standing and taking pictures inside the Colosseum in Rome
A flock of tourists in the Colosseum
  • The headquarters of several United Nations agencies are in Rome, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 
  • Rome houses three of the world’s 100 largest companies: Enel, Eni, and Telecom Italia. 
  • Sapienza University, or the University of Rome, is the 3rd largest university in the EU by student enrollment numbers.  
Exterior of a building at the Sapienza University in Rome
Sapienza University, one of the oldest in Europe
  • Cinecittà Studios, the largest film studio in Europe, is in Rome. It has produced 47 academy-award winning films, including Cleopatra and La Dolce Vita. This has led to Rome being called “Hollywood on the Tiber.” 
  • Modern movies filmed or set in Rome include Zoolander 2, When in Rome (2002), When in Rome (2010), James Bond’s Spectre, Angels & Demons, Madagascar 3, and Eat Pray Love.   
  • Some modern celebrities who came from Rome are filmmaker Sergio Leone, footballer Francesco Totti, Maria Montessori (who founded the Montessori style of education), actress Sophia Loren, and Juan Carlos I, the former king of Spain. 
  • Rome is considered the fourth most important fashion capital in the world, after Milan, New York, and Paris.  
A woman carrying shopping bags down a fashionable shopping street in Rome
Shopping in Rome, a true fashion capital
  • The seat of the Roman government is at Palazzo Senatorio on the Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. The hill contains ancient ruins as well as a main square and palaces designed by Michelangelo. The name Capitoline Hill is the likely origin of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.  
  • Rome comune (or Metropolitan Rome) stretches to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, the larger of Rome’s two international airports, is located on the Tyrrhenian coast. 
  • Construction of Rome’s first Metro began in the 1930s, but was stalled because of WWII, and didn’t open until 1955. 
  • The Roma Termini Railway Station is one of the busiest train stations in Europe, with over 150 million passengers per year. It’s name comes from Termini neighborhood, which itself was named after the Roman baths (Latin: thermae) once found there. 
A train platform at Termini Station in Rome
Termini Station, Rome’s largest
  • 9.5% of Rome’s residents are non-Italian, including many Romanians, Polish, Ukrainians, Albanian, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, and Chinese.  
  • Rome has been a major Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. 
  • The highest recorded temperature for Rome was 40.1°C (104.1°F) on July 3, 1905.  
  • Smoking is banned in all public indoor places in Rome.  
  • Rome is known for its traffic congestion. The average resident of Rome spends 254 hours, equivalent to more than 10 days and nights, stuck in traffic every year. 
A serious traffic jam in Rome.
Rome is famous for its traffic jams.
  • Every New Year’s Day, after the canons are fired, a group of daredevils dive from the 17-meter Ponte Cavour into the freezing Tiber river
  • On Fiesta di Santa, the feast day of St. Frances of Rome, locals have their cars blessed by the patron saint of drivers.  
  • On Easter, the Pope leads a candlelit procession around the Colosseum. 
  • Rome’s Pride Parade takes place in June and is partnered with the Pride Parade in San Francisco.  
  • The Mayor of Rome officially starts the Christmas season by switching on the Christmas tree lights in Pizza Venezia.  

Facts about Roman History 

  • The area around Rome has been inhabited for at least 5000 years.  
Statue of Romulus and Remus feeding from the she-wolf
Romulus and Remus feeding from the she-wolf comes from the story of the founding of Rome.
  • Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 BCE. The legend states that the city was founded by Romulus, the son of the war god Mars. He and his brother Remus were raised by a she-wolf, often depicted in sculpture. Archaeologists have uncovered walls in Rome that predate 753, however. 
  • Rome remained a small town for centuries, during which the Etruscan civilization controlled much of Italy. 
  • Under the Roman Republic (509 BCE to 27 BCE), Rome came to dominate the region and conquered Greece and lands as far as Spain and Carthage in North Africa. 
  • In 133 BCE, Rome became the first city in the world with over 1 million people. The second city to reach such a size would was London, over 1800 years later.  
  • The Republic eventually succumbed to a series of wars. The Roman general Julius Caesar marched against Rome and became its ruler from 49 BC until his assassination in 44 BCE.  
A statue of Julius Caesar amongst the ruins in Rome, with some people walking by.
Julius Caesar statue in Rome
  • Caesar’s son, Caesar Augustus, or Octavian, became the first of 70 emperors that would rule the Roman Empire (27 BCE to 476 CE). 
  • The original Pantheon, a Roman temple that still stands in the city today, was built in 26 CE but burned down in a fire in 80 CE and later rebuilt.  
  • The Colosseum, completed in 80 AD, is the largest amphitheater ever built. It could hold 50,000 spectators and had a retractable roof. At the opening games, which lasted 100 days, over 9000 animals were slaughtered.  
  • At its greatest extent (around 117 CE), the Roman Empire covered 6.5 million km2 (2.5 million mi2), stretching from modern-day Morocco and Portugal in the west to Azerbaijan in the east.   
  • The Romans built over 250,000 miles (400,000 km) of roads. The longest one stretched over 930 miles (1500 km).  
Hadrian's Wall passing through a farmer's field in England.
Hadrian’s Wall in England was one of the furthest extensions of the Roman Empire.
  • Over 15,000 workers helped to construct Hadrian’s Wall, which separated Roman Britain from unconquered Caledonia to the north.  
  • When Christianity first appeared on the scene, it was a secret cult. In 313 CE, Emperor Constantine converted and moved the capital to Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul) and renamed the city Constantinople.  
  • After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rome declined in power and was incorporated into the Eastern Roman Empire. 
  • In the Middle Ages, Rome was much smaller in size and came to be the capital of the Papal State. During this time, ancient ruins were often used as a source of building materials.  
  • From the mid-15th to mid-16th centuries, Rome replaced Florence as the center of art and culture, a period called the Roman Renaissance.  
Ceiling artwork in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican
Renaissance Art in the Sistine Chapel
  • In 1527, Rome was sacked by mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire. The Papasy regained power and the renaissance continued.  
  • In 1861, King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy, beginning the Kingdom of Italy
  • In WWI, Italy began as neutral, then disregarded its alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary and sided with Great Britain, France, and Russia in the hope of gaining territory from Austria-Hungary. In the end, little territory was gained, and Italy lost 600,000 soldiers.  
  • Anger over this led to the rise of Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Army in 1922. 
Black and white photograph of Mussolini and Hitler riding in a car
Mussolini and Hitler
  • Mussolini razed 15 churches and many ancient houses to develop new areas and widen the streets of Rome. 
  • Pope Pius XII tried to save Rome from being bombed in WWII, but it was still bombed twice.  
  • In a 1946 referendum, Italians decided to transform the country from a monarchy into the Republic of Italy.  
  • In 1976, Prime Minister Aldo Moro was kidnapped for 55 days then killed by the far-left terrorist group Red Brigades. 
  • To mark the Great Jubilee at turn of the millennium in 2000, many ancient structures in Rome were given a facelift.  
  • In 2016, Rome elected its first-ever female mayor, Virginia Raggi.  

Facts about Roman Food & Drinks  

  • Ancient Rome’s cuisine was highly influenced by ancient Greek cuisine.  
  • Bruschetta has origins in ancient Rome, when olive growers would sample their oil on a slice of bread. Bruschetta remains a popular antipasto (appetizer) in Rome today. 
A plate of bruschetta on a white-clothed table on the street in Rome
Enjoying bruschetta in Rome
  • In the Renaissance period, Rome was known for its high cuisine, because some of the world’s best chefs worked for the popes. 
  • Roman cuisine didn’t include the tomato until it was introduced from the New World in the late 15th or early 16th century. 
  • The cuisine of Rome todaycusina Romana, emphasizes simple dishes created using the local produce of the Roman Campagna region.  
  • The pasta dishes carbonara (with egg and cured pork) and cacio e pepe, or “cheese & pepper”, originate in Rome.  
A close-up of a plate of cacio e pepe pasta in Rome
Cacio e pepe is a signature Roman dish.
  • Other popular dishes associated with Rome are ox tail, lamb, carciofi alla romana (stuffed artichokes), and Trippa alla romana (tripe with tomatoes, mint, and pecorino).  
  • People in Rome usually cook with strutto (pork lard) and prosciutto fat. Olive oil is reserved for salads. 
  • Romans tend to eat certain dishes on certain days of the week. For example, gnocchi is eaten on Thursdays, baccalà (salted cod) is for Fridays, and tripe is often enjoyed on Saturdays. 
  • Although pizza is more associated with Naples, where it originated, it is also very common in Rome.
  • La Pergola is the only restaurant in Rome to currently holds three Michelin stars. The German-born chef Heinz Beck specializes at creative Mediterranean cuisine crafted with top-quality ingredients. 
A glass of wine on a table in Rome with local architecture reflecting on the glass.
The buildings of Trastevere reflected in a glass of local white wine
  • Frascati and Castelli Romani are the most well-know white wines in Rome. They come from the Lazio wine region, just southeast of Rome.  
  • Rome has more than 40 McDonalds, but the fast food chain has been barred from erecting branches in the historic center.  
  • Starbucks claims to be modeled on Italian cafes, but Italians don’t like it. The first Starbucks in Rome is supposed to open in 2021 at Piazza San Silvestro. People in Rome prefer local cafés, and espresso and cappuccino are the drinks of choice.  
  • Most restaurants in Rome close from around 3 PM to 8 PM.