Rome is the Italian capital and most populated city (fourth-most populous city in the European Union). Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, being one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. Rome has been the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization. For such reasons, it is often referred to as “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) or “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World), two central notions in ancient Roman culture.
After the Fall of the Empire, which marked the begin of the Middle Ages, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Pope, which had settled in the city since the 1st century AD, until in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Currently, Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Rome is not only represented by its masterpieces of art and monuments, bequeathed by one of the largest empires in the history of man and by four hundred years of breathtaking architectonic and urbanistic marvels during the Italian Renaissance. Its typical streets and alleyways offer the possibility of discovering the most characteristics traits of Italian lifestyle, tradition and culture. Visiting Rome allows to discover the many different historical layers which have built this wonderful city through the centuries, from the remains of the Roman empire, through the Medieval, Renaissance periods up to the modern day architecture that dots the city throughout.
Actually, Rome is the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums (5th most visited art museums in the world) and the Colosseum are among the world's most visited tourist destinations, with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year.