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Italy Today - Rome

The Cradle of Western civilization, heart of an Empire which ruled the entire known world for hundreds of years and center of Christendom - Rome is the Eternal City.
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Rome, Roma in Italian, embraces so many icons of the past that it can be hard to think beyond the Colosseum and Pantheon, beyond Michelangelo's dome for St. Peter's and Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers to a modern city where 3 million now live, a number swelled by the millions of tourists visiting year-round.
A city of two capitals, one of Italy, the other of the Catholic Church, Rome hosts a worldly community of two separate diplomatic corps, seminarians and religious pilgrims, scholars at foreign academies for classics and arts as well as students at national institutes for drama and music. Considerable panache is added by the film industry, which thrives here.

Despite the cosmopolitan air so many foreigners impart, the Romans themselves give the city its distinctive character. Full of zest, their driving, gesturing, and talking animates the city - or renders it chaotic, according to some.

However successfully the Romans have made the city theirs, it can be overwhelming on too brief a visit. If you have time only for the major museums and the most monumental sights, then you might miss falling in love with Rome. It is the small streets, often winding and medieval or simply Renaissance-straight, that can seduce you, delighting you as they suddenly open to a beautiful piazza or frame an ancient obelisk. Maybe, as they say, one lifetime isn't enough to know Rome. But you certainly can become acquainted.

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