Since I started to write in this blog, I’ve discovered more secrets of Rome over the time. Sometimes, I dig those little “pieces” out from books and online research. Sometimes, I hear it from the locals or the tour guides. I invited my friend and the tour guide of Carpe Diem Rome, Russell, to share his insights of Rome. Here’s what he said,
Want to know a few things about Rome that you won’t find in every guidebook? I’ve been a tour guide in Rome since I washed up here in 2015. This post lists a few of my favorite facts that you should know about the Eternal City!
1.Julius Caeser wasn’t killed in the Roman Forum
I often come across people on my tours who are shocked to find that out. Shakespeare’s famous play enacts a scene where all of the senators conspire against Caesar in the Roman Forum…So we have Shakespeare to thank for that!
However, you can visit the archaeological site at Largo Di Torre Argentina, where he truly was conspired against and assassinated. These days Largo Di Argentina is also the cat Sanctuary of Rome. So, you can expect to find some feline friends lounging in the sun there.
2.The Aqua Vergine is still flowing 2000 years later
Rome had 11 major aqueducts fuelling a population that reached over 1 million people. The impeccably designed aqueducts were so good that most of the 11 were functional until the 1960s. Astonishingly, one of those Aqueducts is still in use today. Its name is Aqua Vergine, or in English the Virgins Aqueduct. It also supplies all of the water to the Trevi Fountain. Have a think about that whilst you flick your coin in!
3.Throwing money in the Trevi Fountain derives from Ancient traditions
During the times of the pagan faith, it was considered good luck to visit a fountain when visiting a new place and throw a coin in.
Today the Trevi Fountain attracts millions of people because of its beauty and the modern legend of the coin toss. The fountain is said to collect on average 3000 Euros a day. It all goes to a charity that works with the homeless and discount supermarkets.
4.Italy is a very new country
Although there can be some deliberation over the exact date of unification, it is commonly accepted that Italy was unified in 1872 by King Vittorio Emanuele… That is nearly 100 years after the USA!
Make sure to explore than Pantheon during your time in Rome, where you will find the tomb of the first King of a unified Italy Vittorio Emanuele.
5.500th year anniversary of Raphaels death
That name should sound familiar… one of the great painters of the Renaissance, he has left his touch all over the beautiful city of Rome. He too is buried in the Pantheon. This year you will find a rose lying on top of his tomb to honor the anniversary. He died on the 6th of April 1520 of syphillis!
6.Rome is 2773 years old!
Rome’s legendary birth took place in 753BC on the 21st of April. Yes, we have just celebrated its 2773rd birthday.
The date derives from the story of Romulus and Remus, and the creation of Rome, which states the two brothers were cast away by their mother at birth to be rescued by a she-wolf. The she-wolf mothered them till they got into an argument which amounted to a fight to the death. Romulus won, thus the name Rome.
7.The Colosseum wasn’t the main stadium in Rome
Rome’s eldest stadium and for a long time, the most popular was the Circus Maximus. It dates back to the 7th Century BC where it first staged horse racing, and later chariots. Chariot racing became so popular that by the year 103AD the mighty Emperor Trajan had the stadium revamped to capacitate a whopping 250’000 spectators.
To put that into perspective the Colosseum was known to seat around 50’000 spectators.
8.Gladiators didn’t always fight to the death
Contrary to popular belief that is inspired by the Hollywood film gladiator starring Russell Crowe, Gladiators did not always die during a fight!
Some experts believe as little as 10 percent died at the end of the fight. Even once a fight was lost the life of loser would often be spared. Similar to Martial Arts today there was even a referee present in the Arena.
9.Churches upon Churches
The official count of Churches in Rome is now 986.
Italy is predominantly a Catholic country. It is also home to the separate country of Vatican City that contains St Peter’s Basilica…the heart of the catholic faith. Over the years some of the world’s grandest churches have been built in Rome, displaying large amounts of gold originating from South America.
Even if you aren’t a believer, you should make sure to nip inside some of the churches in Rome to see the masterpieces of history’s most famous artists.
10.Ancient Roman Penthouses
Unlike today the Ancient Roman Penthouse was not situated on the top floor of a building. In fact the wealthy lived on the ground floor…. Why is that? Well, with no elevators back in the day and the frequent fires that swept through the city the ground floor was a privilege that Romans paid for!
Written by Russell Hammond, Tour Guide for Carpe Diem Rome
Russell is a coffee, gelato and fitness lover from the UK. He has been working as a tour guide in Rome since he ran out of money on an interrail trip in 2015. Lots of books later, a few years of elbow grease, and lots of fun and he is now the Co- Founder of Carpe Diem Rome Tours. The rustic alleyways, warm summer nights and incredible food had him hooked – he knew he had to stay in Rome. When he takes his guide badge off a few things you might find him doing is running, muay thai kickboxing, watching sunsets, scuba-diving, meeting new people and experiencing new things.
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