Rome is internationally famous for its landmarks, architecture and (often brutal) history. So we’ve hunted past the tales of Romulus and Remus or the slave uprising led by Spartacus to find out the facts which rarely make it to the guide books…
The €1 million Fountain
The Trevi fountain receives over €3,000 a day in donated loose change.
It’s illegal to remove money from the fountain — in 2002 a man was arrested for doing so — and the money is collected nightly and given to charities.
The Spanish Steps… aren’t Spanish
Misleadingly, the steps are so-called because the Spanish Embassy used to be located at their base. If anything, they’re hybrid French-Italian steps — their creation was funded by a French diplomat, Etienne Gueffier, and they were designed by two Italian architects, Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.
Shops, shops and more shops
Rome was the proud owner of the first-ever shopping mall. It was built under the rule of Emperor Trajan between 107 and 110 A.D., and consisted of several levels of over 150 shops that sold a wide array of goods from clothes to spices to food.
The Colosseum’s Sunroof
The Colosseum used to have a large sun roof, which could be stretch across the crowd to keep them in the shade — we can only presume it was similar in construction to the one over Central Court at Wimbledon.
Incredibly, the time for all 70,000 spectators to exit the grounds was only three minutes.
Rome is older than Italy
Rome was founded in 753 B.C., whereas Italy didn’t become a unified nation until the late 19th Century. This makes the city more than 2,500 years older than its host country.
Birthplace of Concrete
Concrete was a Roman invention, and was used on structures such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon. The Romans used it as part of vast architectural structures — from aqueducts to bridges — and were the first civilisation to use it successfully. The concrete Pantheon dome is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
Squatter’s Rights… for Cats
There are around 300,000 cats living on the streets — and attractions — of Rome. There’s a law in Rome which allows cats to live undisturbed by the authorities if they’re in groups of five or more — so the city has a fair few strays. Sounds like a prime opportunity for a Disney movie to us.
The Museum of Pasta
Opened in 1992, the museum devotes eleven rooms to (arguably) the most famous Italian foodstuff. Covering pasta production, innovations, evolution and even artwork, the museum gives a comprehensive overview of the Italian carb we know and love.