Happy Birthday Rome!

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By Alberto Amore

Rome celebrated its 2,772nd on April 21st in what is affectionately known as ‘Natale di Roma’ or Roman Christmas. 

Trip Advisor will tell you that yes, Rome is the most beautiful city in the world. No city on earth, nor record breaking sword and sandal streaming series can hold a candle to the living history bestowned in the world’s most amazing living museum.

Those that know the story of Rome, know that no book, much less article, can ever cover the length and breadth of a culture and history of a city that is mostly responsible for the creation, disintegration and reinstatement of human civilization itself. The story of Rome is the story of  Mythology and Christianity, the story of Peace and War and the story of Empires and Revolution played out in grandest stage of all, the known western world. 

The famous joke from the wildly popular Monty Python’s Life Of Brian was “…All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” The joke of course is that we cannot even begin to list the benefits of Roman accomplishment which brought the product of civilization to the known world. 

We can thank Rome for the running water in our homes, for the food in our fridge, for the roads that transport us, the stadiums that entertain us and the call to order we now refer to as society. The contributions from the eternal city are endless and are the single greatest agent of change, transporting humanity from an ancient tribal world to the modern world, long before ‘modernity’ had ever been conceptualized. 

Rome’s foundation is strangely biblical sounding. Founded by two brotherly demi-gods, Romulus and Remus who argued over which of the seven hills they should build upon. The legend says that Romulus killed Remus and became the first self proclaimed King of Rome as its founder.

Rome was thought to be settled in the iron age which was conquered by their highly advanced neighbours, the Etruscans, who ruled until 509 which was the establishment of the Roman Republic as ruled by the Roman Senate. Following a 500 year reign, corruption and civil war led to the formation of the Roman Empire under the leadership of Augustus. Rome would go on to conquer the ancient world in two distinct reigns until 1453AD.

The greatness of Rome then humbled into Byzantine rule and the formation of the Papal states saw its importance and therefore population deteriorate. It was no longer the world capital. 

Rome however went through its own renaissance and replaced Florence as the epicentre of art and cultural enlightenment. The city was devastated yet again and ended up under French rule. Civil wars and rebellion led to the eternal city becoming the backdrop of many a war both international and civil until it was eventually named as the capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. 

Rome was not to survive modernity without more devastation having been bombed several times by occupying Allied forces in World War II. Finally Rome was declared an open city in 1943, the greatest city in the world, the capital of the known world, now a city in ruin. Italy would keep Rome as the capital of the newly formed Republic of Italy and Rome would rebuild and go on to become one of the world’s greatest cultural capital’s both literally and figuratively.  

Robert DeNiro once said, ”Italy has changed. But Rome is Rome.” I guess that’s why they call it the eternal city. Happy Birthday Rome!