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55 Fascinating Facts About Rome You Probably Didn’t Know

Rome, the capital of Italy, is an enchanting city characterized by culture and heritage. The city has so much to offer from beauty, tourism, and food to a fascinating history! For thousands of years, Rome has been a city that attracts millions of people.

55 Facts About Rome

Table of Contents

History, culture, pasta and pizza – what more could you expect from the capital of Italy?

Here are fifty-five interesting facts about Rome.

1. Rome was founded in 735 BC

The city of Rome was founded on 21 April, 735 BC. There is not much clarity on exactly how the city was founded, but there are many different Roman myths and legends to be told about the account.

2. Rome has over 2000 Fountains

There are more than 2000 fountains in Rome, including the iconic Trevi Fountain. Here are just 20 of the dazzling Roman fountains for you to check out.

Trevi fountain rome
Trevi Fountain

3. Trevi Fountain Riches

Every night, an average of E3,000 in coins are collected from the Trevi Fountain and donated to Catholic charities in Rome.

4. One River, Thirty Bridges

Rome sits on the bank of the Tiber River, which splits into two. The river has thirty bridges that can be used to cross it. Here are 15 Roman bridges that are worth visiting.

st angelo bridge rome italy
st angelo bridge rome italy

5. The Wonder of the Colosseum

The Colosseum is a tourist attraction and bucket-list item for thousands. This famous landmark, which seats approximately 50,000, is in fact one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

If you want to skip the line at the Colosseum, here is what you need to know.

6. Colossal Casualties

Over the centuries, and throughout the battles held in the Colosseum, an estimate of over 500,000 people were killed, as well as around one million wild animals.

Rome Colosseum Hypogeum skip the line colosseum

7. Gladiator Fame

Ancient Roman Gladiators were considered celebrities. Despite what the stories tell us, they rarely ever fought to the death, but instead fell into a life of slavery.

8. The Emperor Lost His Marbles!

Emperor Gaius Caligula, who ruled from 37 to 41 AD, was downright insane. It’s safe to say that he did some questionable things during his ruling.

He granted his horse a senator, he had sexual relations with his sisters, he fed prisoners to wild animals, and he has frequent conversations with the moon. Doesn’t really sound like someone fit to rule a city if you ask me.

9. Fifty Ancient Monuments

Rome has more than fifty ancient monuments, dating back to as early as the second century BC.

Vittorio Emmanuel monument rome
Vittorio Emmanuel monument

10. Eat, Eat & Eat Some More

Many years ago, (and probably still today), the Roman’s loved to eat. So much so that they would actually force themselves to throw up in between meals. Why? So that they could eat more!

11. The Gods of What?

It’s no secret that the Romans had many different gods and goddesses. But some might say they took it too far when it comes to Cloacina (the sewer goddess), Crepitus (the god of flatulence) and Stercutius (the god of excretion).

interior of the sistine chapel
Sistine Chapel

12. Long Live the Romans

The life expectancy in Ancient Rome wasn’t what it is today. Romans were expected to live until their twenties, their thirties at a maximum.

13. Cover It Up

For a lot of people, their wedding night is a night of new-found intimacy and passion! For the Romans, the women were not allowed to let their husbands see them naked ever again after their wedding night.

14. Cannibalism or Communion?

Once upon a time, there was talk from the Romans that Christians were cannibals? But it was all a misunderstanding… The Romans didn’t quite understand the concept of the Christians eating bread and wine as symbols of the body and blood of Christ.

fountains in rome

15. Ancient Roman Breathalyzer Test

As most husbands would when they arrive home from a tough day of work, they give their wives a kiss. So did the Ancient Roman men, but not for the romantic reason you would think. Husbands would kiss their wives in an attempt to discern any drunkenness from their better halves.

16. The Land of (Almost) 1000 Churches

Rome is home to 900 churches, and has the most Christian churches in the world. The oldest of these churches is the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Santa Maria Church rome monuments
Santa Maria Church rome

17. SPQR

The four letters ‘SPQR’ form an emblematic symbol that can be seen all over Rome, including its currency. But what does it mean? ‘SPQR’ stands for ‘Senātus Populusque Rōmānus’ which translates to ‘The Roman Senate and People.”

18. Roman DIY Hair Colour

The women in Ancient Rome would dye their hair either red or blonde. As modern-day hair dye was not yet invented, they would use goat fat and beachwood ashes to give them that perfect colour.

19. Gladiator Blood

Gladiator blood was a very special product for the Ancient Romans. As bizarre as it sounds, the blood of Gladiators (and Gladiators only) was used in healthcare – as a form of fertility treatment and even as treatment for epilepsy.

Rome Colosseum pink flowers
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20. Use of Urine

Similarly to today, men would use urinals to urinate. However, not similarly to today, after they had finished urinating, the men would use their own urine to wash their clothes and even to brush their teeth.

21. Modern-Day Roman Olympics

In 1960, Rome hosted the world’s Summer Olympics. Although inspired by the Ancient Roman Olympic Games, unfortunately the modern-day Olympics could not be hosted in the world-famous Colosseum, as you would imagine.

22. Capital of the World

The Latin phrase ‘Caput Mundi’ is commonly used to refer to the city of Rome. The phrase translated into English means ‘Capital of the World.’ This is because of the empire’s expansive growth over the years.

bernini elephant rome
bernini elephant

23. What Not to Wear

Back in the day, the Ancient Romans had a concept of free-born clothing. If you were born in the city, you were allowed to wear specific clothing, which signified that you were a worthy citizen. Women wore stolas and men wore togas.

24. Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Rome is home to the The Bocca della Verità, which translates to ‘The Mouth of Truth.’ Legend has it, Rome’s ancient built-in lie detector had a mouth of marble that would bite off the hand of anyone who dared tell a lie.

mouth of truth rome
mouth of truth

25. She-Wolf City

Since Ancient Roman times, the she-wolf has been the symbol of the city. The bronze statue of the Capitoline Wolf, which dates back to 295 BC, shows a mother-wolf feeding the two mythical founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

26. Flooding of the Colosseum

Back in 80 AD, the Ancient Romans clearly got bored of their usual Olympic Games and gladiator battles. If you’ve already tried fighting to the death for sport, what else is there to do? Boat battles. We’re not sure how, and we’re not sure why – it probably just seemed like a good idea at the time.

27. The Vatican City Enclave

In the heart of Rome, with its very own enclave which it completely surrounds. The Vatican City, home to the Pope, is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world.

detail at st peters
detail at st peters

28. Ancient Rome vs Ancient Italy

A very interesting fact is that Rome is actually older than Italy. Rome was founded in 735 BC, however Italy did not become a unified nation until the late nineteenth century, making it younger than it’s capital city.

29. City of Cats

Picture every ‘cat lady’ in the world coming together and forming one population, that’s basically Rome. The Roman Law has a special municipal law that gives cats, in particular, the right to live free and safe. No wonder there are more than 300,000 cats roaming the streets.

ponte sant'angelo rome
ponte sant’angelo rome

30. Fiddling in the Fire

The Ancient Roman Emperor Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 AD, is famous for fiddling during the Great Fire. Yes, you read that right. He played the fiddle as the Great Fire of Rome burned the city to the ground.

31. Freaky Friday: Roman Edition

In Ancient Rome, the people had a festival called Saturnalia, where slaves and masters would switch places for the duration of the event. The ancient annual event was held in honor of the agricultural god of Saturn.

During the festival, slaves did not have to work and were invited to join in the festivities while their masters served them for a change.

32. 12-Hour Days

The Ancient Romans divided their days into twelve hours instead of twenty-four. They used a sundial as part of their timekeeping method.

guards at st peters
guards at st peters

33. Purple Equals Power

In Ancient Roman times, purple was worth more than gold. The colour represented status, wealth, royalty and power. If you were neither an emperor or a senator, it was considered treason if you were seen wearing the royal colour.

34. No Toilet Paper? No Problem

Back in Ancient Rome, they didn’t have toilet paper – and not just because they ran out and got stuck on the loo. Instead they would use a wet sponge with some running water to sort themselves out.

35. The Unlucky Left-Handed

The Ancient Roman’s believed that anyone who was left-handed was bound to be unlucky in life. In fact, the Latin foundation of the word ‘sinister’ translated to ‘left’.

the vatican interior ceiling
the vatican interior ceiling

36. The Pope’s Private Passetto

The Passetto di Borgo is a secret tunnel dating back to the year 1277. The passage, owned by the Pope, is an 800 metre long corridor and served as an escape route for Popes in danger.

37. Trajan’s Market

The Trajan’s Market, the first ever shopping mall in the world, was built in Rome between 107-110 AD by Emperor Trajan. The mall had multiple levels and over 150 different stores which sold everything from clothing to groceries.

38. Pasta Museum

I don’t know about you, but I just added this one to my bucket-list! The National Museum of Pasta is the only one of its kind and features hundreds of rooms dedicated to different types of pasta.

spanish steps at sunset
spanish steps at sunset

39. The (Not-So-Spanish) Spanish Steps

First of all, who knows why a flight of steps located in Rome are called the Spanish steps? Second of all, they aren’t really even Spanish! The Spanish Steps are in fact French, due to being funded by a French diplomat by the name of Etienne Gueffier. But they are also Italian, obviously due to the fact that they were built in Rome Italy, but also thanks to their Italian Architects.

40. Flamingo’s Tongue, Yum?

Today’s Romans are stereotyped as loving pizza and pasta, but their ancestors were a bit more adventurous when it came to their snacks. Just a few of these bizarre delicacies include stuffed dormice, sea urchins, flamingo tongue, garum sauce, lamb brain, and sow’s womb.

41. First Million

Rome was the first modern city to reach a population of one million people. Today the population of Rome is just over 2.8 million.

castel sant-angelo rome
castel sant-angelo rome

⇒ Explore more of Europe in my posts on 14 Beautiful Cities in Europe 16 European Palaces not to Miss, 17 Beautiful Castles in Europe Not to Miss, 21 Most Beautiful Countries in Europe, 9 Most Beautiful Cities in Germany, 26 Landmarks of Germany, 25 Rome Monuments, 60 Most Famous Landmarks in the World, 12 Beautiful Famous Spain Landmarks, 9 Famous Ireland Landmarks and 16 Famous Landmarks in Europe.

42. How Popular is Rome Today

Rome is the 14th most visited city in the world, the 3rd most visited city in the European Union and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy.

43. Rome has a Birthday

If you’re in Rome on April 21 bring a gift! Apparently Rome was “born” in 753 BC so I don’t think it will be a late night.

44. Law & Order and many other tv shows owe Rome

The first legal system in the world was in Rome. The first laws were known as the Twelve Tables and were written in the 5th century BC.

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of the Four Rivers

You might enjoy reading my posts on 37 Fascinating Facts about Paris, 37 Facts about Greece, and 55 Fascinating Facts about Rome You Probably Don’t Know.

45. There is no need to buy bottled water in Rome

In Ancient Rome, the people of the city figured out how to get fresh water into the city for drinking and bathing. That still holds today and the city’s 2000 fountains dispense fresh and delicious water.

46. The concept of Spa was created in Rome

Spa stands for Sana Per Acquam which means health through water. The early Romans understood that there was a relationship between cleanliness and health and as per my previous fact they took this seriously. The Romans were the first to build large public baths.

47. St Peter’s Basilica is the tallest building in Rome

The top of the dome takes St Peter’s to a height of just over 136 metres. Even today, by law no building in Rome can be higher than this.

monument to giuseppe mazzini rome
monument to giuseppe mazzini

⇒ Planning a trip to the Eternal City? Don’t miss my posts on 20 Dazzling Fountains in Rome, 55 Fascinating Facts about Rome, 15 Beautiful Bridges in Rome, 25 Spectacular Rome Monuments and my Skip the Line Colosseum Guide.

48. Rome has more obelisks than Egypt

The romans love an obelisk! After Cleopatra and Anthony were defeated Egypt came under Rome’s rule. It is estimated that the Romans took more than 50 obelisks from Egypt. Today 13 obelisks can be seen across the city.

49. Rome has more Catacombs than any other city

The Rome Catacombs run for over 400 kilometres under the suburbs of Rome. The 60 tunnels were originally dug by the Christians to bury the dead.

50. The Vatican is the largest museum in the world

Well largest museum complex. The Vatican is made up of 1000 museums and galleries.

sistine chapel city facts about rome
Sistine Chapel Ceiling

51. Rome is the most populated city in Italy

Rome has a population of just over 2.8 million people which gives it a density of just over 2,200 people per square metre. In ancient times, Rome was 32 times more densely populated than today.

52. Rome has one of the oldest universities in the world.

La Sapienza University is the largest in Rome and very prestigious. It has been home to many well known scientists and Nobel Prize winners. It was founded in 1303 and today has more than 147,000 students.

53. The Pantheon has been in use for 2,000 years

The very definition of being resistent to trends, the Pantheon has is one of Rome’s main landmarks. It was built in 125 AD as a massive Roman temple and is still in use as a Catholic Church 2,000 years later.

pantheon rome exterior
pantheon rome exterior

Read more about Italy in my posts on the 15 beautiful cities in Italy, best places to visit in Puglia, 7 Charming Sardinia Boutique Hotels, 11 Places to see the Venice Sunset, 55 Fascinating Facts about Rome, 16 Beautiful Bridges in Rome, 18 Venetian Palaces to Visit or Sleep In 27 Must-See Landmarks in Venice, 20 Beautiful Fountains in Rome, 25 Rome Monuments, 24 Famous Landmarks in Italy and the Best Ski Resorts in Italy.

54. Romans were the first to use concrete for construction.

Roman concrete was made from volcanic dust mixed with rock pieces, lime and seawater. They began using this mix for construction 2,200 years ago. The concrete made by the Romans back then lasts considerably longer than the concrete that is manufactured today.

55. Only 10% of Ancient Rome has been excavated.

Excavation isn’t cheap nor is maintaining ancient ruins once they are found. For this reason much of Ancient Rome still lies underground waiting to be discovered.

circus maximus rome
circus maximus

⇒ Love Italy? Me too! You might enjoy reading about the Most Beautiful Cities in Italy, Most Famous Landmarks in Italy, Top Rome Monuments, Top Venice Landmarks, Bridges in Rome, Fountains in Rome, Venetian Palaces, How to Skip the Line at the Colosseum, Best Ski Resorts in Italy, Best Wineries in Montepulciano, Things to do in Rimini, Places to Visit in Puglia and Things to do in Sicily.

The More You Know About Rome…

Now that you have just a little more background on the beautiful city of Rome, we hope you are even more excited for your next adventure to the city. Rome is still one of the most stunning tourist vacations in the world.

english bridge rome
english bridge rome

Who Paid for What in this Post

I covered all of the costs involved in writing this post. However, this facts about Rome post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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