Rome, historic city and capital of Roma provincia (province), of Lazio regione (region), and of the country of Italy. Rome is located in the central portion of the Italian peninsula, on the Tiber River about 15 miles (24 km) inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Once the capital of an ancient republic and empire whose armies and polity defined the Western world in antiquity and left seemingly indelible imprints thereafter, the spiritual and physical seat of the Roman Catholic Church, and the site of major pinnacles of artistic and intellectual achievement, Rome is the Eternal City, remaining today a political capital, a religious centre, and a memorial to the creative imagination of the past. Rome’s contemporary history reflects the long-standing tension between the spiritual power of the papacy and the political power of the Italian state capital. Rome was the last city-state to become part of a unified Italy, and it did so only under duress, after the invasion of Italian troops in 1870. The pope took refuge in the Vatican thereafter. Rome was made the capital of Italy (not without protests from Florence, which had been the capital since 1865), and the new state filled the city with ministries and barracks. Yet the Catholic church continued to reject Italian authority until a compromise was reached with Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1929, when both Italy and Vatican City recognized the sovereignty of the other. Mussolini, meanwhile, created a cult of personality that challenged that of the pope himself, and his Fascist Party tried to re-create the glories of Rome’s imperial past through a massive public works program.
Mercure Roma West (Viale Eroi di Cefalonia, 301, 00128 Roma RM, Italy)