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The force of Rome the lawgiver, teacher, and builder continued to radiate throughout Europe.Although the situation of the popes from the 6th to the 15th century was often precarious, Rome knew glory as the fountainhead of Christianity and eventually won back its power and wealth and reestablished itself as a place of beauty, a source of learning, and a capital of the arts.The Roman countryside, the Campagna, was one of the last areas of central Italy to be settled in antiquity.Rome was built on a defensible hill that dominated the last downstream, high-banked river crossing where traverse of the Tiber was facilitated by a midstream island.The Corso begins spectacularly with the Vittoriano (1911), the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, first king of united Italy, constructed in Brescian marble to coincide with the 50th anniversary of unification.
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.
Thereafter, the basilica’s priest was always a Venetian cardinal, sharing the palace with the Venetian embassy.
Mussolini had his headquarters in the Palazzo Venezia and harangued the crowds from the balcony from which Paul II had cheered the carnival races and given his papal benediction.
ancient Rome) 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.
Area city, 496 square miles (1,285 square km); province, 2,066 square miles (5,352 square km). (2001) city, 2,546,804; province, 3,700,424; (2007 est.) urban agglom., 3,339,000; (2012 est.) city, 2,638,842; province, 4,039,813.