— Rome is a wonderful holiday destination. It’s the cradle of Western civilisation and it’s Italy’s great capital. But here are 19 weird, wacky and totally surprising facts about the city of Rome that you probably didn’t know about.
1) Rome has over 900 church buildings and more than 200 fountains, making it an architectural treasure for anyone visiting the city.
2) Over 3,000 Euros are collected from the bottom of the Trevi Fountain basin at the end of each night. All of the money is donated to Catholic charity, Caritas.
3) Despite being known as the cradle of Western civilisation, Rome only became the capital of unified Italy in 1870 when it took the title from Florence.
4) The Roman mascot is a she-wolf; legend has it that the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were taken in by the she-wolf after being abandoned as babies by their uncle. Today, the she-wolf poses as the city’s proud mascot.
5) In Ancient Rome, the colour purple was considered to be the colour of royalty; only emperors could wear this colour and it was considered treason for anyone else to do so.
6) The human blood of gladiators was often used in Ancient times as a cure for various ailments, including infertility and epilepsy. It was highly recommended by physicians.
7) In the past, phalluses were considered to be good luck charms. They were worn on necklaces or hung by doorways to ward off evil.
8) In 50 BC, Rome became the first ever city to have a population of 1 million people. This vast population count wasn’t beaten until the 19th Century when London underwent an industrial revolution.
9) The Pantheon (built in 27 BC) is the city’s only ancient monument to still be intact. It also holdsthe tomb to King Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I.
10) The Colosseum could seat up to 50,000 people if it were in use today. This incredible historic monument is also found on the 5 cent Euro coin in Italy.
11) Another name for Rome is “The Eternal City” or “Caput Mundi” (in Latin) and this translates as “The Capital of the World”.
12) Concrete was a Roman invention and it was first used by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.
13) Rome currently has a law which allows cats to live undisturbed in their birthplace, which explains the high number of wild cats in and around the city.
14) The Italians have always had a taste for shopping and fashion; the first ever shopping mall was built around 110 AD in the city of Rome.
15) The Vatican is technically a country in its own right, making it the smallest country in the world.
16) The Passetto di Borgo was built as an escape route from The Vatican, and it was used by many popes to escape to the Castel Sant’Angelo.
17) Even though the Ancient Romans were extremely hygienic, it is said that they did not use soap to clean themselves. Perfumed oils were applied to their skin to make them smell fresh and a tool known as a “strigil” was used to scrape off excess oil.
18) In Ancient Rome, hair dyeing was extremely popular amongst women. Dyes were made from beech wood ashes, henna, saffron and bleach.
19) The word “palace” is derived from Rome, taken from the name “Palatine Hill”, where the tradition of palace buildings was first established.