Rome is the capital city of Italy and Lazio, and is Italy’s largest and most populous city, with more than 2.7 million residents and a metropolitan area of almost 4 million inhabitants. It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian peninsula, on the Tiber river.
Rome stands on top of more than two and a half thousand years of history, was once the largest city in the world and a major center of Western civilization. Rome is still the seat of the Roman Catholic Church which controls the Vatican City as its sovereign territory, an enclave of Rome.
Today, Rome is a modern and cosmopolitan city and the third most-visited tourist destination in the European Union. Rome’s international airport, Fiumicino, is the largest in Italy. As one of the few major European cities that escaped World War II relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character.
Rome enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate. It is at its most comfortable from April through June, and from mid-September to October. By August, the temperature during the heat of the day often exceeds 32 °C (90 °F). The average high temperature in December is about 13 °C (57 °F), but below zero lows are not uncommon.
Tourism is inevitably one of Rome’s chief industries, with numerous notable museums including the Vatican Museum, the Borghese Gallery, and the Musei Capitolini.
Rome is at the centre of the radial network of roads which roughly follow the lines of the ancient roman roads that began at the Capitoline Hill and connected Rome with its empire. Today Rome is circled, at a distance of about 10km, by the ring-road called the Grande Raccordo Anulare.
Rome suffers from considerable traffic problems largely due to this largely radial street pattern which make it difficult for Romans to easily move from the vicinity of one the radial roads to another without going into the historic centre or using the ring-road. Problems which are not helped by limited size of Rome’s metro system when compared to similarly sized cities. Chronic congestion caused by cars during the 1970s and 1980s led to restrictions being placed on vehicle access to the inner city centre during the daylight hours.
Rome has 21 taxis for every 10,000 inhabitants – far below other major European cities.
Due to its location in the centre of the Italian peninsula, Rome is a principle railway node for central Italy. Rome main train station, Termini is one of the biggest train stations in Europe and the most trafficed in Italy with around 400 thousand daily travellers. The second largest station in the city, Roma Tiburtina, is currently being redeveloped as high-speed rail terminus.. Other significant main line station are Roma Ostiense, Roma Trastevere and Roma Tuscolana.
Above ground public transport in Rome is made up of a bus and tram network. This network is run by Trambus S.p.A. under the auspices of ATAC S.p.A. (which originally stood for the Bus and Tram Agency of the Comune, Azienda Tranvie ed Autobus del Comune in Italian). The bus network is currently made up of in excess of 350 bus lines and over 8 thousand bus stops. Whilst the limited tram system currently has 39 km of track and 192 stops.
A 2-line metro system operates in Rome. Called the Metropolitana. Construction on the first branch started in the 1930s. The line was finally opened in 1955 and it is now part of the B Line. The A line opened in 1980 from Ottaviano to Anagnina stations, later extended in stages (1999 – 2000) to Battistini. In the 1990s, an extension of the B line was opened from Termini to Rebibbia. This underground network is generally reliable (although it may become very congested at peak times and during events, especially the A line) as it is relatively short. As of 2005, its total length is 38 km (24 mi). The two existing lines, A & B, intersect at Roma Termini station. A new branch of the B line (B1) is under construction. It is scheduled to open in 2010. B1 will connect to line B at Piazza Bologna and will have 4 stations over a distance of 3.9 km (2 mi).
A third line, line C, is under construction and will have 30 stations over a distance of 25.5 km (16 mi). It will partly replace the existing Rail Road line, Termini-Pantano. It will feature full automated, driverless trains. The first section is due to open in 2011 and the final sections in 2015.
A fourth line, line D, is under development. It will have 22 stations over a distance of 20 km (12 mi). The first section is projected to open in 2015 and the final sections before 2035.