“Yes, I have finally arrived to this Capital of the World! I now see all the dreams of my youth coming to life… Only in Rome is it possible to understand Rome.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey (1816)

No country has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than Italy. Of Italy’s 51 WH sites, the Historic Center of Rome is perhaps the most rich. Founded by Romulus in 753 BCE, Rome developed from a small village atop the Palatine Hill, to the center of the massive Roman Empire to then the center of the Catholic world. Remnants of each of these eras are apparent and intertwined as the history of Rome comes alive for visitors.


“The manner of Roman myth-making is as precise and revealing an index of the Roman national character and the Roman’s view of himself in relationship to the rest of the world as any series of events in Roman history.” W. Donlan, The Foundation Legends of Rome

Lupa Capitolina (Photo by JW Bailly/CC BY 4.0)

The foundation of Roma is intertwined in myth and history. According to several ancient sources, the most definitive of which is Plutarch, the twins Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf. After long tribulations involving sex with gods, living in a cave, drinking she-wolf milk, thievery, battle, rape, vultures, Romulus, and eventually fratricide, Romulus founded Roma on 21 April 753 BCE.


Source: Life of Romulus by Plutarch

Roma: Colosseo Romano

John William Bailly 25 April 2022

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