Brain food – 10 morsels about Rome

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Facts about Rome – where do you start?  Here are ten and not just to do with food.

I.        Rome at the height of its power was the first city in Europe to have to feed over a million citizens.  Much of the food had to be imported

II.      Rome was at its most powerful around two thousand years ago – from about AD 150.

III.     It  used to be a malarial city.

IV.   Rome was the largest, most cosmopolitan city in Europe until Victorian London.

V.     It was the first city in Europe to host a real mix of people from the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.

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VI.     Today the population of Rome is approximately 3,298 million.

VII.    In 2013 the number of tourists who visited the city was 12.6 million.

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VIII.   The State of the Vatican City, the world’s smallest state, is legally endorsed as another country and lies within the city of Rome.  (The Pope is the King of Vatican City which makes it one of six remaining absolute monarchies – Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Swaziland.  As it is not a democracy it cannot be a member of the European Union.)

A night view of the base of one of the granite columns in the portico of the Pantheon

A night view of the base of one of the granite columns in the portico of the Pantheon

IX.   The Pantheon, almost two thousand years old, is the most complete ancient building in Rome with a dome that is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.  The 16 granite  columns in its portico are 39 feet tall and five feet in diameter – each weighs sixty tons and was brought over from Egypt.

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X.     There is a tourist accommodation tax in Rome which has to be paid for each night spent in the city – in a campsite tourists must pay two euro per night and the rate increases up to seven euro per night in a 5-star hotel.

References include: Mary Beard’s ‘Meet the Romans’; the CIA factbook on the State of the Vatican City;  various sources on the Pantheon including the Monolithic Dome Institute and The Classics Pages – Antony Kamm’s The Romans; and the Rome tourist information website for the accommodation tax.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2014

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