Unlike the modern European capitals that I’ve visited in the past such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Kiev, Riga, etc., I like to think of Rome as being the first capital of the world. During the ancient times, the Roman Empire stretched wide and far encompassing the Mediterranean Sea as its very own inland salt water lake while dominating the majority of Europe which even at that time, people thought that the Romans had conquered the known world. The Romans, in the absence of modern technology such as the computer, automobile, phone lines, internet, etc., have impressively been able to expand that far and wide which put today’s world onto its current status as of now due to its historical legacies which are still seen today with the code of laws, philosophy, culture, and of course, language that still have some Roman-ness to them.
The biggest of all has to be the language that the Romans gave to the world, Vulgar Latin. The vast majority of all European languages utilize the Latin script and alphabets which later evolved into languages such as English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, etc. With the world slowly turning more and more into English as the global lingua franca, it’s apparent that the Romans have produced such legacy language gifts to its descendants. Thus the saying that “All roads lead to Rome” was very much true in those days as all the best leaders, soldiers, traders, business people, sailors, citizens, etc. formed this grand empire with Rome in the middle of it. To me, in today’s world, London is the only other city that comes close to being a world capital since the British Empire stretched across the globe and the fact that it’s such a modern economical and political city at the world stage.
However, Rome, due to being the first major empire to emerge out of the ancient world and with all of its glory, the city gets the nod as being the first capital of the world since some of the European capitals of today that I’ve visited fell under the rule of the Roman Empire: Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, Athens, Brussels, and more. Even the places that I visited that were outside of Europe: Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan were all under Roman rule at one point as well. Hell, even London (which I consider as another former world capital) was under Roman rule at one point which shows what kind of legacy the Roman Empire had on Europe and the rest of the world.
There is so much stuff to see in Rome that it’s very difficult to cover it all within one day or even two days, three days. You almost need a week or so to see it all because of the large amounts of history that flowed through this grand city that used to house an empire’s capital which oversaw the entire Mediterranean Sea basin being dominated by Romans at one point. The Romans are still the only empire or country that controlled all of the Mediterranean throughout history. There are many attractions in Rome which are the must-sees since they date back to the old Roman Empire days.
However, I think it’s best to get a physical map of Rome and then plan out your visit of the city. Another idea is to get a tour guide to show you around the city. But there are a lot of hidden treasures in Rome particularly those that were in relation to the Pope or Papal States or to the Christian faith having been a presence in the Rome for many, many years.
And even outside of the Roman and religious sites, there are others that go along with the grandeur of things to make the city exciting to go see and experience.
Tip: Knowing Spanish and French can assist in communicating with the Italians but don’t ever think that you can completely rely on just those two languages because it’s not like what it was during the old Roman times when Vulgar Latin, the lingua franca back then, was spoken everywhere within the Roman Empire. All the Romance Languages have evolved so far from each other over time that the languages are not completely interchangeable despite a lot of words and verbs being the same or quite similar to each other. Still, I’ve found out that knowing Spanish and French does help when the locals don’t speak English – that alone can help bridge the communication gaps.
Tip: If you visit during the summer, get prepared to combat the onslaught of your fellow tourist hordes. Summer and the Christmas-Winter Break are the high seasons meaning that it could get shoulder-to-shoulder with people so be prepared. In addition, it’s going to be hot, sweaty and humid so know what you are getting yourself into.