Rome’s fertile landscape made it the ideal place for a city to develop and has had a profound impact on its history. Though the city has changed immensely over the years, surviving everything from barbarian attacks to world wars, its natural, physical landscape has remained virtually unchanged. Ancient Romans believed the gods themselves chose the site that would become the most powerful city in the ancient world. This land, which today comprises the city of Rome, Italy, was perhaps always destined for greatness.
Rome was founded on a group of seven hills in what is now known as the Lazio region of Central Italy. The city straddles the Tiber River, which divides the city into east and west halves. The Aniene River also intersects the Tiber just north of the main city center. The city of Rome was built inland but its territory really extends to the Tyrrhenian Sea and the port area of Ostia. Rome lies at an altitude as low as 43 feet and as high as 456 feet above sea level.
Italy’s unusual topography effectively provided a cradle and protector for the ancient city of Rome. To the north, the Italian Peninsula is protected by the European Alps, which are virtually impassible during the winter months. The Apennine Mountains to the east also protected the city from attack during the age of empire. The famous seven hills on which Rome was founded (the Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Quirinal and Viminal) are actually not very pronounced though they did play a role in the original layout of the city. Palatine Hill was the original site of the city due to its defensibility and positioning near an island that facilitated crossing the Tiber River.
Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, Rome enjoys a mild, warm climate though temperatures can be unbearably high during the summer. The city experiences the most pleasant weather during the spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November). Rome receives very light precipitation in the summer and is therefore particularly prone to drought.
The city layout of Rome reflects its long, complicated history beginning with ancient times. The heart of modern Rome is east of the Tiber River, while the Vatican, Janiculum Hill, and the neighborhood of Trastevere are on the west bank. Over 25 bridges connect the two sides of the city. Most of daily life in Rome is centered around the piazzas, public squares in which Romans have gathered for centuries. These squares often contain impressive sculptures and fountains from various epochs. Villa Borghese is the city’s main park, containing 148 acres of attractive landscape.
Flora and Fauna
Rome is an entirely urban city where you won’t find any wild fauna running around. There is, however, a rich population of flora concentrated in the city's lovely parks and gardens. Both the Borghese and Vatican Gardens are home to impressive rose gardens and stately oak trees. These parks are carefully groomed and were designed as places of rest and relaxation for the citizens of Rome.