Interesting Facts You Never Know About Rome

We all know about the Roman Colosseum, St. Peters Basilica and Pizza. With a history that goes back to before the 8th century B.C. there is bound to be some very interesting facts we never knew. That’s half the fun of visiting the “Eternal City” of Rome, going out to explore and somewhat re-live some of its ancient past and sights. You may not see men running around in toga’s these days but the romance is definitely there.


A view of Capitoline Hill from the Roman Forum in Rome Italy

A view of Capitoline Hill from the Roman Forum


Here are a few of my favorite facts about Rome:

1. Did you know that the Sistine Chapel was a copy of another famous ancient building? The dimensions were taken from the specifications of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.


Sistine Chapel in Rome Italy

A look down at the Sistine Chapel.


Inside the Sistine Chapel in Rome

Michelangelo at his best! What’s really funny is he really did not want to paint the Sistine Chapel. In fact so much so he wrote a poem about how much he hated this job!

2. Rome’s La Sapienza University is the largest in Europe and second largest in the world. It was also the first higher education in Rome since 1303 A.D.

3. Rome’s most famous fountain was built at the intersection of 3 Roman roads. Originally named Tre-Vie interpreted as 3 Street Fountain, Trevi Fountain brings in up to €700,000 a year and is donated to “Critas” a Catholic Charity who helps needy families in Rome. Throw a coin in the fountain and help out the Roman’s!


Trevi Fountain in Rome Italy

Trevi Fountain has done a lot of good for the needy in Rome

4. Here is a reason to travel to Rome in April! On the 21st day of the month each year at Campidoglio’s Tower on Capitoline Hill a historic bell called Patarina rings to celebrate the founding of Rome.


The Palazzo Senatorio where you can hear the Patarina Bell ringing.

The Palazzo Senatorio where you can hear the Patarina Bell ringing.
Photo credit: gichristof / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


5. If you love animals you are going to love this little fact. Rome has a law which allows locally born cats to live without disruption. The best place to see this is in the Roman Forum that leads to the Colosseum. Bet you won’t see a mouse in sight there!

6. Do you know where the name “Cappuccino” came from? If you thought Rome you are correct. The delicious hot beverage was named after the Capuchin Crypt where 4000 monks are buried. Named after the hoods they would wear to dress up the monk robes called Cappucio.


Capuchin Crypt in Rome Italy

The famous hoodies!

7. That’s a lot of churches! Rome has more than 900 churches and almost 300 fountains.


Bernini's Fontana del Tritone in Rome Italy

Fontana del Tritone, Bernini’s first attempt an creating a fountain. Not bad!


Santa Maria Church in Trastevere, Rome Italy

Santa Maria Church in Trastevere. Legend has it, a miraculous oil font spouted here on the day Christ was born.

8. Fashionista’s in ancient Rome? So much so that Emperor Trajan built a multi-level shopping mall called Trajan’s Market. At one time it had over 150 stores including designer clothes, jewelry, fast food and a mass of people who visited each year. I guess things have not changed much in a couple thousand years!


The ruins of Trajan's Market in Rome Italy

What’s left of Trajan’s Market. It must have been impressive during its heyday.

9. Now this is a palatial fact you probably never heard of. The word “Palace” came from Rome. Starting with Palantine Hill where Augustus was the first to build a palace there.


Looking onto Palantine Hill from the Circus Maximus in Rome Italy

Looking at Palantine Hill from the Circus Maximus. Imagine the royals looking out onto the race from their palatial porch. Life was good!

10. Even Rome has an underground city. Underneath St. Peter’s Basilica has the “City of the Dead” that you can visit during certain times. If you want to walk around the tombs of Pope’s of the past and even an Apostle its worth the couple Euro’s to see it.


The crypt of St. Peter is full of the richness of the world. I wonder what Peter would have thought of that?

The crypt of St. Peter is full of the richness of the world. I wonder what Peter would have thought of that?

11. When Emperor Marcus Agrippa built the Pantheon it was the tallest building in Rome. In fact even today its taller than St. Peter’s Basilica. Another interesting fact about Agrippa, he was so superstitious that he always put his right shoe on before the left. The reason why? The word left in Latin means “sinister” which translates to “unlucky”.


The Pantheon in Rome Italy

The Pantheon, very impressive for its time.

12. Need a place to rest your head? Rome is the place with more hotels in the city than any place else in Europe.

13. If you thought paparazzi means photographers who love to document the rich and famous through their cameras…. WRONG! Paparazzi means “buzzing mosquitoes”.

14. Hard to believe but the Colosseum wasn’t built in a day. It actually took 9 years using over 60,000 slaves. Was the Colosseum built for Gladiator fights? Not originally, it was built to entertain the Roman’s with music, dance and plays. It also was a showcase to bring attention to the talented architects of Rome.


The Roman Colosium in Rome Italy

A stunning sight even for todays standards. I give this very high marks for a “Wow!” factor when you first see it

15. Who would have thought that clothes would be so important to ruling emperors? For instance, Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus loved his Gallic tunic so much he was nicknamed after it Caracalla. Originally they were to name the baths Thermal Antoninianae along the way Caracalla seems to have stuck. Another interesting yet sinister note about the baths: Marcus Aurelius somewhat jealous of his adored brother Geta, that when he went against him by allowing immigrants free citizenship he mysteriously died in the baths.


  1. I love your take on Rome! I am from Rome (although now I live abroad) and it’s always fun to read about home: some of these facts I didn’t even know – it really goes to show it takes more than one lifetime to discover all Rome can offer. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. I didn’t know a lot of these! Pretty interesting. Some of my favorite fountains are actually the Nosoni, or noses, that are the drinking fountains all across the city. Delicious fresh water is available everywhere in Rome from these.

  3. Enjoyed this very much! The photos bring back happy memories and it’s always good to learn something new!!

  4. I did not know any of these thanks for sharing!

  5. Aaah it’s so great to read some new things about Rome for one! Good article, I learned plenty of things!

  6. Interesting article, I really didn’t know much about Rome

  7. Great facts about Rome. I didn’t know any of these. I never take the time to read guidebooks, so I end up missing out on a lot of facts like this. Thanks!

    • I’m so glad you were able to read these! I would probably be the same way except for getting bored on flights. That’s where guidebooks get undivided attention. Amazing what you can learn from them!

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