Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Rome – a city of seven hills

The number seven pops up a lot in Italian culture. It’s the most used number in the Bible, is sometimes used to symbolize completeness (if you believe the Earth was made in seven days), there are seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church and Rome had seven kings.

Rome itself began life as seven individual communities, each sat on top of a hill. According to legend, the original settlement called Rome was founded by the first king, Romulus, in 753 BC on Palatine Hill.

There was much conflict between neighboring Italian settlements, but residents of the seven hills led a relatively peaceful life, often venturing down from the safety of their hills to socialize and play games, forming a strong connection. Between the hills were marshlands, offering good defenses. But once alliances were forged, these were drained and the communities began to live as one, the foundation of modern Rome. A strong wall was built around the city, known as the Servian Wall, parts of which still stand.

Today, many of Rome’s most important institutions stand upon these seven hills. The Quirinal Hill is home to of the President of the Italian Republic at Palazzo del Quirinale and the Ministry of the Interior stands on the smallest hill, Viminal. Perhaps most magnificent of all was the citadel which stood on Capitolino Hill. Known simply as Capitoline, the mighty fortress is the origin of the word ‘Capital’ when used to refer to the most important city in a country. Now, Capitolino Hill boasts grand Medieval and Renaissance Palaces, where you’ll find the seat of the Municipality of Rome,
some fascinating museums and a plaza designed by Michelangelo.

The seven hills have changed a lot over the last few hundred years, after all, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.