A capital of kingdoms and of republics and of an empire the armies and polity of which defined the Western world in antiquity and left seemingly indelible imprints thereafter, a city called eternal, as the spiritual and physical centre of the Roman Catholic Church, and a city whose name evokes major pinnacles of artistic and intellectual achievement, Rome has retained all of these attributes: the capital of Italy, a font of religious authority, and a memorial to the creative imagination of the past. Probably more than any other city in the West, possibly more than any other in the world, it is a city whose history continues to shape nearly every aspect of its being but, at the same time, whose contemporary consciousness of that history projects it into the very core of modern life.
For well over a millennium, Rome controlled the destiny of all civilization known to Europe, then fell into dissolution and disrepair. Physically mutilated, economically paralyzed, politically senile, and militarily impotent by the late Middle Ages, Rome nevertheless remained a world power—as an idea. The force of Rome the lawgiver, teacher, and builder continued to radiate throughout Europe. Although the situation of the popes from the 6th to the 15th century was often precarious—at times tragic, ridiculous, or shameful—Rome knew glory as the fountainhead of Christianity and eventually won back its power and wealth and reestablished itself as a place of beauty, a source of learning, and a capital of the arts.
Rome’s hot, dry summer days, with temperatures often above 75° F (24° C), are frequently cooled in the afternoons by the ponentino, a west wind that rises from the Tyrrhenian Sea 15 miles away. The city receives about 33 inches (840 millimetres) of precipitation annually; spring and autumn are the rainiest seasons. Frosts and occasional light snowfalls punctuate the otherwise mild winters, when temperatures average about 45° F (7° C). The tramontana, a stormy wind from the north, frequents the city in the winter. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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