For all its ancient history, Rome is a modern and vibrant business destination.
With epithets like The Capital of the World, The Eternal City, and simply l'Urbe or The City, Rome has a lot of expectations to meet. From its history as the core of an influential empire to its modern role as home of the Vatican, Rome has always held a prominent spot on the world stage.
According to legend, Rome was founded by twins Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C. on Palantine Hill, an area that later became the site of the Forum. Through the years, the military powerhouse exerted its rule over much of Europe, becoming not only the largest city in the Western world but also the richest and most important, holding that position for almost a millennium.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city lost much of its population and its capital status, although it continued to hold a prominent position through its association with the Catholic Church. During the Middle Ages, Rome became a pilgrimage site and slowly began to increase in population. In 1871, Rome regained much of its prominence as the capital of the newly unified Italy. After the fascist years under Mussolini and the devastation of World War II - although it suffered less damage than most European capitals - the city's recovery brought about a revitalization and a respect for the Roman way of life that continues today.
Home to 2.7 million residents in the city and 5.5 million in the metropolitan area, Rome serves as national capital of Italy and the seat of the president of the Italian Republic, the Italian Parliament, and the Italian prime minister. Two sovereign entities also reside in the city: the Holy See - the political and religious body that governs Vatican City - and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a religious order evicted from Malta when it was overtaken by Napoleon.-
For all its historic ties, today's Rome is a modern and vibrant business destination. Rome remains an economic leader in Italy, a country whose economy has lately flirted with recession. Economic growth was recently downgraded by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to 0.5 percent projected for 2008 due to tighter credit and rising unemployment. However, in late May Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced measures to combat the slump, including the elimination of property tax on first homes and a reduction in levies on overtime pay.
Rome's economy is diverse not only in terms of product and sector, but also geographic location. Business is conducted not at one, but five business districts in the city. The leading center is the Esposizione Universale Roma, or EUR, a district that dates back to Mussolini's time. Located between the city center and Fiumicino airport, EUR's stark architecture contrasts with the historic buildings of downtown. Other business centers include nearby Torrino; Magliana, home to Toyota Italia; the Parco de' Medici-Laurentina and Tiburtina Valley, a hub of technology industries.
Banking has long been one of Rome's strongest economic sectors due in part to the investment power of the Vatican, and tourism remains a vital force. But its film industry is flourishing, thanks to Cinecittà Studios, the largest film and television production facility in continental Europe. Sometimes called Hollywood on the Tiber, Cinecittà has produced classics such as Ben Hur and Cleopatraas well as modern films like Gangs of New York andThe Life Aquatic. It is the only studio in the world with pre-production, production and full post-production facilities on one lot - a fact that draws moviemakers from around the globe.
Once again - when it comes to certain industries - all roads lead to Rome.