Terry Foreman • Link
Rome (Italian: Roma) is a city and special comune ("Roma Capitale") in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.
It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BCE until the 7th century CE and the city is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. Since the 1st century CE Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. After the Middle Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence.
The latter half of the 15th century saw the seat of the Italian Renaissance move to Rome from Florence. The Papacy wanted to equal and surpass the grandeur of other Italian cities and to this end created ever more extravagant churches, bridges, town squares and public spaces, including a new Saint Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Ponte Sisto (the first bridge to be built across the Tiber since antiquity), and Piazza Navona. The Popes were also patrons of the arts engaging such artists as Michelangelo, Perugino, Raphael, Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, Botticelli, and Cosimo Rosselli.
The period was also infamous for papal corruption, with many Popes fathering children, and engaging in nepotism and simony. The corruption of the Popes and the extravagance of their building projects led, in part, to the Reformation and, in turn, the Counter-Reformation.
Beginning with the Council of Trent in 1545, the Church began the Counter-Reformation as an answer to the Reformation, a large-scale questioning of the Church's authority on spiritual matters and governmental affairs. (This loss of confidence then lead to major shifts of power away from the Church.) Under the popes from Pius IV to Sixtus V, Rome became the center of the reformed Catholicism and saw the installment of new monuments which celebrated the papacy's restored greatness. The popes and cardinals of the 17th and early 18th centuries continued the movement by having city's landscape enriched with baroque buildings. During the Age of Enlightenment, new ideas reached also the Eternal City, where the papacy supported archeological studies and improved the people's welfare. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome,_Italy
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