By virtue of its three-thousand history, many distinctive symbols are associated with the city of Rome. One of its most emblematic e gies is the Capitoline She-Wolf, linked to Roman tradition and mythology, according to which the founder of Rome, Romulus, was suckled, together with his twin Remus, by this very animal. The she-wolf is depicted in numerous statues and images while feeding the two brothers, and the most celebrated example is located on top of a historic column that stands on the Capitoline Hill, while the ancient original resides inside the eponymous museum.
The Colosseum, a mighty Roman amphitheater built by the emperors of the Flavian dynasty, is arguably the city’s most important and well-known iconic monument—throughout the world it is immediately connected to Rome and its eternal history. As the famous saying goes, when the Colosseum falls, so too will Rome (that is, never).
The Mouth of Truth is another well-loved and recognizable symbol, along with the Trevi Fountain, with its tradition of the coin toss, which guarantees a safe return to the Eternal City. The Pantheon, the only ancient monument that has survived unscathed to our time, is considered the symbol of the indestructibility of the city, as are the Aurelian Walls.
Numerous Christian references can also be found in Roman symbolism, above all St. Peter’s Dome, which stands out unmistakably in the Roman panorama and in the world imagination. The acronym S.P.Q.R. is famous as well. Standing for “Of the Senate and People of Rome,” the phrase recalls the ancient unity between the Senate and the population. This acronym is also present in the city’s modern coat of arms, which consists of a gothic shield in red (the color of victorious Mars) bearing a Greek cross at the top left followed by the letters S.P.Q.R., both in gold, symbolizing the light of the Sun and human valor. A more prosaic curiosity: yellow and red are the official colors of the Roma soccer team, as well as the dominant colors of the buildings in the historic center. According to the painter Renzo Vespignani, an unsurpassed portraitist of the city, the color of Rome is the yellow ocher of burnt bread, not surprisingly, a synthesis between gold and red.
Ancient Rome had its own symbols of the city, such as the Rostra (the prows of the ships snatched from the enemies that were once displayed in the Forum), the Tiber Giant (an incarnation of the powerful river), and the Goddess Roma, a beautiful woman depicted in statuary, visible today in the decorations of the Vittoriano monument. In the Middle Ages, on the other hand, the city was personified as a queen, seated on the throne of the world with the phrase Roma Caput Mundi, on both banners and coins, while the lion was the medieval symbol of the Roman people.
Today, one of the most curious and ubiquitous symbols of the city are the so-called Nasoni, small cast iron fountains spouting endless fresh, clean water, which quenches the thirst of both tourists and locals alike on hot summer days, and has become an integral part of the urban landscape.