Rome, city, capital of italy and of Latium Region and Rome Province, on the Tiber R., in the central part of the country near the Tyrrhenian Sea.Vatican City, most of which is located in an enclave withing Rome, is the seat of the Roman Catholic church and has been recognized as an independent state by the Italian government since 1929. The majestic dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City dominates the Roman skyline. For centuries, Rome has been called the Eternal City, a title earned through it's importance as one of the greatest cities of the Western civilization. Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years while mythology dates the founding of Rome at only around 753 B.C. Pompeii once a thriving and sophisticated Roman City, Pompeii was buried in meters of ash and pumice after the devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Rome's complex political institutions began to crumble under the weight of the growing empire, ushering in a era of internal turmoil and violence. The gap between rich and poor widened as wealthy landowners drove small farmers out from public land.