What Does The Proverb 'See Rome And Die' Mean?


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Will Martin answered
The actual Italian proverb is "See Naples (Napoli) and die." The idea is that Naples has everything, and when you've visited it you have really lived life to the full; there is nothing more to experience. The saying dates from when Naples was more of a national and cultural centre in Italy than it is now. (For instance, it is close to the ancient and now-extinct city of Pompeii.) Today if we think of the "ultimate place" to visit in Italy, we might well think of Rome, as people would have done 2000 years ago; this is one reason why the saying is often misquoted as "See Rome and die."

Another reason for the mistake is that there are so many other sayings about Rome in different languages. These include "Rome wasn't built in a day," "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" and "All roads lead to Rome." So it would be natural to assume that "See it and die" applied to Rome too.

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