It played an important role in Earth history because it was the centre of the Roman Empire, a large empire in early human history. Amongst its main attractions were its seven hills, the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Circus Maximus. (TV: The Romans, The Fires of Pompeii, The Pandorica Opens)
The First Doctor and Susan Foreman once travelled to Rome prior to meeting Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. They visited the city broadly around the time of Jesus Christ, and the Doctor found it a "brutal and murderous place." He called it "terrible," replete with "slavery, crime in the streets, everybody stabbing everyone else in the back." He held the same views of Jerusalem and Antioch, two other ancient Earth cities which the two Gallifreyans visited together. (PROSE: Byzantium!)
Later, the First Doctor took Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, and Vicki Pallister to Rome in 64, and accidentally inspired the Great Fire of Rome. (TV: The Romans) According to his tenth incarnation, he didn't have much time for sightseeing on that particular visit. He therefore tried to return with Donna Noble, but ended up instead in Pompeii. (TV: The Fires of Pompeii)
In August 79, the Caecilius family moved to Rome after the Tenth Doctor and Donna helped them escape the destruction of Pompeii. (TV: The Fires of Pompeii) The family apparently left behind a record of their escape. In 1923, a British archaeological survey of Rome by Professor Livesy-Smythe turned up a scroll by Caecilius telling of the true fate of Pompeii. This expedition's findings alerted Torchwood Three to the existence of the Pyroviles. (Captain Jack's Monster Files)
In an alternate timeline, the Pandorica was kept in Rome for many years: first brought there in AD 120 and taken in raid by the Franks in AD 420. It came into the possession of the Knights Templar in 1120 and subsequently was given to the Vatican in 1231. (TV: The Big Bang)
Rome was among the world's major cities where forces of flying Cybermen emerged led by Missy. Taking to the skies, they created a cloud of cyber-pollen above the city. These pollen clouds would then rain upon the graves, recruiting the dead of the Earth into a new Cyberman army. When control of the Cyberman army went to the hands of the recently-converted Danny Pink, he ordered all Cybermen to return to the skies and self-destruct, taking the pollen clouds with them in their combined explosions. (TV: Death in Heaven)
Behind the scenes Edit
In 2007, Rome's Cinecittà Studios played host to production of the episode The Fires of Pompeii (CON: The Italian Job). Discounting some minor second unit work done for Daleks in Manhattan, this was the first Doctor Who adventure to be filmed outside the UK since Doctor Who in the 1990s.