Rome grew from a group of small villages on the Italian Peninsula along the Tiber River. Serveral founding myths decribe the city's beginnings.
Following a period of rule by the Etruscans, the Roman Republic was established. Over time, power struggles between upper and lower class citizens, moved Rome toward a more democratic government. This democracy had three branches. The Roman constitution and other later reforms helped citizens gain additional rights.
http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/European_Geography.htm - Click on Rome
Additional Rome Booklist
http://www.abookintime.com/ancients/rome.html - Scroll down to Rome