The Tiber River
Rome sat on the eastern shore of the Tiber River, at the only easy crossing place between the river mouth and the mountains. Seven hills rose there out of low and marshy ground. By the beginning of the ninth century BCE, these seven hills were occupied by village communities who kept farms in the low-lying areas and retreated to their hilltops for defense.
The fording place on the river lay below a large island that was later dedicated to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius. Sometime in the sixth century BCE, the romans under the direction of their Etruscan kings built a wooden bridge over the Tiber at this point, facilitating communications between northern and southern Italy, and joining the Etrurian confederation to the Greek colonial cities in the district of Magna Graecia.
The Seven Hills
Archaeology suggests that Rome began as a confederation of villages on the seven hills of Rome: the Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Viminal, Quirinal, Esquiline, and the Caelian. The low-lying ground between them was swampy and malarial. Yet the presence of a natural fording place gave Rome some unusual advantages. Once the seven villages united, and invested the time in constructing an early wall around their territory, they could charge a toll for the use of the ford (and later the bridge). This was to prove an early source of Rome's wealth. Graves dating from the ninth and eighth centuries BCE suggest two common forms of burial in the area: cremation graves are clustered in Rome's Forum or marketplace, with a smattering of inhumations around them; a much larger cemetery lay in the valley between the Esquiline and Viminal hills.
Tradition and myth provides a much more interesting, if less likely, story of Rome's founding. One of the Vestal Virgins of the nearby town of Alba Longa had a sexual encounter with the god Mars, and bore Romulus and Remus, twin sons who catalyzed the fortification of a small urban area in what is now Rome.
Capitoline hill has deep roots in Roman history as its existence is acknowledged in the stories concerning the founding of Rome.