Note on future of small group tours in Rome

We at Real Rome Tours have always based our mission on bringing the very best quality to you, at the lowest possible price.

To achieve this, we asked you what you wanted, and have always delivered on our promises to bring to you what is most important:

  • A quality tour guide, who speaks perfect English and is not only knowledgeable, but also friendly and funny.
  • A skip the line service, so that none of your tour time is wasted.
  • Quality radios, so that you can take photographs and stray from your guide without missing out on his commentary.
  • Small Groups – maximum 13 people – so that you can enjoy the tour and interact with your guide and with others in your group, instead of feeling like part of a herd.

However, the future of small group tours in Rome is now under serious threat.

The powers-that-be in Rome, are unfortunately the same as in any other capitalist country across the world, and are interested only in your money. They do not like small-group companies, as they want tour operators to bring people in large groups of at least 50, in to their museums and other tourist attractions, herd them through, get their money, and get them out.

The latest attack on companies offering small group tours in Rome has come from Coopculture, the company which currently holds the rights for selling and organising the tickets to the Colosseum. From July 1st, if we wish to use the fast-track entrance which is available only to tour operators, we must purchase 14 adult tickets in advance. This applies even if people book a private tour with us – even if it is only for 2 people we have to pay for 14 entrance tickets. Otherwise, we can still purchase our tickets in advance and skip the normal ticket line, but we do not avail of the instant entrance that the group entrance arch unless we pay them over the odds.

Although we are not giving up the fight, this makes it very difficult to maintain the four pillars above, upon which we have based our reputation since 2007. At present, our prices remain at the same levels as 2016, but it will be very difficult to continue to offer group tours at our current prices unless we consistently fill our groups to our self-imposed maximum of 13 people. If our groups are regularly less than this, we will either have to raise prices to pay for the extra, unused tickets, or we will have to purchase the correct number of tickets for our groups and lose the fastest entry to the Colosseum.

For now, we have not made any changes to our group sizes or to our prices, and we remain hopeful that we will reach our full group size of 13 people regularly enough in the summertime so that we can continue to offer you the best quality tour while keeping prices as low as possible.

If you wish to book the Ancient Rome & Colosseum tour and keep the small-group tour a reality, you can do so by clicking on the link below:

Roman Aqueduct Found During Metro C Works

A 2,300-year-old aqueduct uncovered by workers on Rome’s new Metro line has been hailed as “a sensational discovery of enormous importance” by the city’s Superintendency for Archaeology.

Archaeologists first stumbled across the impressive ruin at the end of 2016, though it was not publicly announced. Last week the team presented the results of analysis of the structure, along with that of other recent finds, at a conference hosted by Rome’s Sapienza university.
Simona Morretta, who led the team of archaeologists, said the 32-metre stretch was likely part of the Aqua Appia – the oldest known Roman aqueduct, which dates back to 312 BC.

It measures two metres tall, and is made up of equally-sized blocks arranged in five rows. As for location, it lies 17-18 metres below Rome’s Piazza Celimontana, slightly to the south-east of the Colosseum in the historical centre.

“It was thanks to the concrete bulkheads used for work on the metro that we could get down to that level,” explained Morretta.


Roman Aqueduct Found During Rome’s Metro C Works
Roman Aqueduct Found During Rome’s Metro C Works

“The opportunity to safely reach this depth allowed us to uncover and document an exception sequence of stratigraphy and structures from the Iron Age (tombs and grave objects from the tenth century BC) to the modern age (foundations of 19th-century housing”.

Because the structure was buried under intact layers of earth, the team was able to work out that after falling out of use as an aqueduct, Romans living in the first century BC used it as a sewer.

What’s more, close examination of the earth revealed the remains of food leftovers, offering an insight into what Romans used to eat, and the animals they kept as pets – from wild boars to swans, pheasants, and large seawater fish.

“For now, the work has been dismantled and partially relocated, and will be replaced in the future in a venue which has not yet been identified,” the Superintendency said.

The aqueduct has been partially dismantled and rebuilt, ready to be put on display to the public in an as yet undecided venue, since its current location is too far underground to allow for visitors.

Work on the capital’s Metro line C has been repeatedly delayed, both by lack of money and by workers coming across centuries-old ruins.

April 8th: Emperor Caracalla is Murdered

Emperor Caracalla is Murdered

Suffering from dysentery while leading his army to Carrhae in Parthia (modern Iran), Emperor Caracalla stepped behind some shrubs to relieve himself. Julius Martialis, an officer in the imperial bodyguard, killed him with a single thrust of his sword. At last Rome was free of one of its most bloodthirsty emperors. A tyrant who had commanded mass slaughter in Germany and Alexandria, as well as murdering his own wife and brother.

The son of Emperor Septimius Severus, Caracalla had been born in Lugdunum (today’s Lyon) in AD188 with the original name of Septimius Bassianus.

According to the Roman historian Cassius Dio, his nickname came from a costume he invented – an ankle-length version of the Gallic caracallus, a short , close-fitting cloak with a hood.

When Caracalla was only ten, Septimius Severus made him and his younger brother Geta joint emperors. He intended to prepare them for shared authority when he should die. But, as Gibbon puts it, ‘The fond hopes of the father, and of the Roman world, were soon disappointed by these vain youths, who displayed the indolent security of hereditary princes and a presumption that fortune would supply the place of merit and application.’ The brothers hated each other, and over the next thirteen years each was committed to the other’s destruction. So bitter was their rivalry that each tried, unsuccessfully, to poison the other.

When Septimius Severus lay dying in 211, he counselled his sons: ‘Be united, enrich the soldiers, despise all others.’

Caracalla followed the last two of these directives but energetically rejected the first, immediately starting to plan Geta’s demise.

The next year he killed his brother with his own hands. Geta was cowering in their mother’s arms in the imperial palace. Caracalla then threw himself under the protection of the Praetorian Guard. He informed a powerless Senate that he had murdered in self-defence.

Now sole dictator, Caracalla melted down the coinage that displayed his brother’s features and then ordered the massacre of some 20,000 Romans whom he suspected of having supported him. People were killed in the streets, at the public baths and even in their own homes. Included in the slaughter was his own wife Publia Fulvia Plautilla, whom he had previously exiled.

Caracalla now became obsessed with Alexander the Great. He adopted what he thought were Alexander’s dress and weapons. He added a corps of elephants to his army. Appending the descriptor ‘Magnus’ (Great) to his own name, in 216 he set out to conquer Parthia as Alexander had done half a millennium before.

All the while Caracalla was becoming increasingly megalomaniacal. He issued new coins that portrayed himself as a god, claiming to be the son of the Egyptian deity Sarapis. He was the only Roman emperor to commission a statue of himself dressed as a pharaoh. But Caracalla’s delusions of grandeur were matched by his growing paranoia. He suffered from threatening nightmares. His dead father and brother pursued him, armed with swords, and, a few days before his murder. He dreamt that his father came to him, saying, ‘As you killed your brother, so will I slay you.’

The reasons why Caracalla was murdered remain debated.

Some maintain that his assassin, Julius Martialis, acted in revenge.  The emperor had ordered the execution of his brother a few days before. Cassius Dio, however, insists that Martialis’ motive was more mundane: Caracalla had refused to promote him to centurion. Finally, Herodian makes the more likely claim that the commander of the Praetorian Guard, Marcus Opellius Macrinus, instigated the killing in order to take over the empire. (Macrinus did, in fact, become the next emperor, and, perhaps as a belated apology, agreed to Caracalla’s deification, but only fifteen months later he was overthrown and executed.)

In spite of the evil that Caracalla wrought in his lifetime, he left us one immense and beautiful memorial, the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Originally designed to accommodate 1,600 bathers. Now where, on a summer evening, you can hear the triumphant arias of Verdi and Puccini during spectacular performances of open-air opera.


Baths of Caracalla

Easter Church Services in English in Rome

English-language religious services in Rome during Easter Week.


13 April. Holy Thursday. Chrism Mass, Vatican Basilica, 09.30.

14 April. Good Friday. Papal Mass, Vatican Basilica 17.00, Way of the Cross, Colosseum 21.15.

15 April. Holy Saturday. Easter Vigil, Vatican Basilica 20.30.

16 April. Easter Sunday Mass, St Peter’s Square 10.15. Urbi et Orbi blessing 12.00.

Please note that tickets (free of charge) are required for all ceremonies listed above, except the Way of the Cross and Urbi et Orbi. For information contact the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, tel. 0669884857 or see website.


All Saints’ Anglican Church, Via del Babuino 153/b, tel. 0636001881.

16 April. Easter pre-dawn Eucharist 05.30. Easter ceremony 10.30.

Ponte S. Angelo Methodist Church, Piazza Ponte S. Angelo 68, tel. 0668768314.

16 April. Easter Sunday 10.30.

Pontifical Irish College (Roman Catholic), Via dei SS. Quattro 1, tel. 06772631.

13 April. Holy Thursday 18.00.
14 April. Good Friday 15.00.
15 April. Easter Vigil 21.00
16 April. Easter Sunday 10.00.

Rome Baptist Church, S. Lorenzo in Lucina 35, tel. 066876652.

13 April. Maundy Thursday 19.00.
14 April. Church open 06.00-18.00 for personal prayer.
16 April. Sunrise Service at Pincio 07.00. Easter Resurrection Service 10.30.

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Via XX Settembre 7, tel. 064827627.

13 April. Maundy Thursday Communion and supper 18.30.
16 April. Easter Sunday worship 11.00.

St Isidore’s College (Roman Catholic), Via degli Artisti 41, tel. 064885359.

16 April. Easter Sunday 10.00.

St Francis Xavier del Caravita (Roman Catholic), Via della Caravita 7.

13 April. Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Footwashing 18.00.
14 April. Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion 15.00.
15 April. Great Vigil of Easter 20.30.
27 April. Easter Sunday 11.00.

St Patrick’s (Roman Catholic), Via Buoncompagni 31, tel. 0642903787.

13 April. Holy Thursday 19.00.
14 April. Good Friday 17.00.
15 April. Holy Saturday 19.00.
16 April. Easter Sunday 10.00.

St Paul’s Within-the-Walls (Episcopal), Via Nazionale, corner Via Napoli 58, tel. 064883339.

13 April. Maundy Thursday 19.00.
14 April. Good Friday 19.00.
15 April. Easter Vigil 20.00.
16 April. Holy Eucharist 10.30.

S. Silvestro in Capite (Roman Catholic), Piazza S. Silvestro 1, tel. 066797775.

13 April. Holy Thursday 17.00.
14 April. Good Friday Liturgy 17.00.
15 April. Easter Vigil 20.00.
16 April. Easter Sunday 10.00, 17.30.

S. Susanna American Church (Roman Catholic), Via XX Settembre 15, tel. 0642014554.

Due to temporary closure, the Holy Week services are celebrated at the nearby Basilica di S. Camillo de Lellis, except for the 09.00 Easter Sunday Mass at the Basilica di S. Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, also nearby.

13 April. Holy Thursday 17.30.
14 April. Good Friday 19.00.
15 April. Easter Vigil 19.30.
16 April. Easter Sunday 09.00, 10.00.

Venerable English College (Roman Catholic), Via di Monserrato 45, tel. 066868546.

13 April. Mass of the Lord’s Supper. 19.30.
14 April. Solemn Celebration of the Passion 15.00.
15 April. Easter Vigil 21.30.
16 April. Easter Sunday 10.00.

Nuns hold the cross during a station of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday, in Rome, Friday, April 3, 2015. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

Roman Artichokes – Delicious Recipe!

If you have walked through any of Rome’s markets recently you can’t have missed the piles of gleaming, purple-green artichokes which seem to be around every corner. A staple of Roman cuisine, carciofi romaneschi (Roman artichokes) hit their peak in the spring when they are at their absolute tastiest (and cheapest).

The locally-grown mammole variety do not have the spiky choke which usually needs to be removed, saving on preparation time and making them the perfect choice to make these deliciously tender Roman-style braised artichokes which are gently infused with lots of garlic, parsley and mentuccia (the local wild mint). If you cannot find mammole you can still prepare the recipe as outlined below but make sure to remove the choke.

Although you can trim the artichokes yourself, you can also take advantage of the fact that most market stalls will clean them for a small extra fee. This recipe is perfect as a side dish as an accompaniment to roasted meat. It could also be served as an antipasto with lots of crusty bread to soak up the oily, garlicky juices.

4 artichokes
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
16 leaves of mentuccia (wild mint)
1 small bunch of parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Dry white wine

To prepare the artichokes, remove the hard exterior leaves, trim and remove the outer layer of the stalk (leaving about 5 cm length). Then cut about the top quarter off the head and continue to strip the leaves until just the tender, pale yellow ones remain. Remove the spiky choke if necessary.

Cut the lemon in half and rub the artichokes with lemon juice to stop them turning black. Then fill a large bowl with cold water, squeeze in the lemon juice and add the rinds. Put the artichokes in the lemon water and leave for 15 minutes.

Drain the artichokes and lightly bang them onto a surface to open up the leaves. Use your fingers to make space in the centre or cut out the choke with a knife. Season the centre well with salt. Wrap half a garlic clove in about four leaves of mint and a few leaves of parsley.

Stuff the garlic and herbs into the centre of the artichoke.

Stand the artichokes stalk side up in a saucepan. Then cover with equal parts of olive oil, white wine and water until everything except the stalk is covered. Cover, bring to the boil then cook on a medium flame for about an hour until tender. Check the artichokes are ready by inserting a toothpick into the base of the stalk – if it comes away easily they are ready to serve.

Serve hot or just warm, with extra bread to soak up the sauce.

Kate Zagorski

You can now stroll in Emperor Nero’s Garden with a Virtual Reality Tour

It’s a breathtaking view and you can almost smell the lavender: visitors to Rome can now stroll through Emperor Nero’s Golden House and sumptuous gardens thanks to a new virtual tour.
Only a section remains of the vast landscaped palace which once stood in the middle of the ancient city, its walls decorated with gold-leaf, ivory and gemstones, among gardens boasting vineyards, pastures, woods and an artificial lake.

Visitor look around one of the rooms of of the Domus Aurea, a large palace built by the Roman Emperor Nero in the first century, during a exhibition for the press about the new visit whit a viewer bioculare to high technology 3D’s sistem, in central Rome on March 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO

Treasures looted in Eastern cities were displayed in the complex of porticoes and rooms built by Nero after the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D. had razed the aristocratic dwellings in the area.

On his death, Nero’s successors did not take long to scrap the palace, building the Colosseum for gladiator battles on his ornamental lake in 70 AD, filling the Golden House with earth, and erecting the Baths of Trajan on top in 109 AD.

The complex was lost for centuries, before being rediscovered in the Renaissance by accident and becoming a must-see for artists from Raphael to Michelangelo, who were lowered into one of the rooms by a window in the ceiling to study the frescoes by candlelight.

Strapping on virtual reality headsets, visitors can now see that room as it was when it was filled near to the roof with earth and as it would have looked in Nero’s time, its marble walls gleaming in the sunlight.

“It’s called the Domus Aurea (Golden House) not only for the gold leaf in the frescoes but because it was designed so that the rays of the sun would bounce off the marble and waterfalls to glimmer like jewels,” architect Gabriella Strano said on Wednesday.

The viewer steps, virtually, past the columns and into the garden, crossing lavender beds and the lawn to look out across Rome.

Visitors, who must book in advance to join groups of up to 25 people, can also look behind and above them with the 360 degree technology viewers.

“There were no kitchens here, or bathrooms or heating. The rooms were all open onto the gardens or the view of the lake. It was probably a place to take walks and relax,” said architect Elisabetta Segala.

The complex officially opened to tourists in 1999, but was forced to close again when water damage lead to partial roof collapses.

The fault lay with the public gardens on top of the buried palace, and in 2010 it was decided the area would have to be redesigned.

Visitor watch a film projected onto one of the walls of the Domus Aurea, a large palace built by the Roman Emperor Nero in the first century, during a exhibition for the press about the new visit whit a viewer bioculare to high technology 3D’s sistem, in central Rome on March 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO
A visitor walks through one of the rooms of the Domus Aurea, a large palace built by the Roman Emperor Nero in the first century, during a exhibition for the press about the new visit whit a viewer bioculare to high technology 3D’s sistem, in central Rome on March 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO

Roman garden:

Not only is the garden soil four-metres thick in parts and porous – weighing 30 percent more in heavy rains – but oaks and pines have stretched roots down over 25 metres to feed on the mineral salts in the mortar between the ancient bricks below, weakening the structure.

“We need to treat the frescoes to stop them going green, but as even the smallest intervention removes a layer of the original work we are first resolving the problem with the gardens before doing a final restoration,” Strano said.

Part of the new tour shows visitors how architects and archaeologists plan to save the complex – if funds can be found.

The government has so far stumped up 13 million euros ($14 million) of the 31 million needed to shore up the walls and transform the land above.

Fifty trees will be uprooted, with smaller potted fruit and olive trees put in their place. The flower beds, which will echo the layout of the palace and baths below, will feature plants grown in Roman times, from rosemary to irises.

The beds will be shallow and placed over a system of thermal insulation and drainage which will protect the frescoed rooms below by maintaining the climate underground at exactly 16 degrees Centigrade and the 90 percent humidity to which it has long been acclimatized.

Italy has appealed for private sponsors to help with the restoration work.

By Ella Ide

Photos: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Colosseum’s Secret History Revealed in a New Exhibition

It is famed as the place where gladiators battled lions to the amusement of the citizens of ancient Rome. But of the six million visitors who flock to the Colosseum each year, how many know that during mediaeval times, it was also the fortress base of a powerful Roman family for over two centuries?
Or that in the 1600s, it was like a botanical garden? Its state of semi-abandon, combined with a micro-climate, enabled more than 400 species of plants to flourish inside its arched walls.

Now, thanks to some archaeological detective work based on discoveries made during a spruce-up, a new exhibition recounts some of the untold stories of one of the world’s most-visited monuments.

“The Colosseum: An icon,” which opened on a middle floor of the amphitheatre and runs until next January, shows that life inside the iconic structure did not end with the disintegration of the empire or the final show of the classical era, in 523 AD.

“What it shows is the extraordinary capacity the Colosseum has had to assume different identities over the centuries,” said Francesco Prosperetti,one of the officials in charge of the jewel in the crown of Italian tourism.

Ram’s head, carved antlers

Scholars had long been aware that the mediaeval-era Colosseum had a fortress owned by the Frangipane family.

But much of the archaeological evidence of it was lost at the time of 19th-century excavations, when masonry was removed for new buildings or restorations elsewhere in the city.

Recent restoration work on upper sections of the partially-intact structure however uncovered traces of what was a raised wooden walkway which served as a lookout for the Frangipanes’ soldiers, constantly wary of attacks by rival families.

That has enabled historical experts to put together model and pictorial representations of what the mediaeval Colosseum would have looked like, and these are among the highlights of the new exhibition.

Other archaeological finds, including one side of a ram’s head and carved antlers, point to the mediaeval Colosseum being a hive of activity with the fortified aristocratic residence serviced by a range of businesses, market gardens and religious institutions.

The wooden fortress was partially destroyed by a 1349 earthquake but its surviving structures were later incorporated into a hospital sponsored by wealthy families whose seals have been recently found in digs on the site.

The collection also explores how the building came to be a reference point for students of architecture from far afield and, following its later fall into an elegant state of semi-abandon, how it inspired Renaissance painters and romantic poets.

Renovation and new boss

Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheatre built during the Roman empire.

Standing 48.5 metres (159 feet) high, it was capable of hosting 80,000 spectators for feasts of entertainment that encapsulated the brutality, hedonism and engineering genius that were among the defining features of ancient Rome.

The first phase of a major makeover of the venue was completed in July 2016 with a number of sections structurally strengthened and most of the remaining walls water-sprayed to remove centuries of encrusted dirt and grime.

The works were largely financed – to a reported tune of 25 million euros ($26.5 million) – by upmarket shoe and fashion company Tod’s.

The government has pledged to put up the cash for a second phase which will involve rebuilding the arena floor and make the venue capable of hosting concerts and other cultural events, including re-enactment of some Roman-era events.

The culture ministry has also advertised for a new supremo to oversee the Colosseum as part of a broader shake-up of the management of the country’s landmark historic and cultural attractions.

By Angus MacKinnon

Cappuccino, cats and the Colosseum: The reasons I love living in Rome

When you first arrive in a new city, it’s easy to either fall in love with everything, or feel out of place. So what happens once the honeymoon or adjustment period ends? Expat John Henderson, who blogs about life in Rome at Dog Eared Passport, talks about the things he still loves, or has learnt to love, three years down the line.

Three years is a long time in one place for a lot of people. Three years in a foreign country is an eternity. In Rome, however, at least for me, it’s just the beginning.Three years ago today I landed in Rome with a roller bag, a duffel bag, a computer bag and a backpack. Six days earlier I had retired after 40 years in the newspaper business and resettled in the town I fell in love with 16 years ago.

The honeymoon has not worn off. I’m still in the rockets-and-red-glare stage, like when you meet the woman of your dreams and that tingling never goes away. Rome does that to you. It is so much like a woman. It can be infuriating, unpredictable and expensive. But it’s always beautiful, charming and enlightening. I’ll never leave.

Below you’ll see why. Here is my list of all the reasons I love Rome. I hope it all inspires you to visit and reminds my fellow Rome residents to appreciate all that we have here.

It’s a magical place, and it’s nearly 3,000 years old. It’s not going away.

Neither am I.

I love the view of the Colosseum at night from Caffe Oppio, the bar across the street where you can have an aperitivo for 12 euros and watch the lights shine through the 2,000-year-old porticos. Have two extra glasses of wine and you can almost hear the roar of the crowd — and the screams of the fallen gladiators.

I love walking through my Piazza Testaccio watching a father kick a soccer ball with his little boy, showing the same zeal and love our fathers did when they played catch with us in the front yard.

I love how my Marina’s exquisite photos of Rome show the city’s beauty better than my written words ever can.

I love petting stray cats resting on ancient marble, their bellies full and their spirits high from all the priceless cat ladies, the gattare, who feed them around the city.

I love a glass of Pinot Grigio from the Lazio countryside while sitting on my terrace on a warm July night, seeing the lights from L’Antico Tevere restaurant across the street dance on the Tiber River. For some reason, it makes my prosciutto and melon taste so much better.

I love the view from atop the Atlante Star Hotel, situated in perfect proximity to see St. Peter’s on one side and Vittoriano, the massive 19th century monument called The Birthday Cake, on the other. Rome may not have a more romantic place to begin a date.

I love the smell of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese after it’s poured into a little plastic bag by Antonella and Francesca in my Mercato Testaccio. I can then be found on the street outside, with the bag up to my face, sniffing it like glue.

I love seeing which pair of Italian shoes Marina wears every night.

I love the fagottino, a flaky, rectangular pastry filled with warm chocolate. With a frothy cappuccino, it is the new star in my morning routine at Linari, my neighborhood cafe.

I love the Romanaccio dialect. Only Rome could have a dialect devoted entirely to profanity.

I love the stack of business cards piling up next to my laptop. They represent all the restaurants, cafes and pizzerias I’ve walked past, immediately fell in love with and asked for a business card.

I love being in love with Marina in the most romantic city in the world.

I love how the speedy staff at Linari see me at the counter and immediately set out a fagottino and a cappuccino bencaldo (extra hot) for me.

I love how that staff calls it cappucc (prounounced cah-POOCH) in the Roman dialect.

I love walking down Via Giulia, past its 17th century fountain and Michelangelo’s ivy-covered Arco Farnese, which was designed to connect beautiful Palazzo Farnese with Villa Farnesina on the opposite side of the Tiber but was never completed. Tourists walk down it to say they walked down perhaps Rome’s beautiful street. I walk down it to reach my sports pub.

I love the saldi, the twice annual sales every July and January when top Italian name-brand clothes are up to 50 percent off.

I love how the sun reflects off the orange trees on Aventino Hill, up the hill from my apartment and home to one of the best views in Rome.

I love how La Gazzetta dello Sport has 26 pages on soccer every day — in the off season.

I love walking into St. Peter’s and seeing Bernini’s bronze canopy over St. Peter’s tomb he had to make 30 meters high just to fill the massive space in the basilica.

I love looking down from my seat at a makeshift bar during the hot summer nights on Isola Tiberina, the longest continually inhabited island in the world (3rd century B.C.) and seeing the Tiber River’s whitewater rush past me.

I love the night view from behind Vittoriano, looking out at the illuminated temples sticking up from the Roman Forum. No spot in Rome may better illustrate the glory of Ancient Rome.

I love the traditional feasts on Christmas and the day after Easter, called Pasquino, where food takes precedent over religion, as it always should.

I love how drivers always stop and wave you by when you take one step into a crosswalk. I know it’s the law but how many in the U.S. do it and how many do it with a smile?

I love the pizza at 72 Ore, named for the 72 hours it takes to levitate the dough to the most scrumptious level. Topped with the usual fresh ingredients you find all over Rome, it’s my favorite pizzeria in the city.

I love the drop in humidity from 60 percent to under 40 at night during the steaming summer, turning Rome from a steam bath into the most comfortable city in Europe.

I love La Bella Figura, the Italian concept of a healthy mind and body, the drive that sends women like Marina to the gym four times a week.

I love the view of St. Peter’s Basilica, back-lit like a giant fortress, when I walk through the massive piazza late at night, long after the tourists have left, and only the security guards and gushing fountains accompanying me.

I love sitting outside Linari, with my La Gazzetta dello Sport, cappuccino and fagottino, and watch my Testaccio neighborhood go by.

I love the Italian word tranquillo.

I love the deep color blue in the sky of Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo spent two years looking for the perfect ingredients to make that color shine for nearly 500 years and counting.

I love hearing Marina talk to her friends in Roman, the local dialect that sounds like they’re all eating their words.

I love how Romans laugh with you and not at you when you make a funny mistake with the language, such as when I recently complained to my bank about why my 30-euro contribution to a cat sanctuary in Greece cost 34.50 euros to send, according to my bank statement. The banker explained that the bonifico sull’estero means “‘bank transfer,” not “transfer fee.” The transfer fee was 4.50. Duh!

I love the frosty taste of a cold Tipopils, Italy’s most popular artisan beer, on the cobblestone alley of Via Benedetta after a leisurely stroll through Trastevere on a hot summer day.

I love getting a sack full of fresh cornettos filled with dark and white chocolate, even if it’s midnight, at Sweet Paradise, the great pasticceria near Marina’s place.

I love how the luscious, melted mozzarella stretches from my mouth all the way to the suppli, no matter how far I pull back Rome’s signature fried rice and cheese ball.

I love how every time I travel and come home, I come home to Rome.

John Henderson is a writer and expat living in Rome. A longer version of this article was originally published on his blog, Dog-Eared Passport.