Welcome to Rome
"There once was a dream that was Rome", said Emperor Aurelius in the film 'Gladiator'. Many more will have that dream, like the Emperor's filled with grand legacies, millennia of influence through science, politics, art and religion.
A first port of call is often the iconic Spanish Steps, east of Vatican City, but you may feel disappointment. The breadth of this staircase, overlooked by the mighty Trinità dei Monti church, is often dirty, bustling with market stalls and flailing hand gestures. This could be any city, not the Rome you pictured.
Yet, wandering further south to the Trevi Fountain - star of the film 'La Dolce Vita' - you start to realise something. From description, one pictures this intricately sculpted fountain, standing storeys-high - the meeting point of Ancient Rome's aqueducts - as the central effigy of a grand piazza. Well, it's actually stuck to someone's house.
It then becomes apparent that the the Eternal City is so-called not because it exists in dreams or movies. Rome is, and forever has been, a lived-in city. Footballs bounce against Renaissance sculpture. Thousand-year-old piazzas are populated by washing lines, cobblers and garages repairing scooters. Where once wine was gorged from huge porcelain amphorae, now the Romans sip expertly constructed espresso. Lines have never separated the ancient and the modern. And this - is the real Rome.
A beautiful restaurant with a historic edge