VISITORS who arrive in Rome for the first time may find it hard to imagine the influential role this city played in the history of humanity.
The outskirts reveal a city not unlike many others. Graffiti and grime adorn the sidewalks while the horns of impatient drivers echo off dingy apartment walls.
Yet this city is like no other.
From before the birth of Christ until the 4th Century AD, it was the world's greatest superpower with an empire that stretched from Northern England to Egypt.
The Romans controlled much of the world and they had the city to match, combining grandeur, art and passion that flowed though its ancient aqueducts.
In that sense, Rome has changed little.
Its grandeur has been carried through 2000 years and modern Rome is a thriving, bustling city – with some of the most significant sites in the ancient and modern world.
Manage its hordes of tourists and exorbitant prices and Rome will leave you tingling all over and yearning for more.
Waiting times to see Rome's drawcards vary from hours in summer to minutes in winter, but whatever the season it is worth the wait.
Stare in wonder at the Colosseum and imagine the roars of a 50,000 strong crowd cheering for their gladiator some 2000 years ago.
Marvel at Michelangelo's masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel or let St Peter's Basilica take your breath away in the world's smallest country and capital of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican City.
Rome is a melting pot of art, history, divinity and sublimely good pizza while Romans are bursting with passion, fashion sense and an intriguing obsession with shots of coffee.
It is this which is Rome's heart, still beating strong after thousands of years.
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