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

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 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.