They say to look up in New York. In Rome, look to your left and right. Really look—the feel of the city is right there.
When I'm in Rome, I feel like a fish in my body of water: It's where my grandma lived when she was my age and I've gotten to know it through her eyes ("there's the chocolate shop where I met your grandfather!") and some of my friends', who join me when I visit.
As such, it's hard for me to explain it. Rome. That's what it is! This is why anthropologists aren't supposed to study their own environments. So I will let pictures speak and hope you get a feel for this place, this enchanting place I hope you get to swim in soon.
More: Your stellar recommendations for what to do in Rome.
Left: Reminders that Christianity has been the dominant religion in Rome for centuries flank buildings all around town. Some are decorated, some are minimal.
Right: If Rome was built with a color palette in mind, this would be it. Plus, so many of Rome's walls have plants growing on or in front of them.
Some say that you can learn about the real life of Romans past and present by reading the city's very pervasive graffiti—it's been part of its history for thousands of years. (You'll even find it in Pompeii.) We took notice of this wall because the graffiti is scratched, not painted, which is the original art form. "Graffiti" is derived from the word "graffio," which means "a scratch."
Left: One of my favorite parts about Rome is that your route to get you from here to there almost always includes passing a grand, really old building. You can't not stop and admire the architecture (so, yes, I am always late).
Right: Here, a woman is belaying her tote to the street, where the woman who works at the produce market right below grabbed it and filled it with squash blossoms. Whether grand architecture or simple acts, remnants of another time are everywhere.
Photos by Ryan Powell