I put on my Rome-face as soon as the train passes the acqueducts on the way to Termini. The face is: been here a million times, please stay out of my way. I can keep up this disguise until I exit the train station. Then I am once again overcome with memory and wonder. No place feels more like home to me. The bus comes quickly, which I take as an omen, and I get to the hotel lobby where it seems that everyone on staff remembers me from last year, down to the gluten-free breakfast request. Might have something to do with the fact that I stayed for twelve nights, probably a lot longer than most guests.
The hotel is Hotel dei Fori Imperiali Cavalieri, between Piazza Cavour and the Colosseo. There's a view of the top of the Colosseo from the roof terrace, a very comfortable place to spend some time. The hotel is family-owned, and they all seem to like each other. The rooms (single, anyway) are very efficiently laid out (= smallish), but some have balconies.
The weather is lovely for the first four days, warm with a cool breeze. I have a weekly transit pass burning a hole in my pocket, so the next morning, after breakfast that includes gluten-free treats from the family's bakery, I am off to revisit old neighborhoods and, later, find some new ones. The transit pass for a week is €24, there are other timeframes available as well. I like a bus ride, to find a new place or to give my cobblestone-hammered feet a rest.
Over the course of the next twelve days, I visit two places I haven't seen before: Palazzo Valentini, with Roman houses and a 90-minute guided tour. The audio-visual "tour" offers reconstructions based on the visible remains. I found the most interesting part to be the last segment, on the Arch of Trajan, which is right outside the Palazzo. It's also the only time you can sit down.
I much preferred the Case Romane del Celio, off Via San Gregorio. No guided tour, but the ticket seller will give you lots of information about the rooms. This is right below the church of Saints Giovanni and Paolo (not that John and Paul, but two third-century soldier-martyrs who refused to renounce their Christian faith, and are patron saints of Roma).
I met up with two forum posters during my first week, which was wonderful in itself, but it came in handy when a transit strike was called for the day they needed to fly out of FCO, and I got in touch to let them know to reserve a taxi (at least to Roma Termini, strikes don't stop the Leonardo Express). They got home fine.
On my way to buy a pair of irresistibly soft leather shoes, I noticed a new "stumbling block" on the street leading from Campo dei Fiori to Via Arenula. These are found in many cities in Europe, each is a small, square bronze plaque set into the pavement in front of an apartment building where a Jewish resident was arrested for deportation during the Nazi occupation of Roma. Most plaques in Roma bear the date 16 October 1943. The plaque gives the name of the person, their age or birth date, the date of arrest, and the date and place that they were murdered. Most died in Auschwitz. Seeing the names, and the bare outline of the person's fate, bring me to tears, even writing about it. I go to the Portico of Ottaviana to read, once again, the marble wall plaque on a building in the small Piazza where the Jews of Roma were deported. An American couple struggles to translate the text, so I offer to read it to them. Of the over 1000 people who were deported, only sixteen returned.