In a city as old as Rome, it is hard to imagine finding anything new amid the rubble. But this city not only celebrates its ancient history, it unearths new fragments of its past every other day and creates innovative ways to show the discoveries to the public. There always seems to be something new to see.
This year, four rooms in Emperor Augustus's 2000-year-old home were opened to the public, while remnants from the forums of three emperors are on show inside a dynamic new museum encompassing Emperor Trajan's Markets, dating from the second century AD.
Archaeologists are surprised by what they come across. A fragment of an ancient equestrian statue that once adorned the Colosseum caused a sensation when it was uncovered in April. Just a few weeks ago, archaeologists were shocked to find the tomb of a Roman general whom they believe may have inspired the character played by Russell Crowe in the Oscar-winning film Gladiator.
Meantime, long queues stand outside the frescoed rooms of Rome's first emperor, Augustus, on the Palatine Hill just above the Forum. Only a handful of people are allowed at a time, in a bid to protect the fragile frescoes.
Italian experts believe the four rooms, uncovered 50 years ago below the ruins of Augustus's sprawling imperial palace, were part of a smaller house he lived in when he was still simply Julius Caesar's adoptive son, Octavian.
Fragments of finely etched frescos, considered to be some of the finest examples of Roman wall paintings, have been restored in a dining room, bedroom, study and entrance hall. One large room has a theatrical theme and features a comic mask, while another has an elegant garden vista.
While little remains of the palaces that once covered the Palatine - the sacred hill where Rome is said to have been founded by Romulus in 754BC - the exquisitely decorated rooms tell you something about one of the most ambitious leaders of the ancient world.
Rome's newest museum is the Trajan's Markets-Imperial Forums Museum. Covering more than 2000 square metres, it is built inside the remains of the once-thriving forum and marketplace built by Emperor Trajan between AD106 and AD112. The museum cleverly combines some of the city's oldest assets with latest technology and includes pieces from the nearby forums constructed by Trajan's predecessors, Julius Caesar and Augustus.
Trajan's Forum was a vast complex of buildings, including an archive and two libraries. Adjoining the forum were the markets, a multi-storeyed commercial complex, perhaps the forerunner to the modern shopping mall.
While the museum contains only 172 original marble fragments, they are complemented by explanations and video graphics that give visitors an instant snapshot of where they were found and how they were used.
Too often, the city's relics are shoved in a room with little information (in Italian or English) and you wonder whether you should have saved your money. Not here. You'll see a bronze foot of a winged figure from the second century AD and Emperor Constantine's head (part of a statue toppled during a revolt in AD326 and later found in a sewer).
From the great hall you enter the ruins of the markets. At the centre is a dramatic, semi-circular brick building that housed three levels of shops, taverns and warehouses. Walking along the restored road, Via Biberatica, it's easy to imagine the late-night revelry in the taverns. The market stalls sold wine, oils, clothing - even live fish.
The Roman port of Ostia is just 25 kilometres from the capital and can be reached by car, train or boat. While not as famous as Pompeii, this port town is an archaeological treat and gives visitors an insight into life 2000 years ago.Visitors tramp its original roads to see the amphitheatre, pagan temples and baths.
Four elegant homes from the era of Emperor Hadrian (he ruled from AD117 to AD138) have been opened recently. Under a simple modern roof is the Casa Luccia Primitiva. The rooms include an entrance, salon and bedrooms. Black-and-white marble floors have been carefully restored in the geometric patterns of the time, while the walls are covered with delicate figures and scenes of hunting and fishing. At the nearby Insula delle Muse (House of the Muse), Apollo and nine sisters are depicted on a wall. At the Insula delle Volte Dipinte (House of the Painted Vault), a remarkable hunting scene is depicted on a rare vaulted ceiling and the tile floor is inlaid with black hearts.
My favourite place was the Insula delle Pareti Gialle (House of the Yellow Walls). This home was probably built during Hadrian's rule but a range of decorating styles suggests more work was done later. As the name suggests, the walls are covered in vibrant yellow and feature goddesses, nymphs and warriors.
The homes are open to the public for short periods - on Wednesday and Saturday from 10.30am to noon. That may change but, for now, officials are restricting access to allow for further restoration.
After centuries of neglect, it may seem odd that Romans have become obsessed about preserving heritage but it's long overdue and gives travellers plenty of reasons to return.