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There we were, ten metres underground, staring at a pile of rubble. It was the wrong end of the working day in the middle of a stifling summer and, alongside a dozen ancient history enthusiasts, I gazed at a tiny fragment of mosaic floor and some crumbling bricks inside a 2000-year-old fire station. “For most people who live in Rome it’s like the Catholic religion,” says one breathless fan. “It is not a choice, this is an open air museum.

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