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We’re here! We have done it! Welcome to the first international season — and the 14 season in total — of Dining on a Dime. For the occasion I’ll be eating my way through the Eternal City, sampling the tentpole pasta dishes that are associated with Rome, visiting a bakery serving some of the best pizza in the city, and trying more than one fried food, and a few artichokes, too.

While we’ve shot the series outside the United States before, this is the first time I’ve really felt outside of my comfort zone — in a place I was unfamiliar with and where I was unable to speak the language. Fortunately, Rome is one of the greatest eating cities in the world; and with a focus on fresh ingredients and unpretentious food, it demonstrates what I’ve always believed: That a city’s inexpensive food is the best barometer of what the character of a place is really like. — Lucas Peterson