Hidden Gems And Unusual Sights In Rome, Italy marts 1, 2022 – Posted in: Italy, Travel – Tags: Attractions, Ferie, Holiday, Italy, Rome, Seværdigheder, Vacations, Weekend Breaks
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Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Rome
Are you looking for new and unusual attractions in Rome? If this is not your first visit to Rome, you’ve probably already seen the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. But Rome offers many other exciting sights, often completely unknown to most tourists. And it is indeed very liberating to be able to see the exciting attractions completely without the loud guided tours and the push and hustle and bustle of the selfie tourists.
Here you’ll get a guide to overlooked gems in Rome that you just have to visit if you want to see a little more of the city. You’ll find suggestions for trips out of Rome, an alternative to the long and expensive trip to Pompeii and several underground sights in ancient Rome.
An alternative to the tourist crowds
The best thing about the alternative sights in Rome that you can read about here is that you do not have to share them with the big tourist crowds. Not because the alternative sights in Rome are difficult to get to, but because they are not usually on the list of must see sights in Rome.
In this article you can read about some completely unique experiences that a very small part of all the tourists of Rome will ever find.
5 attractions in Rome, that most tourists don’t find
The Coloseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are marvelous sights, that you definitely have to see. At the same time it’s also very sad that so much of the ancient city have disappeared. Between today’s houses and the overload of cars in Rome, it can be difficult to imagine what ancient Rome really looked like.
In Ostia Antica, where the photo at the top is from, you don’t need to bring your imagination at all, because here you’ll walk around an ancient and well-preserved Roman city. The former port city was responsible for the food supply to Rome and had its heyday in the year 200 AD. Several buildings still stand 3 or 4 storeys high, and as a tourist you are allowed to explore the city on your own. Even visitors who are not archeology geeks (like us!) will find Ostia Antica incredibly interesting.
In Ostia Antica you will see worldly buildings, restaurants, toilets, granaries as well as a bleaching factory, where the slaves walked around in the large vessels filled with urine, a process in which the clothes were bleached. Most impressive, however, is the theater and the great temple of Rome and Augustus. There is plenty to look at, so do set aside a whole day for this overlooked gem. If you want to spend and hour or two in the area, then go quickly over the first part – it get’s really exciting from the theater and onwards.
An alternative to Pompei
It is expensive and time consuming to get to Pompeii. Ostia Antica is an easier and equally exciting alternative. From Rome you buy a regular metro ticket and take the train from the Pyramid station in Testaccio. Then there is a five to ten minute walk to the entrance, and in total the trip takes half an hour. There is an (expensive) cafeteria on site, but you can also bring a sandwich from home.
The race track in Capanelle
One of the really alternative sights in Rome is the horse racing track! If you want to experience something local and authentic that only a few tourists will ever find, take a walk on the racing track in the small suburb of Capannelle. At the Ippodromo Roma Capannelle, the locals relax with horse racing, just as they did in Roman times.
Read more: Ippodromo Roma Capannelle
Museum of the Capuchin Monks
In the lower part of the exclusive shopping street Via Veneto is a church that is the direct opposite of consumption and luxury goods. The Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini belongs to the Catholic Capuchin Order, founded by Matteo di Bassi of Urbano in 1525, as a branch of the Franciscan Order. The Capuchins were begging monks, and the museum must also be seen in contrast to the incredible wealth of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The museum tells the story of the Capuchin monks, which is an exciting chapter in the story of the Catholic Church. However, that is not the whole reason why you should visit the museum! In the crypt is the most macabre and strange exhibition. In the small chapels along the narrow corridor, more than 3,700 Capuchin monks are buried – with some of their skeletons arranged in decorative patterns. There are small tableaux, vertebral garlands, skull vaults and bone lamps. And a constant reminder of memento mori – remember that you too must die.
When you afterwards are enjoying life in the bustling city over a cappuccino, keep in mind that the name of this wonderful drink stems from the Capuchin monks. The color of an espresso with milk is reminiscent of the brown tunic of the Capuchins, where the long hood, a cappucino , gave its name to the now world-famous drink.
Read more: Il Museo e la Cripta dei Frati Cappuccini (in Italian, but with address and opening hours)
Via Appia Antica
The Appian Road is one of the sights that many tourists unfortunately never find. And that’s a shame, because an interesting – and completely free – trip awaits you along the historic main road between Rome and Bridisi. From Circus Maximus there is about half an hour of walking before your reach Porta San Sebastiano, where Via Appia Antica begins.
On the ancient Roman road, regina viarum , “Queen of the Roads”, you get a sense of the buzz of history, and also how ancient Rome was planned as a modern metropolis with a well-thought-out infrastructure. The impressive Roman road is surrounded by cypresses, catacombs and ancient ruins, and it is wonderful to escape the noise of bustling streets. It is recommended to visit Via Appia Antica on Sundays, when there are fewer cars. Remember water and packed lunches – and solid walking shoes!
Via Appia Antica stretches out through the countryside and it is possible to walk all the way down to the airport in Ciampino and take the bus home to Rome from there. Depending on how much time you want to set aside for the trip, different tours can be suggested:
The first stretch of road from the centre of Rome is very busy and not really a pleasure. If you are only in Rome on a weekend trip, we can recommend to take bus 118 to the San Sebastino catacombs, where the road is starting to get really exciting. Take a walk in the area and bring your packed lunch just like the Romans do all summer.
If you have plenty of time, walk all the way from Porta San Sebastiano and out via Via Appia Antica until you reach the Via del Casale Rotondo road. Feel free to visit Villa di Massenzio on the way. If you turn towards the small suburb of Capannelle, you will find a regional train station that can take you to Termini. P.S.! There is no ticket machine at the station and you have to buy a ticket in the app for Trenitalia.
Walk all the way from Porta San Sebastiano to Ciampino Airport. Take bus number 520 to Cinecitta metro station and go back to Termini. Otherwise, a taxi from the airport and into Rome has a fixed price of 30 euros. Read more about public transport in Rome here: How to Get Around in Rome – by Metro, Bus, Tram and Taxi
Along the road and especially at the beginning at Parco Appia Antica and the catacomb of Saint Callisto it is possible to rent bicycles and mountain bikes. Many choose to do so, so beware of tourists from countries where cycling is not a normal form of transportation! Read more: Parco Appia Antica
San Crisogono – The oldest church of Rome
Do I really want to see more churches? Maybe that’s what you’re now thinking after a visit to both St. Peter’s Basilica and the eerie crypt below the Capuchin Church. And yes, you do! Rome is full of beautiful churches and if you just have to see one more, make it San Crisogono in Trastevere.
The current church is from the 12th century, but below lies what is said to be the oldest church in Rome. It only costs €3 to step into the past, where you will find the former church from the 700s far below today’s street level.
To the sound of the subway thundering away above your head, you can enjoy the rustic basilica church and the primitive frescoes. As you walk around the ruins, also keep in mind that there are remnants of an even older church from 400 AD hidden under your feet. Read more: S.Crisogono
Find a great hotel in Rome
On Booking.com you get thousands of hotels to choose from when you search for accomodation in Rome. It can be difficult to choose – which hotel is actually the best hotel in Rome? Rome offers hotels in all price ranges, and here you get recommendations for good hotels in Rome, all of which can be booked through Booking.com. See more hotels by performing your own search here:
An apartment in Rome for a family
On our last visit to Rome, we stayed in a beautiful apartment with the most amazing view of St. Peter’s Church. St Peter’s View Apartment is located a 10 minute walk from St. Peter’s Square. The apartment consists of two rooms, a living room, shower & toilet and a small kitchen.
However, we never got to use the kitchen! Just around the corner from the apartment is the small café Capitan Cono. Here we had our morning coffee every day and the crispiest croissants, and dinner was eaten at some of all the lovely restaurants in Rome. Read more about the apartment here: St Peter’s View Apartment
A holiday in a medieval defence tower
If you want a completely unique hotel experience, book a room in Residenza Torre Colonna. The tower was built in 1247 to protect the distinguished Colonna family and today houses an exclusive boutique hotel. The old medieval defense tower has five spacious rooms and is located right in the center right next to all the major sights.
Bring your breakfast up on the small roof terrace and enjoy the view of the very oldest part of the city. Residenza Torre Colonna is a hotel for those who want to be in the middle of history, but with a spa and air conditioning.
An affordable hotel in quirky Trastevere
On the other side of the Tiber lies Trastevere, an area that offers plenty of good restaurants and bars. Within walking distance of Campo de ‘Fiori you will find an affordable guest house, Relais Le Clarisse. The small and charming B&B was formerly a convent belonging to the Order of Le Clarisse.
For a small fee, you can have breakfast in the old herb garden of the nunnery, under the shady olive and citrus trees. Right in front of the hotel there are both buses and trams, ready to transport you right to the city center. Relais Le Clarisse is for you who want to stay on a budget in the middle of the historic city life of Trastevere.
How do you get to Rome?
Rome has two airports: Ciampino and Fiumicino. Ciampino is the oldest and smallest and is mainly used by the low cost airlines. Fiumicino is the largest, with more than 25 million passangers every year. Both airports are located south of the city, but at different ends, so remember to take the location of the airport into account when booking your hotel in Rome.