Bearer of great history and incomparable beauty, the “Eternal City” is, with no wonder, one of the most popular destinations across Europe. It’s a city for all tastes, combining magnificence, knowledge, and history.
Wandering around the cobblestone streets, you see centuries of history revealed in front of your eyes. You feel Italian aromas tickle your nose as you pass by local eateries, and you find yourself standing in awe in front of this miracle called Rome.
Everybody knows Colosseum and Fontana di Trevi, and I don’t believe there is anybody who hasn’t wandered around the most touristic parts of the city. However, Rome has more to reveal, which might not be as famous as the Colosseum, but worth a visit.
Ready? Let’s take a closer look at some of Rome’s lesser-known pearls. Watch out for the top 10 hidden gems in Rome.
This charming Italian neighborhood is a few minutes walk from the Colosseum and so, easily accessible on foot. The narrow picturesque streets and the traditional Italian buildings are reminiscent of a past Italy. It’s ideal for strolling around a sunny day, enjoying the tranquility and following the steps of the locals. Apart from the beautiful houses, you will also find a variety of fancy little restaurants and “gelaterie” (ice cream shops), well known for their fresh ice cream.
If you prefer taking a shopping stroll, this neighborhood is famous for the trendy second-hand and vintage shops, which offer an alternative fashion, or clothing from the past in outstanding quality. “Mercato Monti,” the Sunday market, is not to be missed; there you can find everything from vintage clothing to accessories and jewelry.
If you feel tired, you can grab an ice cream from the favorite gelateria “Fatamorgana” and enjoy it at the central square (Piazza della Madonna dei Monti), which is a meeting point for the locals. If you love trying different tastes, we encourage you to visit “Aromaticus,” a cozy bistro which combines urban gardening with delicious food.
Allow yourself to drift and follow your eyes and nose; you won’t regret it!
2. San Lorenzo
One of the coolest neighborhoods in the city, San Lorenzo gains its reputation fairly. A few minutes away from the university, it’s considered a paradise for students, with many choices of student accommodation and a variety of things to do. This alternative area is famous both for its local shops which sell all kinds of things, and its buzzing nightlife. More and more young people like to spend their nights there, frequenting one of the pubs or having an aperitif in one of the trendy restaurants.
The area is also well-known for the fantastic wall art (graffitis) around the streets, which gives the area an urban air. Grab a book and a coffee at Assaggi Bookshop, or a beer and chill out at the Immacolata square (Piazza dell’ Immacolata).
Once considered a dangerous area to walk alone at night, now it’s home to the hippest bars, restaurants, and music venues in the city. Wandering around the streets, you will find yourself amazed by the breathtaking graffitis, which make the area a center for art.
4. Parco di Villa Pamphili
Villa Pamphili is one of the most beautiful palaces in Rome, which now operates as a museum. Around the palace spans a vast park (the biggest in Rome after the Appia Antica).
This beautiful park is usually frequented on a sunny day by locals who want to enjoy the sun and the tranquility of the place. You will find them riding bikes, using the outdoor gym equipment, or having a picnic with their loved ones. It’s ideal if you want to combine a visit to the museum with an exploration of the gardens.
5. Isola Tiberina
Isola Tiberina is a small island by the river Tiber, which is connected to the shore by two bridges. From there you can access the areas of Trastevere and Ghetto easily. On the island lays a hospital since 1585, and the church of St. Bartholomew. Myth has it that the church stands on the site of the 3rd-century-BC temple of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.
We encourage you to visit the island during summertime when there are stylish night bars and an open-air cinema. The island is highly recommended for a stroll by the river as well.
The Ghetto is a hidden pearl between the Tiber river and Venice Square. It’s a Jewish neighborhood and, as its name proves, it’s where all the Jews of the city were living.
During the late Renaissance (around 1555), the RomeoCatholic church decided to enclose the whole Jewish community within that small area. Massive gates were built to seclude the area from the rest of the city. Nobody was allowed to live out of the gates, and, when the Jews wanted to go out, they had to put a cloth on as a sign of their nationality. During the 2nd World War, everyone was transferred to Auschwitz.
Nowadays, the traditional Jewish restaurants, the houses, and the impressive Synagogue make this area worth a visit. Don’t forget to have a bite of the tasty Jewish-Roman food, and especially the artichokes.
7. Il Mattatoio
The Mattatoio in the area of Testaccio is one of the most important industrial structures in the city. Once used for swarming and slaughtering of pigs and water tanks, it’s now an art center. A variety of exhibitions take place like art and cinema exhibitions, and festivals. It’s well-known for its range of workshops on music, dance, art, and theatre.
8. Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori is one of the most vibrant squares in the city. Once a small field, it now hosts many pubs, clubs and restaurants, and a lively market. The market offers a vast variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish; ingredients that are never missing from an Italian kitchen.
A prominent spot at the square holds the statue of Giordano Bruno, the Italian astronomer, and philosopher, who was burnt on the stake for his beliefs.
9. Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
This beautiful little church, which resembles a monastery, is hidden at the scenic area of Trastevere. Hidden among small alleys, it’s well worth a visit. The courtyard’s garden, along with the magnificent interior, makes the church ideal to get a glimpse of the traditional Italian religious style.
The church’s name comes from Santa Cecilia, a Christian martyr, and mistress of music. The church is situated on the same spot where Santa Cecilia was born and later, killed.
Ideal for cinema lovers, Cinecittà is the place which has hosted some of the most magnificent productions over the years. Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese, Sofia Loren, and Liz Taylor are some of the names who put their mark here. Cleopatra (1963), La Traviata (1982) and Ben Hur were just some of the most significant productions filmed on location.
Cinecittà is the heart of Italian cinema and the largest film studio in Europe. During the 2nd World War it was bombarded and, after the war, it was used as a campsite for refugees. In 1950 it was reconstructed, and it’s now available to visit.
Whether you’ve already been, or you’re a first-time traveler to Rome, make sure you visit some of these unique places. You won’t regret it!
Updated: July 18, 2019