Rome Hidden Gems
After you’ve marveled at Rome’s surface level beauty, check out the wide selection of interesting hidden places to visit.
The Mouth of Truth – Ancient Lie Detector
The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), carries one story that sends shivers up the spine of the superstitious and makes skeptics laugh in amusement. The ancient carving, pictured above, is found outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The pagan god carving is said to bite off the hands of liars. How is that for a useful lie detector? It sounds like there’s no mercy for anyone, even those willfully confessing their crimes.
Gianicolo Hill – Rome Panoramic City View
Hidden gems in Rome aren’t hard to come by, but when this is the case, they often require work to reach. Exploring Rome off the beaten path requires some intensity and a bit of sweat. Take a walk up from the west of the River Tiber to Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi atop Gianicolo Hill. Admiring a city from above is one of the best ways to gain a new perspective.
There’s plenty more to enjoy than just the city view. If you’re lucky enough to be in Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi at noon, you can witness the firing of the canon. While here, I’d suggest stopping by the Tempietto di Bramante, an architectural jewel in my opinion. Here you can enjoy one of the most beautiful displays of high renaissance art.
House of the Owls – Surreal Sites
It’s worth a visit! The building resembles a Swiss cabin of sorts. The surreal style structure has been enhanced over the years, such as by the addition of stained glass windows. The best time to visit is as the sun is setting. The way the light shines through the building’s construction is breathtaking. The park offers several other sites to see and is worth wandering around. For instance, take in all the surrounding beauty of the whimsical house museum.
Tor Marancia – Street Art Galore
Thanks to a public art initiative in 2015, which brought together artists from across the world, the housing complex on Tor Marancia is beautifully adorned with grand-scale murals. Eleven buildings showcase these incredible works of art, open for all to see. If street art lights you up, It has been recommended also visiting the districts of Ostiense and Pigneto. Locals classify both as Rome’s off the beaten path neighbourhoods. For those who love street art, this is a must-add to your list of places to visit in Rome.
The Appian Way – The Queen of All Roads
One of the unique things to do in Rome is to follow the Appian Way. It’s not so much the road itself that is an incredible site, instead what you’ll encounter along the route. With so many stops to make, it’s best to take advantage of a guided tour to ensure you catch all the highlights. Roman aqueducts, Caffarella Park, St. Callixtus Catacombs and the Tomb of Caecilia Metella are some of the places you can visit.
Trastevere – Rome’s Most Charming District
It is true in fact that Trastevere is far from hidden. Tourists to Rome flock to the charming neighborhood to enjoy the calm atmosphere, cute cafes, and excellent local food. The exploration tends to start and end around the Piazza di Santa Maria.
Get ready to fall in love with the Notting Hill-esque homes of Piccola Londra quicker than Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Piccola Londra or Little London, was built in the early 1900s as part of Rome’s ambitious plan to become a modern European capital. The houses were designed by architect Quadrio Pirani in a very “un-Roman” style: a row of small, independent houses with stairs leading up to the front door and gardens in the back. Exactly like some of the houses you might find in London. The style never stretched further than this one small street, so it’s worth a peek.
The Aventine Keyhole
From the exterior it’s an unsuspecting big green door, on closer inspection one of the most unique views of St. Peter’s dome in the city. Peep through the Aventine keyhole and you’ll see the Vatican perfectly framed by an immaculate row of hedges – it’s too good to be by accident! The door leads to the Piazza Knights of Malta, the piazza is not actually “Italy” as it holds extraterritorial status. So, technically you’re looking at two separate nation-states in one country.
Rome’s ancient pyramid
The Pyramid of Cestius is definitely one of Rome’s more unusual sights. Built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, little is known about the man once buried here as the tomb was ransacked long ago. But, according to his will the 120 foot pyramid was complete in an impressive 330 days. Jump off the metro at the aptly named station Piramide and marvel at the only “Egyptian” pyramid in Europe.
it’s all about Moses. Dating from 1513 – 1515, Moses by Michelangelo is an understated masterpiece. At eight feet high, the sculpture was intended to be part of a grander two-storey tomb for Pope Julius II. However, Michelangelo had to compromise with a scaled-down version due to pausing work to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – no big deal! Look out for the horns, a mistranslation of the Hebrew word describing rays of light shining from Moses’ head.