Hidden Gems: When in Rome… Do as the Romans Do!


Roma Capitale: the fascinating, outstanding and amazing Italian city that definitely puts the roma in romantic. With an incredible background of over two and a half thousand years of existence, Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. The reasons are more than obvious: breathtaking architecture, a tumultuous history, irreplaceable artistic value and countless monuments and museums. All of these cultural qualities rake in literally millions of tourists from around the world each and every year. In fact, the Bilateral Tourism Authority of Lazio reports that Rome enjoyed no less than 12.6 million tourists in 2013, growing 5% from the previous year. We’re certain that the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Sistine Chapel and the Roman Forum had something to do with those mind-boggling statistics, but what about the gorgeous gems in Rome that most tourists do not know about?

You will be surprised to discover a wide range of hidden treasures that the Eternal City has to offer. These spots are not well-known by average tourists, but rather by locals who keep them away from hordes of foreigners. We have decided to gather them all and create the ultimate list of places in Rome you probably didn’t know about and that you should visit. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do and check out these super cool 17 hidden gems!

Cristalli Di Zucchero

1. Cristalli Di Zucchero

What better way to start off an unconventional tour in Rome on a hot summer day than by getting a gelato to enjoy on your walk? Well Cristalli Di Zucchero is certainly where you should go. Located near the Circus Maximus, this quaint cafe offers mouthwatering Italian ice cream and loads of other sweets to choose from. There are no tables, so grab your gelato and savor it while visiting the other hidden gems on our list!

Villa Doria Pamphili

2. Villa Doria Pamphili

One of the greatest places for enjoying the gelato your just bought is the Villa Doria Pamphili. Not as well-known as the Villa Borghese, the 17th century Villa Doria Pamphili covers no less than 180 hectares and is simply a dream come true to walk around. This beauty is actually appreciated as the largest landscaped public park in Rome, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Porta Alchemica

3. Porta Alchemica

Fascinated by occultism? Then you better make sure you catch the mysterious Porta Alchemica (The Alchemical Door) in Piazza Vittorio. This monument was built by the Marquis Massimiliano Palombara between the years 1678 and 1680. It is the only gate out of the five that used to surround the Villa Palombara. There are quite a few legends that revolve around this “Magic Portal”, as it has been dubbed in pop culture, but we’ll let you discover them for yourself when you visit it.

San Lorenzo

4. Quartiere San Lorenzo

Although it’s not one of the most reputed areas in Rome, San Lorenzo is super fun for the young, wild, and free. This quartiere (or district) is the favorite spot for hundreds of local students each and every night, as it is close to the La Sapienza University. By popping in for a visit in the evening, you’ll discover great pizzerias, affordable bars and random block parties that will surely offer you a unique experience.

Basilica San Clemente

5. Basilica San Clemente

Located on Via Labicana 95, San Clemente is an amazing medieval church that covers 2000 years of history and art. You will have the chance of viewing exceptional frescoes by Masolino, gorgeous mosaics and even a shrine to Mithras. The main church has two lower levels that enclose even more gorgeous hidden gems, like a pagan temple from 1st century Rome! Be sure to check out all of them when visiting this underrated and breathtaking Basilica, you certainly won’t regret it.

Sant Eustachio Caffe

6. Sant’Eustachio Caffé

All of this sight-seeing might get you a little tired. So what better way to get energized again than by enjoying the best coffee locals are crazy about in Rome? Stop by the Sant’Eustachio Caffé and sip a fantastic espresso, prepared with a super-secret recipe. You can find the cafe between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, so make sure you stop by and experience a true espresso like an authentic Italian!

santa prassede

7. Basilica Di Santa Prassede

It’s impossible to not fall in love with all of the precious churches that Rome presents. The Basilica Di Santa Prassede is no exception. Located on a very discrete alley, pretty close to Santa Maria Maggiore, the Santa Prassede church was built in the 8th century and houses spectacular frescoes and Byzantine mosaics. Many visitors find themselves spending hours on end almost hypnotized by the impressive artwork this little church presents. Entrance is free-of-charge, so you have every reason to come and admire this memorable hidden gem.


8. Pizzeria Da Remo

Lunch time! The absolute best lunch you can enjoy in Rome is their world-famous pizza. There are tons of pizzerias scattered all across the city, but Pizzeria Da Remo is for sure the #1 hidden gem from this point of view. It is the classic Italian pizzeria that comes with loud and hearty Italians, making it an awesome experience from a local’s perspective. You can enjoy your pizza inside with a refreshing beverage, or snack on some bruschetta outside near the slides and swings. Buon appetito!


9. Protestant / Non-Catholic Cemetery

This cemetery was established for foreigners who were, you guessed it, Protestant or non-Catholic. Why should you visit a cemetery? You should know that this burial ground not only is home to English poets Percy Shelley or John Keats, but is also a gorgeous place to walk around and contemplate. It’s sheltered from the general chaos of the city center, so if you want some time to meditate and admire the skillfully crafted headstones, check out the Protestant Cemetery near the Pyramid of Cestius.


10. Sant’Ignazio Church

The Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio, commonly known as the St. Ignatius Church, is a lovely representation of the Baroque style that was built between 1626 and 1650. It houses frescoes created by Andrea Pozzi in 1685, dedicated to St. Ignatius and the Society of Jesus. It is absolutely stunning to admire, so you should really consider dropping by if you are visiting Rome.

Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala

11. Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala

Our next hidden gem is actually quite an unconventional destination for ordinary tourists. But because our aim is to make you go from a tourist to an authentic traveler, we warmly recommend the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala. What is it, do you ask? A 500-year-old drugstore. You heard us right, this superb drugstore houses furniture that has not been altered whatsoever since the 1700s, which makes it a great piece of history to witness. Be sure to visit it for a unique insight on this particular part of Roman history.

optical illusion gallery

12. Galleria Spada

The Galleria Spada is located in the palace with the same name, near the Palazzo Farnese. Besides offering a wonderful garden with a view of the Tiber River, it also presents a forced perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini. This particular gallery is an awesome optical illusion, as it seems like a long corridor with a large statue at the end, when really they are a lot smaller in real life. See it for yourself and experience a super cool illusion right in front of your face.


13. The Roman Cat Sanctuary

Yes, there is such thing as a Roman Cat Sanctuary. It is a heart-warming example that will certainly restore your faith in humanity. The Roman Cat Sanctuary houses no less than 400 cats that are all very well taken care of by volunteers, from feeding to nursing. It is located on a previous excavation site on Largo di Torre Argentina, so stop by and visit the cute kitties that enjoy a true home there.


14. Via Appia Antica

The Via Appia Antica is the first ever paved road in history and is an incredible 513 kilometers long (that means over 318 miles!). Its origins are in 312 BC and the Roman part of the path is preserved as a national park with a fabulous view and intriguing ruins. Of course you won’t be able to walk the entire distance, but it’s the perfect option for a romantic stroll in the evening.

Quartiere Coppede

15. Quartiere Coppedè

Widely regarded as Rome’s fantasy district, the Quartiere Coppedè is a gorgeously strange neighborhood hidden behind Quartiere Trieste and not far away from Piazza Fiume. You enter the district via a spectacular arch and are welcomed by a gigantic chandelier. This breathtaking neighborhood was established in the early 1900s by architect Gino Coppedè and is a must-see for hidden gem seekers.
Capuchin Crypt

16. Capuchin Crypt

The skeletons of 3,700 bodies make up the Capuchin Crypt. The bones are assembled in almost a decorative matter and are rumored to be those of Capuchin friars that were burned. The Capuchin Crypt is located on the Via Veneto, under the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini (quite close to the Piazza Barberini). The entire ensemble is almost unbelievable, when you think that all the skulls and bones are actually real. Be sure you check it out for a creepy and astounding experience.


17. Il Goccetto

A perfect day in Rome should conclude with a glass of fantastic wine, shouldn’t it? Il Goccetto can be found on Via dei Banchi Vecchi 14 and is appreciated for its tasteful wine and gourmet platters. It welcomes customers with a 15th century interior design and tons of locals always chatting away. You can choose from a selection of 50 excellent wines that are regularly changed so you can try out new ones. Let’s raise a glass to your memorable, unconventional and unique experience in Rome!

Photo credits: Zingarate.com, NYmag.com, Il-circolo.org, Wikipedia.org, Oh-rome.com, Exurbe.com, Tripwolf.com, Settemuse.it, Taxigourmet.com, Canada.com,  Wikipedia.org, Gea-archeologia.it, Turismoroma.it, Softpedia.com, Wikimedia.org, Stanzasingolaroma.com, Thousandwonders.net, Exblog.jp.