Rome off the beaten track: Avoid the tourist crush at these stunning, underrated sites!
Ah Rome, the Eternal City. It’s one of those places that no matter how many time you go, there’s always more to see, do and eat! If you’ve been a few time sand are dying to go back and discover more, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you!
If you’ve done the Forum to death and can’t face the idea of braving the bustling crowds in the Colosseum, we’ve got the guide that will take you away from the crazy crowds and off to see some of real Rome – off the beaten tourist track!
The Aventine keyhole offers a truly unique view of the Vatican as you’ve never seen it before! Located on one of Rome’s seven hills, Aventine Hill is down beyond Circus Maximus in a mostly residential area, which offers a change of scenery from the bustling side streets and main roads of the city centre. The Aventine keyhole is a keyhole in a door to the walled-off grounds of the Santa Maria del Priorato Church. And apparently completely by accident, the keyhole lines up exactly so that when you look through it, you have the perfectly framed view of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican! Although the keyhole is roughly 3km away from the Basilica, it’s perfectly clear and uninterrupted, coincidental view.
It’s a random and quirky spot to see, but a really fun stop, especially if you’re a photography enthusiast!
Looking for more fabulous views of Rome, but not looking to brave the crowds around the popular but tourist-jammed Palatine Hill terrace? Opt for another of Rome’s lesser known hills, it’s located on the Vatican side of the river and – after a steep enough walk – offers a truly breathtaking cityscape view.
We’d definitely recommend doing this one at the end of the holiday to try point out all the sights that you’ve seen already and map your journey across Rome. A truly panoramic experience, it’s well worth the hike – though we’d recommend making a gelato stop on the way up!
Baths of Caracalla
Another spot to visit just beyond Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla are almost as mind-blowing as the Forum or the Colosseum itself, and yet aren’t on most people’s must-see lists! This is also a plus though, because you aren’t battling major crowds trying to get around and see the ruins.
An ancient Roman bathhouse/ leisure complex, these ruins are staggeringly intact and massive, with everything from games the visitors used to play to the marble tiling of the pool floors still visible and as well-maintained as if Caesar had been there mere moments before! There isn’t a huge amount of signage and no tours that we could see, so be sure to read up on it first as it’s fascinating to realise what the different structures are that you’re seeing, from the frigidarium to the thermal areas. It’s like walking a massive into a 2nd century spa! Nothing can prepare you for how impressive the complex is, especially when the entry fee was a mere €4!
Basilica de St Clement
If you like your creepy vibes and historical buildings, then the Basilica de St Clement is for you! Just 3 minute’s walk from the Colosseum (away from the crush of the Forum queues) this church was actually built on top of a church that was built on top of another church that used to house an ancient cult! And the best part> You can access all three churches through various tunnels and levels.
These excavations are truly jaw-dropping and also super creepy! It’s a very atmospheric visit a stone’s throw from some major attractions, so we definitely recommend stopping by while in the area, because it gives you a very visual understanding of how Rome is really just a city built on a city, built on another city! Bring a jacket or something to cover up with too, as it can get chilly three floors underground!
Love Trevi Fountain but curious or more information about it? Look no further than Vicus Caprarius, the little known source of Trevi a mere two streets away! Tucked down a side street just 30 seconds from one of Rome’s biggest attractions, Vicus Caprarius, is not a sight many people have heard of, but it’s a really cool underground kind of spot in Rome. Descend into the depths of Rome for a mere €4 as you venture under the streets of Rome and into the structure that shows you the history of the fountain and the city as you walk around ruins that have been there since before the fountain itself! Anoither atmopsheric spot, it's a really great place for photos and to see somehting a little different!