Rome, the Eternal City, is renowned for its ancient history, breathtaking architecture, and iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City. While these attractions are undoubtedly remarkable, the city has much more to offer than meets the eye. In this blog, we’ll take you on a journey through Rome’s hidden treasures—20 unusual and lesser-known sights that will add an extra layer of excitement and intrigue to your Roman adventure.

Aventine Keyhole

  1. The Aventine Keyhole: Nestled on the Aventine Hill, the Knights of Malta keyhole provides a stunning peephole view. Look through it to witness a perfectly framed sight of St. Peter’s Basilica.
  2. Domus Aurea: Explore the remains of Emperor Nero’s opulent palace, known as the “Golden House.” Take a guided tour through the underground galleries adorned with vibrant frescoes and marvel at the grandeur of ancient Rome.
  3. The Mouth of Truth: Legend has it that this ancient stone mask can detect lies. Test your honesty by placing your hand inside its mouth—just as Gregory Peck did in the classic film “Roman Holiday.”
  4. Capuchin Crypt: Visit the eerie yet fascinating Capuchin Crypt, where the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin friars are intricately arranged to create macabre decorations.

    Ancient Roman aqueducts - the Appian Way.

    Ancient Roman aqueducts along the Appian Way

  5. Appian Way: Step off the beaten path and walk along the ancient Appian Way, one of Rome’s earliest and most important roads. Admire the ancient ruins and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this historic route.
  6. Quartiere Coppedè: Transport yourself to a whimsical fairy-tale world in the Coppedè neighborhood. Marvel at the eclectic architecture, including fantastical buildings, arches, and sculptures, all exuding an enchanting atmosphere.
  7. Protestant Cemetery: Take a stroll through the Non-Catholic Cemetery, also known as the Protestant Cemetery, where famous figures such as John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley rest in eternal peace.
  8. Centrale Montemartini: Discover an intriguing blend of ancient sculptures and industrial machinery at Centrale Montemartini, an unconventional museum housed in a former power plant. Witness the unexpected fusion of art and technology.
  9. The Orange Garden: Escape the bustling city streets and seek tranquility at the Giardino degli Aranci. Savor breathtaking panoramic views of Rome and breathe in the fragrant citrus-scented air.

    Pyramid Cestius in Rome

    Cestius Pyramid

  10. Basilica di San Clemente: Descend beneath the present-day basilica to explore multiple layers of history. Discover a fourth-century church, an ancient Roman house, and even a pagan temple, all stacked upon each other.
  11. Doria Pamphilj Gallery: Get lost in the vast art collection housed within the Doria Pamphilj Palace. This hidden gem features works by artists such as Velázquez, Caravaggio, and Raphael, presented in an intimate setting.
  12. EUR District: Admire the modernist architecture of the EUR district, originally built for the 1942 World Exposition. This planned neighborhood features impressive buildings, wide avenues, and captivating sculptures.
  13. Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts: Uncover the bone-chilling beauty of the Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts. Adorned with human bones, these crypts serve as a haunting reminder of the transience of life.
  14. Baths of Caracalla: Explore the majestic ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, an ancient thermal bath complex that once served as a luxurious retreat for Roman citizens. Marvel at the impressive architecture and imagine the grandeur of this expansive facility.
  15. The Pyramid of Cestius: Venture beyond the typical Roman landmarks and discover an unexpected Egyptian-inspired monument. The Pyramid of Cestius, dating back to 12 BC, stands as a unique testament to the city’s diverse architectural heritage.
  16. The Keats-Shelley House: Literature enthusiasts will delight in visiting the Keats-Shelley House, a museum dedicated to the lives and works of renowned Romantic poets such as John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Explore the preserved rooms and browse the extensive collection of manuscripts and memorabilia.
  17. The Protestant Cemetery: Step into a serene oasis at the Protestant Cemetery, known for its lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere. Pay homage to the final resting place of notable figures from history and literature, including Keats, Shelley, and Antonio Gramsci.

    KPalazzo Spadalo optical illusion

    Palazzo Spada illusion

  18. Palazzo Spada: Prepare to be deceived at Palazzo Spada, where an optical illusion creates the illusion of an infinitely long gallery. Admire the clever architectural trickery in the courtyard, where perspective plays with your perception. The optical illusion is located in the Palazzo’s courtyard and consists of a colonnaded gallery dating to the 17th-century. The colonnaded leads to a heroic statue of Mars. However, what Borromini really created was a perspective gallery. The corridor is much shorter and the sculpture much smaller than they actually appear. The hall is only 26 feet (8 meters) long and the statue is only 24 inches (60 centimeters) high.
  19. Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio: For those intrigued by the macabre and spiritual, a visit to the Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio is a must. This unique museum showcases artifacts and testimonials that allegedly prove the existence of purgatory and the afterlife.
  20. Cinecittà Studios: Experience the magic of Italian cinema at Cinecittà Studios, the legendary film studio where renowned directors like Federico Fellini brought their visions to life. Take a behind-the-scenes tour, explore elaborate sets, and learn about the fascinating history of Italian filmmaking.

Rome is a city that continuously surprises and captivates visitors with its rich history and cultural heritage. While the well-known landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City rightfully command attention, exploring the city’s hidden gems can provide a deeper and more intimate connection to its past. From secret gardens and crypts to ancient ruins and optical illusions, these 20 unusual sights will offer a fresh perspective on the Eternal City, allowing you to uncover its lesser-known treasures and create unforgettable memories of your Roman adventure. So, pack your curiosity and embark on an extraordinary journey through Rome’s hidden wonders.