The Top Ten Places to Visit in Rome (That are not the Coliseum, Vatican or the Forum)
Everyone knows the big sites to see in Rome: the Coliseum and the Forum will fulfill any ancient history buff’s needs and the Vatican will always be there to inspire people but there is so much more in Rome to see. Rome has so much to offer every tourist outside the main sites, including churches, the largest park in Europe (and no it is not Villa Borghese), fascist style architecture and ancient monuments. However, many travelers are also looking for alternative things on what to do in Rome. So here is my list for the top ten things to see off the beaten path, the things most tourists miss.
- The MAXXI: The MAXXI is Rome’s newest museum and the country’s first modern art museum. It is located in Villa Borghese and is a great spot to see the modern in such an ancient city. The museum was built to resemble a massive transportation infrastructure and the building alone is enough to satisfy any modern art lover.
- Villa Doria Pamphili: This park holds the title for the largest park in Europe and it is definitely a park you can get lost in. Located in Monte Verde, there is a lake, numerous paths and a Roman aqueduct as well as the Villa that the property is named after. It is a great place to escape the city and spend the day relaxing. Take a bottle of Proseco and spend the day by the lake.
- Foro Italico and Stadio Olympico: An AS Roma game is always worth catching at Stadio Olympico but if you cannot make a match you should still stop by the Foro Italico. It was built by Mussolini and you can see the style of art he created in the statues commissioned by him, which are done in ancient styles with fascist themes.
- Pasquino: Located just outside Piazza Navona, this statue is definitely a must see. It was originally a piece of Hellenistic art work of Menelaus supporting Patroclus and it has been used as a monument for free speech in Rome since it was unearthed in Piazza di Pasquino Parione. It is where Romans to this day post anonymous pieces to voice their dissent about public figures and policies.
- Via Appia Antica: This ancient road is one of the best preserved Roman roads in the entire world. Once it was the road connecting Rome to an important port city to the west, integral to Roman trade and communication, now it is preserved so that people can visit and walk on the genius of Roman road engineering. You can reach it easily by metro A at the stop Colli Albani – Parco Appia Antica.
- The Catacombs: The catacombs are underground tombs located around Rome; there are five in all open to tourists. The tombs were all originally located outside the city of Rome and include Christian, Pagan and Jewish burials that date back to the second century; the tombs also contain many examples of early Christian sculptures and frescoes.
- Tomb of the Capuchin Monks: Located off of Via Veneto just up from Piazza Barberini, the crypt which is divided into five chapels is covered in decorative patterns created from the bones of over four thousand friars which were exhumed to cover the chapels in artistic patterns. It’s the perfect place to the see the macabre but beautiful.
- Santa Maria Sopra Minerva: This church, known as the only gothic church in Rome, not only is beautiful but also has Bernini’s white elephant statue outside and the “Christ the Redeemer” statue by Michelangelo inside. Located just south of the Pantheon it is definitely worth stopping by. You can also see the plaques on the outside which mark how high the Tiber River used to flood.
- The Ara Pacis: The Ara Pacis was built by Emperor Augustus in nine B.C. and is one of the most important examples of Augustan art and propaganda. It is now located just off Via Tomacelli near the Lungotevere in a modern building designed by Richard Meier which opened in 2006. The building itself is quite remarkable, with the walls made almost completely out of glass and a modern style fountain located outside. While at the Ara Pacis you can also see Augustus’ tomb just across the street and the museum located underneath the Ara Pacis.
- Pyramid of Cestius: The pyramid was built between eighteen and twelve B.C. for a Roman magistrate by the name of Cestius. The pyramid is most likely meant to commemorate his time spent on campaign in Egypt. It is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome as it was incorporated into the fortification walls. Located just off the metro stop Piramide on line B.
All of these sites are wonderful sites to see in Rome and help show the visitor a little more than just the major sites. All the big sites are wonderful of course but if you have a little extra time in Rome be sure to hit up some of these sites a little more off the beaten path!
Written by Ashley Babin who is currently living in Rome, Italy. Be sure to check out Ashley’s blog.