As one of the world’s biggest tourist traps, finding hidden gems in the Italian capital may seem like mission impossible. As Rome grows in popularity, its alternative alleyways become mainstream and breaking away from the camera-clad tourists is a difficult feat. However we’ve done some digging and come up with eight of Rome’s best kept secrets that even the locals won’t know about.
A Roman one of a kind, the Pyramid of Cestius has been standing since 12 AD. Constructed as a burial monument for Gaius Cestius, the tomb is located near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery, in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Testaccio. Take a step back in time and book a tour of the interior that was raided over the years and stripped of its treasures. Easily accessed, the structure even has a metro station named after it - so hop on and get off at Piramide to witness one of Rome’s best kept secrets.
Tucked between the trees of Villa Torlonia park, the fairytale-like home and museum of Casina delle Civette is a must-see when visiting Rome. Designed by neo-classical architect Giuseppe Valadier, the house was built to resemble a Swiss cabin with stained glass windows, loggias, porticos and turrets. Famed for being the state residence of Mussolini from the 1920s onwards, the home originally belonged to the noble Torlonia family and is now a museum open to the public.
A real hidden gem, the tiny residential street of Via Bernardo Celentano is located in Flaminio, Rome’s northern neighbourhood. Lined with multi-coloured Liberty-style row houses, the street is meant to replicate a “little London” in an attempt to transform Rome into a proper European metropolis by the then Mayor Ernesto Nathan. Head off-the-beaten-track and spend the afternoon wandering past the private gardens and wrought iron fences – you’ll almost forget you’re in Italy.
This small, 16th century Roman Catholic basilica has more to it than meets the eye. Dedicated to Pope Clement 1, the hidden treasure of this location lies beneath the surface. Pay a small fee and venture underground to the lower level where you can still see the 4th century clandestine church that forms the foundations of the basilica. Boasting 2,000 years of history, this gem is worth having a look around if not for its spectacular mosaics and frescos alone.
Sitting in the courtyard of San Pietro in the Gianicolo neighbourhood, the Tempietto del Bramante is one of Rome’s greatest examples of High Renaissance architecture. Commissioned by King Ferdinand and his wife Queen Isabella for their son who died, the circular temple features columns, a curved balcony and a dome. Reflecting Brunelleschi’s harmonious style, the temple is one of the city’s most forgotten architectural sights.
If you’re a fan of optical illusions, this next one will really knock your socks off. Nestled behind Villa Doria Pamphili park, this street casts a new light on the famous St. Peter’s Basilica. Most effective on wheels, drive towards the structure and watch as it moves further into the distance the closer you get. Drive away and see one of the city’s most famous landmarks expand in size and rise up from the ground. You won’t believe it until you see it!
Get spellbinding views over the city from the quiet oasis at Janiculum Hill. Nicknamed the 8th Hill of Rome, the green space is located just north of the Vatican City, above Trastevere. It may be a little bit of a climb, but the views at the top are more than worth breaking a little sweat for. Be sure to check out the cannon at Piazzale Garibaldi that fires consistently at midday and the 17th century Aqua Paola fountain. Escape the crowds and spend a few hours in peace as you watch the city thrive below you.
Hidden within the northern Trieste district, Rome’s smallest district is potentially the prettiest place in the city. Explore the fairytale-esque quarter by entering it at the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento. A sensory overload, the area is a fantastic mixture of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Medieval and Art Nouveau. Look around you at the Florentine towers and marvel at the Venetian palazzi decorated in mosaics and frescos. Used as a setting for numerous films, the Quartiere Coppede truly is one of Rome’s best kept secrets.
Planning on heading to Rome soon? Make sure to tag us in your photos of Rome’s best kept secrets using the hashtag #ryanairstories for the chance to be featured on Ryanair’s social media channels.
Flights to Rome
- Lucy Norris