An alternative Rome tour.
You know that the Colosseum and Vatican are unmissable, but what about the rest? There are so many things to see in Rome, and it’d be a shame to miss them just because they’re not quite as famous as the Colosseum. From evocative Roman ruins to underrated museums, these are some of the highlights of an alternative tour of Rome.
Our top 10 things to see in Rome.
1. San Clemente – a Rome architecture tour in itself. This fascinating church near the Colosseum hides a multi-layered subterranean labyrinth of ruins, including the remains of a 4th century church, the house of a Roman nobleman and a pagan temple. A tour of San Clemente is the perfect way to learn about the rich history and architecture of Rome.
2. Domus Aurea – the sprawling ruins of Nero’s pleasure palace. Until recently, the Domus Aurea was not open to the public, but it’s now possible to join a guided tour of these atmospheric ruins. Although the idea of a virtual reality headset may sound gimmicky, this part of the tour is done very
well, and really helps you to imagine just how opulent the Domus Aurea would have been in Nero’s day.
3. Palazzo Altemps – one of the most underrated museums in Rome. Located a stone’s throw from Piazza Navona, this Renaissance palace contains splendid artworks from antiquity, such as the magnificent Ludovisi Battle Sarcophagus and a striking statue of a Gaul committing suicide.
4. Villa dei Quintili – an evocative Roman villa on the Appian Way. Most visitors to the Appian Way don’t make it that far down, stopping off at the catacombs before returning to the city centre. However, it’s worth venturing a bit further down the road to visit the atmospheric Villa dei Quintilli, which was once home to the emperor Commodus (he had the owners killed and took the villa for himself).
5. La Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain) – an unusual fountain in one of Rome’s most charming squares. One of the best things to do in Rome is take a stroll through the Jewish Ghetto, exploring its backstreets and the area around Piazza Mattei. As you’ll discover on your tour of Rome, there’s an intriguing myth behind the origins of the Turtle Fountain…
6. Villa Farnesina – a spectacular Renaissance villa in Trastevere. Despite being home to frescoes by Raphael (Cupid and Psyche and The Triumph of Galatea), as well as other works by Renaissance masters, Villa Farnesina doesn’t attract the visitors it deserves. Well worth a visit, to enjoy the art and gain an insight into Renaissance high society.
7. Chiesa di Sant’Anselmo – After visiting the beautiful Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta on the Aventine Hill and looking through the keyhole (sadly no longer such a secret), pay a visit to the church of Sant’Anselmo. On Sunday evenings you can listen to Gregorian chanting, sung by the monks of the adjacent monastery.
8. Centrale Montemartini – an excellent museum on Via Ostiense. With so many things to see in Rome, and most of them involving museums, you might be thinking “Not another one!” But Centrale Montemartini is worth it, especially if you enjoy more unconventional museums. Ancient Roman statues are displayed in the unusual setting of a power plant, juxtaposed against the machinery.
9. Chiesa di San Francesco a Ripa – the home of a masterpiece by the Baroque sculptor Bernini. While you’ll have to fight crowds to see most of Bernini’s greatest works, his stunning statue of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni is tucked away in a lesser-known church in Trastevere. Visit at the right time, and you might even have the place to yourself.
10. Via Piccolomini – a street with an optical illusion. If you feel like you’ve done it all, and are wondering what to see in Rome, pop up to Via Piccolomini in a car or on the back of a scooter, and experience the illusion for yourself…
For more ideas and inspiration, ask Roads to Rome Tours.
Our guides are locals, expert archaeologists who know Rome inside out. If you’re looking for other things to see in Rome – particularly attractions off the beaten path – don’t hesitate to contact us!
Read more: 25 ultimate things to do in Rome (Fodors)