Five of Rome's Hidden Gems
As one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, Rome hosts millions of tourists each year. The crowds at major tourist draws can get overwhelming, so we’ve put together some tips to avoid the masses and discover some hidden gems.
#1. The Vatican Scavi
With over 30,000 visitors per day, Vatican City is a major hub for tourists. Even with “skip the line” passes or the foresight to get in line for tickets at the crack of dawn, you can find yourself waiting for hours and hours to just to get a foot in the door. However, some of the Vatican’s greatest treasures are actually located below the ground…
The Vatican Scavi Tour takes guests through the excavation sites below St. Peter’s Basilica. Over the past half century, archaeologists have been studying and uncovering graves and artifacts buried beneath the church. Including what is believed to be the tomb of Saint Peter himself. Tickets to this tour sell out well in advance, so plan ahead. However, if you are able to get tickets, you will be one of only 250 guests allowed into the sacred and mysterious world beneath the surface of Vatican City. Tours run daily, but do not occur on some religious holidays. Check the Vatican website for details.
#2. The Rose and Orange Gardens
The Roman Rose and Orange Gardens are the perfect reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. The two gardens sit adjacent to each other on the Aventine Hill across from the Circus Maximus. The Rose Garden – or Roseto Comunale – is only open from April through June each year, but if you happen to visit during the blooming season you can view the 1,000 rose varietals that are planted there. Further up the hill, the Orange Garden (Parco Savello) features dozens of fruit trees as well as a paved veranda with a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Grab a panini or pizza before you head up the hill and enjoy a beautiful picnic with a view!
#3. The Jewish Ghetto
While Rome may be the center of the Catholic world, one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in Rome is the Jewish Ghetto (Ghetto Ebraico). Filled with a plethora of Jewish and Roman history, the neighborhood features a stunning synagogue, museum, and ancient ruins. Guided tours of the neighborhood are offered, and audio tours can be found online. With so much history packed into a small area, it’s a good idea to do some research ahead of time so you don’t miss important spots. The ghetto is also a popular dining area for locals, so end your tour with a visit to a bakery or kosher restaurant to try the neighborhood's famous artichoke dish!
#4. Campo de' Fiori Market
Located near the center of the city, Campo de’ Fiori is one of Rome’s many beautiful piazzas. However, the area truly comes to life every morning with a bustling local farmer’s market. Open from 7am to 1:30pm Monday-Saturday, this charming market features stalls with everything from fresh flowers to perfectly aged balsamic vinegars. Frequented by both locals and tourists, you can spend just as much time people watching as shopping. Come prepared to haggle for the best bargain!
#5. Opera at the Baths of Caracalla
What better to spend an evening in Rome than to enjoy a spectacular opera or ballet? While performances are plentiful in the city, one especially stunning venue is the the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla). This expansive bath house was completed in 217 AD by Emperor Caracalla and was able to host up to 10,000 bathing, exercising, and socializing Romans. The stunning ruins are open daily to the public, but during the summer they are also the host of Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera. Check online for tickets and dates ahead of time to enjoy some of Italy’s finest artists in one of Rome’s stunning ruins.
Whether you're visiting Rome for the first time, or frequently travel to the beautiful city, there will always be a new hidden gem for you to discover!