Rome is one of the world’s biggest and most famous tourist destinations. People travel from all over to visit this ancient and wonderful city. When you think of visiting, you probably think of the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, or Trevi Fountain. These destinations are definitely on everyone’s “must-see” lists when visiting, but the city has a lot more to offer. As someone who has visited many times, I like to get out of the typical sights and see something unique each time I visit–after seeing the ruins of Rome!
Here are some activities I found after seeing Rome over the years that might not be on your immediate list. (Head here for some Rome travel tips!)
Check out the street art
One fantastic way to experience the Eternal City in a new way is to rent a Vespa and go check out the city’s street art. You can either go for a free-form cruise on your own or you can book a guided tour–just wear your helmet. This ancient city can be seen in a more contemporary light by viewing the vibrant work of famous street artists like Diamond or Blu. This exciting and inspiring modern art is a beautiful way to experience both the old and the new in the city with so much history.
Take a ride on the Appian Way
Book a tour or rent a bike and go for a ride on the Appian Way. This ancient, 2300-year-old cobblestone road meanders through the countryside near Rome and provides a break from the busy city. You’ll see beautiful historic sites that are often missed by tourists who choose to focus on the main sights, while casually cruising past ruins of an ancient circus ring, Christian catacombs, a pagan mausoleum, and Roman aqueducts. The best day to do this is on a Sunday, when the area is closed to traffic. Some of Rome’s best-preserved catacombs, such as the Catacombs of San Sebastiano and San Callisto, are located near the Appian way and can be visited with just a slight detour.
Saint Paul Outside the Wall
Saint Pauls Outside the Wall is a popular pilgrimage destination for many Catholics. One of the four major basilicas of Rome, Saint Paul Outside the Wall is not nearly as popular as St. Peter’s Basilica due to its out-of-the-way location in Ostiense–and the crowds and much easier to deal with. This site is where Saint Paul was said to have been executed and its rather long-winded name comes from the fact that it was originally located outside of the original walls of Rome.
The Coppede District
The gorgeous and diverse district of Rome is definitely worth taking the time to check out. Take a stroll one afternoon through the Coppede neighborhood, named after the flamboyant architect, Gino Coppede. You can appreciate the wide-ranging influences this architect took on from ancient Greek, Medieval, Art Nouveau, and Baroque buildings. A stroll here is a great way to spend a few hours away from the touristy crowds of Rome.
Galleria Sciarra is a true hidden gem hidden right in plain sight and just steps from the crowded and popular Trevi Fountain. By Roman standards, the façade of the building doesn’t appear that impressive, so many tourists will just simply walk on past. But once you enter the courtyard inside, you will be glad that you did. The Art Nouveau frescoes painted by Giuseppe Cellini in the 19th century are absolutely stunning. Today, the building is occupied by offices of various businesses, but the courtyard is open to the public, so you can pop right in for a short visit.
This popular Sunday flea market is a true slice of life in today’s Rome. Founded after WWII, the market in the Trastavere district is a great place to experience local culture and browse for antiques or gifts for family and friends (it’s a sustainable choice too!). Here you’ll find everything from priceless Roman antiques to discount household items. You may find a unique souvenir to take home! The true beauty of this experience is in mingling with the local people of Rome and seeing what their day-to-day is like.
There are many non-touristy things to do in Rome–many didn’t even make this list. These are just options for activities that you can visit that offer a different side of this amazing city.
What are you favorite things to see in Italy that are a bit off-the-beaten path?