All the Beauty, None of the Crowds
Once you have visited the Colosseum and Vatican Museums, take a break from the crowds at those in-demand venues and bask in the beauty of places that only attract travelers in the know. In spite of the city's notorious crowds, it's easy to escape the throngs by steering clear of major monuments. Even in high season, you will find public parks, most museum collections and many churches are scarcely visited, splendidly empty, and ripe for visitors eager to go one-on-one with Rome's treasures.

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Plain Facade But Wonders Inside

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This small Romanesque basilica looks very plain from the outside but venture inside and you'll be captivated by its riches. Just behind the Pantheon is the Piazza della Minerva, whose focal point is an sculpture of a baby elephant sculpted by Bernini in 1667. Once inside the basilica you'll be surprised at its size and the beautiful vaulted ceiling. Built on a Temple to Minerva you can find ruins of the temple in the crypt and on warm days its a cool place to explore. A sculpture in the apse, Christ Bearing the Cross, was carved by Michelangelo for the church in 1521. Saint Catherine's body is buried under the altar although her head resides in Siena –– long story. Fra Angelico paintings can be found here as well as his burial site. This place is packed with lots to see and little known by most tourists. Highly recommend.

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