Rome Away from the Crowds
Collected by Katie Parla, AFAR Local Expert
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.
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
The Baths of Caracalla, a third century bathing complex located near the Circus Maximus, was the center of social life for tens of thousands of Romans who would gather there—around 10,000 at a time—to exercise, bathe, and relax. Admission was...
Via del Caravita, 8a, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
While a lot of people would go see the Sistine Chapel when visiting Rome, fewer travelers venture out to this grand church at the Piazza di San Ignacio near the Pantheon, which features an almost equally beautiful painted ceiling done by Andrea...
Viale della Marina, 40-42, 00122 Lido di Ostia RM, Italy
According to legend, Rome’s first orange tree—St. Dominic’s gift to the pope—was planted in Giardino degli Aranci (Garden of the Oranges) in the 13th century. The secluded park provides a panoramic view of the city, from...
Piazza della Minerva, 42, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Just behind the Pantheon hides the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a gem in its own right. The only Gothic church in Rome's center, it's a breath of fresh air from over-the-top Baroque opulence. Plus, it has gorgeous frescoes by Filippo Lippi...
Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
One of our family favorite activities on a Sunday afternoon in Rome is a wander in the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Testaccio. We particularly love it in winter. I know, it is more picturesque and colorful in the spring and early summer, but even on...
Largo di Villa Peretti, 2, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
Piazzale Napoleone I, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
Encompassing early 200 acres of rolling parkland, Villa Borghese is Rome's verdant heart and everyone's favorite place for an afternoon walk. The vast gardens are criss-crossed with picturesque paths, where visitors can meander past ancient...
Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
In 1589, the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi became the official church of Rome’s French community, and with true Bourbon flair, the church's decorations are a celebration of France's power and wealth, with gilded stucco, lavish...
Via Ostiense, 106, 00154 Roma RM, Italy
Tired of the crowds? Go to the Centrale Montemartini in Ostiense. No lines. In fact, no other people. At all. Usually I am the only one there. Wander the ancient Roman sculptures and extraordinary mosaic floor set in the former power plant;...
Via della Caffarella, Roma RM, Italy
The Parco della Caffarella is part of the larger Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica, a vast public park that is protected from development. Just a short walk from the city center, and flanked by a dense neighborhood, the Parco della Caffarella...
Viale della Moschea, 85, 00199 Roma RM, Italy
Whenever I travel, I always try to seek out local mosques. There are spectacular odes to marble and calligraphy across the "Muslim" world and far beyond, ranging from the mammoth Hassan II mosque in Casablanca to a charming sea-green confection in...
Piazza Giovanni Agnelli, 10, 00144 Roma RM, Italy
The Museo Della Civiltà Romana (Museum of Roman Civilization) is a fascinating destination. Made up largely of replicas of Roman artwork and scale models of Roman buildings (including an impressive scale model of the city of Rome as it appeared...
Via di Santa Prassede, 9, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
The 8th century Saint Zeno Chapel in the Church of Santa Prassede was built by Pope Paschal to serve as a funeral chapel for his mother Theodora. The Pope employed talented artisans to bedazzle the chapel in gold and glass mosaics, which can still...
Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Most visitors to Piazza Bocca della Verità are enticed by the so-called Mouth of Truth, an ancient drain cover anchored to a wall inside the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The Mouth of Truth features a carved face with a gaping...
Lungotevere dei Mellini, 35, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The Altar of Peace, also known by its ancient name, Ara Pacis, is a 1st century BC monument embellished with marble reliefs. The structure's carved stone surfaces depict religious processions and allegories, all of which glorify the family and...
Via Raffaele Persichetti, 3, 00166 Roma RM, Italy
The 3rd century Aurelian Walls stretched for 12 miles around the city. Measuring a distance of 12 miles in circumference, the defensive circuit is Rome's largest ancient building. There a dozen gateways in the wall, each of which provided access...
Via Nazionale, 194, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
Mussolini developed this residential and business district in southern Rome in the 1930s and 1940s for a pair of propagandistic motives. The first was to host the 1942 world's fair called the Esposizione Universale di Roma (abbreviated EUR), while...
Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Many believe the Basilica di Santa Maria was the first church built in Rome. While archaeologists can't definitively corroborate this claim, this landmark remains of supreme importance to locals who come to worship beneath its gilded ceiling. The...
Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 4/a, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
When Pope Julius II envisioned his tomb more than 500 years ago, he commissioned Michelangelo to build a monumental structure featuring dozens of marble sculptures. The over-the-top mausoleum was meant to stand in St Peter's Basilica, but plans...
Via di Villa Giulia, 9, 00196 Roma RM, Italy
Though the Borghese Gallery is the best known museum in the Villa Borghese, there are a number of others, including the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, home to one of the world's most expansive collection of Etruscan relics. The building...
Via Catalana, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The history of Jews in Rome is an ancient and complex study spanning nearly twenty-two centuries. The community—today there are around 13,000 members—is a small but important facet of the city’s cultural fabric and, though you often have to go on...
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