7+1 underground hidden gems in Rome

Discover the hidden underground city of Rome

rome underground
One of the hidden gems underground Rome: the Stadium of Domitian

You already fell in love with Rome and things are getting serious. So it’s time to make that next step and get to know the most secret places of the city. The ones that very few people know. Do you relate to this? Then look no further, it’s time to go beyond the surface and move underground!
The concept of going “underground” Rome has always been a very fascinating one. But very few people know what exactly to look for apart from the Rome catacombs..

That’s why I am here for, so I am sharing now with you a list of unmissable underground hidden gems of Rome, especially selected for you! 😉

This list is not comprehensive of all the things you could explore underground Rome (can we even count?!). But surely it is a good start to get that mind-blowing feeling that only few places on heart like this city can do 😊

Let’s start! Take note of these 7+1 underground hidden gems in Rome!

1) Vicus Caprarius

I am telling you, when I posted this video about the Vicus Caprarius on TikTok.. my account literally exploded. There must be a reason! 😜

This is a truly hidden gem of Rome, that so often tourists and locals overlook. The Vicus Caprarius is nearby the Trevi Fountain, it is located underground and down there you can see the ruins of the ancient Roman water tank of the Virgo aqueduct, that still today provides water to the Trevi Fountain, the Fountain of the Four rivers in Piazza Navona, the Barcaccia fountain in Spanish steps and more! Apart from the water tank, you will also be able to see the ruins of an ancient Roman wealthy house. This house was located right next to it, and some luxury items that were found inside, such as marbles and colorful mosaics. Next to all of this you can find the old cinema Trevi, which today is as a center for events. The cinema overlooks this fabulous archaeological site through a glass window. Unmissable!

For info and bookings: https://www.vicuscaprarius.com/

2) Archaeological site underground Santa Cecilia basilica

rome underground
The underground archaeological site below the church of Saint Cecilia

The complex of the church of Saint Cecilia is located in the Trastevere district. Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of the musicians and her church in Trastevere is what I like to define a “lasagna of history”! In fact, the church that you see today, was built right on top of the martyrdom location of Cecilia, which was.. in her ancient Roman house!

It takes only a €2,5 ticket to the nuns to take some steps and feel like you are time-travelling almost 2000 years back! Below the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere you will find the ruins of an ancient Roman insula (apartment building) where Cecilia was martyrized. Be ready to see mosaics, sarcophagus, pottery and a majestic (modern) crypt where the sarcophagus of Cecilia is still kept today!For info about opening times (only in Italian, use Google translate): http://www.benedettinesantacecilia.it/htm/info%20e%20contatti.htm

3) Rinascente department store

We are now entering a department store, but we are not here for shopping.

The Rinascente is located in via del Tritone, in between Spanish Steps and Trevi fountain. Is this a random location to go underground? Not at all.

Enter the Rinascente, walk through the fabulous handbags and designer shoes (refrain from shopping and keep walking). Then take the escalator to level -1. Then you’ll walk through the kitchenware section where you’ll make a left and walk until the end of the building. This is where you start to understand. This is where you’ll eventually see what I am talking about!The ancient wall you see in front of you is the ancient Roman aqueduct, the Virgo Aqueduct, in its journey between Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain! This is where the water that ends up in Vicus Caprarius and, eventually, in the Trevi Fountain flows through! Oh and by the way, you can treat your self to a drink at the bar which is right next to it.

Underground, but with a view! 😉This my reel about it: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSpF3SXjaim/?utm_medium=copy_link

4) Domus Aurea

Do I really need to describe this?! This is not a hidden gem, but I’ve decided to include it in this list because it has just recently reopened to the public after years of restorations, so it felt to me like a sort of hidden gem 😊

The Domus Aurea is the super duper luxury villa that the emperor Nero built for himself. Nero built this villa after the great fire of Rome in 64AD, which is the reason why the Romans blamed him responsible of the fire.

The following emperors dismantled and used the Domus Aurea as foundations for the Thermal Baths of Trajan, by filling the whole villa with ground, this is why today it is underground. This is what kept the Domus Aurea in a relatively good shape. And today you can walk through the rooms of this marvelous villa. Here you can admire the mosaics, the fantastic frescoes on the walls and most of all, the Octagonal room at the end of the tour! I think the frescoes are the most impressive part and how could they not be when the name of the painter that made them is Fabullus? 😜Have a look at this short reel I made of it: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CRg6gPeozU3/?utm_medium=copy_link

5) San Crisogono underground

rome underground
The underground archaeological site of San Crisogono and its medieval frescoes

We are in Trastevere again, in the very heart of it. Not only this is one of the most ancient churches of Rome, but also a super lasagna of history! 😜 But let’s go straight to the lowest layer, 8 meters below the ground level. This is where you can find the ancient basilica from the 4th century, frescoes with such vivid colors and ancient decorations. The space you can actually explore below this church is massive! Go for it!There is no website for this site, you can find the contact details and address in here: https://www.turismoroma.it/en/places/basilica-saint-crisogono

6) The archaeological site beneath San Lorenzo in Lucina

We are nearby via del Corso, and this is the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. The names comes from the fact that before Christians were allowed to build churches, the religious ceremonies were taking place in private houses of Christians that made those houses available to the community. Later, when building churches was possible, the churches were built on top of those ancient Roman houses, and that is one of the reasons why underneath churches you can often find ancient houses, like in here below San Lorenzo in Lucina! The space to explore is huge and it really does feel exploring an unknown place, even though you are in the middle of the city!There is no website for this site, you can find the contact details and address in here: https://www.turismoroma.it/en/places/basilica-san-lorenzo-lucina

7) Stadium of Domitian (beneath Piazza Navona)

rome underground
An area of the underground archaeological site of the Stadium of Domitian

How many times have you walked in Piazza Navona? Have you ever wondered why the square has that particular shape? Nothing is by chance in this city, in fact Piazza Navona was built right on top of the ancient Stadium of Domitian, and this is where that hairpin shape is coming from. You can visit what’s left of the Stadium of Domitian.. by going underground the modern buildings that encircle the square today! Enjoy Piazza Navona from this new spectacular point of view! 😉Have a look yourselves in here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CRO8p-EIby7/?utm_medium=copy_link

And the bonus entry is…

8) Colosseum underground

rome underground
A picture I took during the “VIP Colosseum At Night Tour With Underground & Arena Floor”

This is a bonus entry, because it is not a hidden gem at all 😜 However the Colosseum has only recently opened a new underground section, which means you can walk the underground corridors of the arena from one end to the other! It’s a great chance to explore this marvel again, but with a different perspective. Imagine walking around the arena floor and the underground tunnels the same place where lions and tigers where roaring, slaves sweating and running and gladiators’ hearts pounding.. What a vibe!

rome underground
The underground corridors of the Colosseum!

Tour operator “Walks” offers a great “VIP Colosseum At Night Tour With Underground & Arena Floor“.

This tour walks you through an amazing guided journey from the ruins of the Roman empire until the underground corridors and the arena level of the Colosseum (which means: gladiators’ perspective!).

And to make it even more magical.. imagine all of this.. under the stars!

Try this unforgettable experience: https://www.takewalks.com/rome-tours/colosseum-night-tour-underground/?tap_a=29785-54b413&tap_s=2088086-abdcc3

This was my list of only some of the underground wonders that you can find in Rome. Now you have to promise me you’ll go through each and everyone of them! 😉 I just LOOOOOVE when you share your experience on social media, so if you go make sure you take a pic/video and tag Live Virtual Guide 😉

Was this list useful to you? Let me know in the comments and share this article with your friends! 😉

Thanks for reading and enjoy your Roman underground hidden gems! 😉

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Written by Federica

Creative director of Live Virtual Guide. Her favorite things are gelato, pizza and the hidden gems of Rome.

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