Rome hidden gems: the ultimate guide – part 5

If you missed part 4 of this Hidden Gems Guide, click on this link: Rome Hidden Gems: the Ultimate Guide – part 4

Now let’s continue with the fifth part!

37) An ancient Roman apartment building

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No one ever notices this when walking around Piazza Venezia 😭

Every time we do tours around this area we see people giving nothing more than a quick glance to this marvel..

This is the insula (Latin word for ancient Roman apartment building) of Ara Coeli. A six-storey high building that looked not so different from our modern condominiums today!

You’re probably surprised to find out Ancient Rome had apartment buildings, but think about it: if in the 2nd century Rome had over 1million inhabitants, where did all those people leave??!

This is the only apartment building still surviving today in such good shape in the city of Rome, and that is also because it was reutilized.. as a church!

We can see traces of that church thanks to that fresco depicting a Christian scene. The church was moved somewhere else in the 1930s and this building was uncovered to show what is left today of it.

📍Piazza d’Aracoeli, 1

Discover more about this Ancient Roman apartment building while in Rome, with our walking tour Walking through the Capitoline hill and the Imperial Forums! 🙌

38) Coppedè neighbourhood

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Have you ever been in the Coppedè neighbourhood?

This neighbourhood was designed by the architect Gino Coppedè in the 1920s. Initially Coppedè was meant to make a whole neighbourhood, much bigger than what we find today. But unfortunately his ideas and his style wasn’t appreciated at the time, and his project stopped at these few buildings that we see today.

We call it neighbourhood, but it’s just a couple of streets crossing each other, with the that lively little fountain in the middle. And so worth exploring it! 🧡

📍Piazza Mincio

39) Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto in Trastevere

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What happens when a church is built by pasta makers and produce sellers? The result is this marvellous hidden gem in Trastevere: the church of Santa Maria dell’Orto!

The name translates literally in St Mary in the vegetable garden. When you enter this church, look at the details, you’ll be surprised 😉

📍Via Anicia, 10

40) Ludus Magnus, the gladiators’ training center

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When you are at the Colosseum, you only need to cross the street to discover the Ludus Magnus!

The Ludus Magnus are the one and only gladiator training center still visible today. This is where the gladiators used to train for the shows, where they learned their fighting techniques and where they prepared the most spectacular shows for the entertainment of the people of Rome.

📍Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano

41) Moses of Michelangelo

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No queues, no tickets, no bookings. It only takes a beautiful and open church to see such incredible wonders. Very close to the Colosseum and in the Monti district you have the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains). In this church, which is one of the most ancient churches of Rome, you will find the chains that held Saint Peter prisoner. Look for them below the altar. Then look at your right, you will see the amazing Moses of Michelangelo! This was meant to be part of the tomb of pope Julius II, which was never completed. Imagine if it was! 😉

📍Church of San Pietro in Vincoli. Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 4/A

42) Orto Botanico. The Botanical Garden of Rome

This is literally a jungle in the city: the Botanical Garden of Rome. You would never expect to find such an extensive garden in the heart of Trastevere! This garden belongs to the Sapienza university, and it includes endless species of plants, trees, flowers, and also a butterfly house with activities for kids. It’s a dream place to visit, especially in the spring.
Probably one of Rome’s best kept secrets! 😉

📍Largo Cristina di Svezia, 23 A

43) Passetto del Biscione

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Another one of those Rome hidden gems real close to a popular sight. Start from Campo de’ Fiori and after tasting a delicious pizza bianca in the Forno, head down to the corner of the square, towards the Cinema Farnese. You end up in Piazza del Biscione, which is already a super pretty place. But now look for a small gate which opens into a super little alley. So little, that it is not called “vicolo” (alley), but we refer to it as “passetto” (little passage). The name it self is already so charming and we cannot resist! We enter this little gem and we see heavenly frescoes all over. But this is not over! Walk until the end, exit the passetto and look to your right. You will see one of the most photogenic corners of Rome, with the dome of Sant’Andrea della Valle framed by pastel colored buildings.

📍Passetto del Biscione, 91-99

44) Arco degli Acetari

rome hidden gems arco acetari
A corner of heaven in the center of Rome!

Another of the Rome hidden gems next to Campo de’ Fiori. This time we are going the opposite direction than the Passetto del Biscione. We walk along Palazzo della Cancelleria, but keep your eyes open, no distractions allowed. This place is in fact so hidden that you can easily miss it. When you see the sign “Arco degli Acetari” it’s time to go in. Forget about being in the center of the city. You are now in a village inside the city, where time stopped some time ago.

This is by far one of the most photogenic corners of the city. And a magical way to surprise someone special 😉

📍Via del Pellegrino, 19

45) The church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

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One of the smallest churches of Rome. Did you know in fact that the whole church is as big as one of the pilasters of St Peter’s basilica??! This little gem is by far my favourite church of Rome. It is so small and cozy, everything is white and soft, it feels like walking into a cloud, it feels comforting. This is a church out of the ordinary to be in Rome and most of all, to be made in the 1600s. In fact San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane was designed by Francesco Borromini, whose style was pretty simple and “modern” for his times. That is why he wasn’t totally appreciated during his time, but he is way more appreciated today. His style matched way more the taste of today, than of the 1600s. A artist way beyond his times.

📍Via del Quirinale, 23

Be sure to read part 6

To read the third part of this Hidden Gems of Rome Guide, click on this link: Rome hidden gems: the ultimate guide – part 6

Map of the hidden gems of Rome by Live Virtual Guide

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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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