Whether you’re in Rome for the first time, or you live in Rome, it’s time to go beyond the most known places of the Eternal city! It’s time to know some of the hidden gems of Rome.
A mistake that many tourists make when visiting Rome is planning for just a couple of days, thinking that the Colosseum and the Vatican are the only things to do in Rome.
If you ask me what’s the ideal length of your stay in Rome to see everything, I think you should move here for several months, if not years!
In Rome we say that a lifetime is not enough to see everything. And this is literally true! Even though I am always going after hidden gems of the city, I still have a long list in front of me of things to see.
Which makes it fun and a never ending discovery.
But how do we find these hidden gems in Rome? How do you get to these secret places that will make your Roman holiday so special?
If you want to know, then look no further! At Live Virtual Guide we are specialized in hidden gems of Rome 😉 and this is our Ultimate Rome hidden gems guide!
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The ultimate Rome hidden gems guide by Live Virtual Guide
1) The Ancient Pharmacy of Santa Maria della Scala
Where else can you smell the ancient antidote against poisons of the emperor Nero??
If you are looking for a REAL hidden gem in Rome, the Ancient Pharmacy is a must-see for you. You don’t buy a ticket at a cashier, you don’t enter big museum doors, the signs with indications on how to get in are quite small and hidden.. It is often by word of mouth that visitors end up in this ancient pharmacy. The tour inside the ancient pharmacy is given by a friar of the Discalced Carmelites order, the order that has been running the pharmacy since its beginnings.
You will have to get in touch with him through this email: email@example.com to ask for tour dates and times.
To know more about the pharmacy read this.
📍Piazza della Scala, 23
Want to know how to fit as many hidden gems as possible into an itinerary for when you are in Rome? We put together over 90 sights off the beaten path into ready-to-walk itineraries that you can discover with our Video Guide before you travel to Rome! 😉
2) Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Few steps away from the Pantheon, here you can admire this beautiful statue from Michelangelo, the superb ceilings of the only gothic church in Rome.. and much more!
Rome has more than 900 churches, and it’s incredible how each and every one of them has something special!
For example.. you enter randomly the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (right behind the Pantheon).. and you find yourself in front of a Michelangelo sculpture ❤️
At the time of writing this article, this church is only partially open due to renovation works. You can visit it at specific times: every day between 5pm and 6:45pm, and you enter from the back door.
📍 Piazza della Minerva, 42
3) The chapel of San Zenone in the church of Santa Prassede
The chapel of San Zenone (in the Basilica of Santa Prassede) was dedicated by Pope Pasquale I to his mother Teodora, in the 9th century.
The entire ceiling and upper section of the walls are covered in precious mosaics. You insert a coin to turn the lights on and on your jaw drops. 😮
Each wall of this little chapel depicts different sacred characters: St Peter, St Paul, St Agnes, St Prassede, St Pudenziana..
But here you’ll find also one of the most important relics brought here by Pasquale I: the fragment of the Column of the Flagellation of Christ, which you can reach through this chapel.
This is by far one of the most impressive mosaics you will ever see!
📍Via di Santa Prassede, 9/a
4) The ancient Roman insula of Santa Cecilia
Don’t ever be fooled that in Rome a church is only a church! One example is the Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
The church itself is already a cradle of many stories, but the visit continues when you go downstairs and explore it underground.
We know in fact that the church was built in the very place where Cecilia was killed.. and we also know that Cecilia was killed in her house, so..
When you go downstairs and access the crypt (for a ticket as small as 2.50€) you will find the archaeological excavations of the ancient Roman insula (apartment building) of Cecilia!
Once you go downstairs (you literally go underground!) you suddenly jump into exploration mode and you are free to explore the cubicles, the corridors, where you find ancient mosaic floors, pools, the atrium of the house of Cecilia and.. the balnea (sauna) in which she was imprisoned for three days! Which is just incredible.
📍Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 22
5) The church of Santa Bibiana
Not many people visit this church, so most likely you’ll have the cradle of Baroque all for yourself!
The Church of Santa Bibiana is where Baroque in Rome began.
In fact this little treasure off the beaten path, is the very place where the two masters of Baroque in Rome began their careers: painter Pietro da Cortona and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. 🧡
One of the best places to visit in Rome, especially if you’re looking for less mainstream wonders.
📍Via Giovanni Giolitti, 154
6) Stadium of the Marbles
The Stadium of the Marbles (in Italian: Stadio dei Marmi) was part of the Mussolini’s project for the Fascist Academy of Physical Education.
A place where Romans workout everyday, you’ll find no tourists in here. Each of these marble statues around the stadium represent a different sport. So you can have fun recognizing all of them 😉
Or you could just sit down and enjoy the view of these white marble statues against the green background of the trees (a beautiful scenography which was planned with the construction of this complex)
Today the building hosts the CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) and it is very popular among Romans living nearby to exercise, run and play soccer.
📍Viale dello Stadio dei Marmi
7) The crypt of San Lorenzo in Lucina
The church is dedicated to Saint Lawrence, and it’s called “in Lucina” because it was built on the insula (apartment building) of Lucina, a wealthy ancient Roman woman who lived here and made her house available for Christian ceremonies.
In the 5th century a church was built on top of Lucina’s house, and the traces of this church are in the underground level below the modern church.
Because of the floods of the Tiber river, the church was badly damaged, so in the 8th century it had to be elevated – meaning a new church was built on top of the existing one.
In brief: an ancient Roman house, an ancient church and a modern church one on top of the other!
In the pic, it’s me super excited for discovering this ancient mosaic belonging to the house of Lucina.. while a mass was taking place just above my head! 😜
📍Piazza di S. Lorenzo in Lucina, 6
Are you surprised to read that the Ancient Romans lived in apartment buildings too? We talk about this during this super interactive and fun live virtual tour: Virtual Walk through Ancient Rome ruins. Check it out! 😉
8) The crypt of San Crisogono in Trastevere
When you enter this church you’ll never expect to find so much underground.
Rome is an outdoor museum. But do you know there is a whole world to explore beneath your feet?
One of the most hidden gems is underneath the Church of San Crisogono in Trastevere.
This church was built on top of its ancient version, which still preserves a lot of its super ancient frescoes, marbles and structures.
In the pic I am standing next to a fresco from the 8th century! 😱
📍Piazza Sidney Sonnino, 44
9) Hendrik Christian Andersen museum
One of Rome’s best kept secrets!
This is the house museum of Hendrik Christian Andersen, an American-Norwegian sculptor who lived in Rome from the end of the 1800s until 1940.
He built is own house, Villa Helene, 5 minutes walk from Piazza del Popolo.
Here he also had his studio where he made these wonderful statues, that today you can visit for free!
This is a totally photogenic place, so bring your camera to take home some of the most unique pictures of Rome 😉
And take your time to enjoy, you’ll hardly find anybody else visiting, as this is one of Rome’s best kept secrets! 😉
Andersen had an utopian vision of an ideal city, which he designed on paper and called “World City”. The statues you’ll find here were meant to decorate the streets and fountains of this ideal city.
Don’t forget to also visit Andersen’s apartment upstairs 🤩
📍Via Pasquale Stanislao Mancini, 20
Be sure to read part 2
To read the third part of this Hidden Gems of Rome Guide, click on this link: Rome hidden gems: the ultimate guide – part 2