Rome hidden gems: the ultimate guide

Rome hidden gems hendrik museum

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!

The ultimate Rome hidden gems guide by Live Virtual Guide

1) The Ancient Pharmacy of Santa Maria della Scala

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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 protected] 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 them together for you into our ready-to-walk itineraries that you can discover with our live virtual tours. Take a short virtual tour now and walk the same itinerary in person when in Rome 😉

2) Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

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Michelangelo’s Christ Carrying the Cross in the 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

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The golden mosaics of 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

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The ancient floors underground the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

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

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The little church of Santa Bibiana, nearby Termini station

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

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The Stadio dei Marmi in Rome

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

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The ancient Roman ruins underneath the Church 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

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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

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The Hendrik museum in Rome

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

10) Napoleonic museum

There is a “corner of Versailles” in Rome that you can explore totally for free.

This is the Napoleonic Museum (Museo Napoleonico) where the family members of Napoleon resided during the French republic of Rome, in which Napoleon’s brother was ambassador.⁠

📍Piazza di Ponte Umberto I

11) Ancient Roman walls museum

What is the greatest “monument” of ancient Rome?⁠ The first you think of is surely the Colosseum, but what about those Aurelian walls still running for big part around the city?⁠
Did you know you can actually walk on the walls? I took this picture from one of the towers of the Ancient Walls museum (Museo delle Mura). ⁠
⁠A fantastic museum, with spectacular views included (in the FREE ticket 😉).⁠

📍Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 18

Want more Ancient Rome? Look at these super exclusive live-streamed tours INSIDE the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine hill! They’re made and curated by us 😊

12) The Blessed Ludovica Albertoni by Bernini

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Blessed Ludovica Albertoni by Bernini in the Church of San Francesco a Ripa

This is one of those jaw-dropping marvels that you can enjoy in Rome, simply walking into a church.⁠ This is the blessed Ludovica Albertoni sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. You can see it in the church of San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere.⁠

Ludovica Albertoni lived between the 1400 and 1500s, she was married to a violent man, she had three daughters. When the husband died, she decided to dedicate her life to God and to help the poor people, especially during the devastating Sack of Rome in 1527.⁠
⁠Ludovica died on January 31st 1533, in her bed, during sunset, the light was streaming in from her window.. Bernini depicts her in that very moment, when she is pulling out her last gasp, the light coming from the side..⁠
She is in agony and with the last spasm she repeats the words of Jesus on the cross: “God, in your hands I leave my soul”.⁠
⁠Isn’t just impressive how Bernini can photograph into marble an instant, an emotion, a story? The way a solid stone of marble becomes soft and fluffy in clothes and pillows?⁠

📍Church of San Francesco a Ripa. Piazza di S. Francesco d’Assisi, 88

Want to know which are the the other hidden gems near this Bernini statue? We are putting them together into an itinerary for you. Book a live-streamed tour with us to learn where to go and what to see when in Rome 😉

13) The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini

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The Ecstacy of Santa Teresa by Bernini in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria

Another Bernini wonder. One of Bernini’s most controversial marbles: the “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa”.

Many defined this sculpture to be resembling an erotic ecstasy and to be an inappropriate expression for a saint. But Bernini defended himself by saying he had simply transformed Saint Teresa words into an image, nothing more:

”I saw in his hand a long spear of gold.. he appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to get rid of it..”

This theatrical scene was carved out of a single piece of Carrara marble! The folds are so deep that during one of the last restoration works, tiny fragments of marble from Bernini’s carving were found 😍

You can visit this marvel at the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, on the Quirinal hill in Rome.

📍Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. Via Venti Settembre, 17

14) The Baroque machine in the Church of the Gesù

Something beautiful happens every day at 5:30PM in Rome.. All you need to do is enter into the Church of the Jesus at 5:30PM.

Here you will find the fabulous Macchina Barocca (Baroque Machine)! One of those Rome hidden gems that very few people know! What is it?

It was a way of evangelizing through spectacular and sensational theatrical shows. People entering this church would enter a sort of ecstatic state and feel transported into the story and faith of St Ignatius.

A little bit of context..

The Church of the Gesù (Chiesa del Gesù, in Italian) is the mother church of the Jesuit order, whose founder was Ignazio di Loyola.

The Jesuit have always been very successful at evangelizing, because of their great communications skills. They knew how to get to the hearts of the people. And here you can have an idea of that.

This church that we see today was built in the 1600s. After the period of the Counter Reformation (when people got away from the Church of Rome due to scandals and loss of trust) the Church of Rome aimed at bringing as many people back to church.

And the Baroque Machine was one of the ways to do so. Since the 1600s, every day at 5:30PM the show starts! On the left nave the music starts, with a voice narrating the story of St Ignazio di Loyola. The painting on top of the altar starts sliding down, revealing the super precious statue of St Ignazio Today we have speakers playing music, but originally the music and the narration would be played LIVE! Imagine.. there were musicians, singers, funambulists lighting the candles.. what an incredible show it must have been! At the end of the show the whole church is illuminated, revealing the incredible paintings and frescoes of the dome and the ceilings! Be on time, and you will be rewarded for your visit!

📍Via degli Astalli, 16

Looking for the hidden gems nearby Piazza Venezia? They’re all here: 7 Hidden Gems nearby Piazza Venezia

15) Galleria Colonna

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The fabulous Galleria Colonna in the heart of Rome

Statues, painting, mirrors with golden frames, chandeliers, consoles.. frescoes on the ceiling, colorful marbles on the floors.
It’s impossible to look somewhere without seeing something super beautiful.. 🤩
But where are we?
We are in a corner of heaven and beauty in the hectic heart of the city.. We are in Palazzo Colonna!

Read more: 3 highlights of the Colonna Gallery in Rome

📍Via della Pilotta, 17

16) Villa Medici

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Villa Medici in Rome

The best Rome hidden gems are always next to the most known places of a city. And this makes them even more special! After taking a pic or two on the Spanish Steps, you should walk up the staircase and turn to the left. Because here you’ll find the heavenly Villa Medici in Rome.

Read more: Villa Medici in Rome. A hidden gem near Spanish Step

📍Viale della Trinità dei Monti, 1

17) Basilica of San Clemente

Hidden gem 400m from the Colosseum! 🤩 This place is such a super “lasagna” of history!

In the basilica of San Clemente you can find: ancient Roman buildings, medieval buildings and the basilica that we see today. Here’s the layers:

Layer n.1: the basilica that we see today, on the modern ground level. This was built in the 12th century

Layer n.2: below the modern basilica, we find the previous basilica! This was built in the 4th century. This was badly damaged by a barbaric invasion in 1084. It was then abandoned and filled with ground to support the new basilica on top.

Here you can also find the first written proof of swearword in vulgar language (the precursor of Italian language)!! 😜

Layer n.3: ancient Roman ruins! Here there are ruins of various buildings, among them: the State mint, a deposit for the show decorations of the Colosseum, private houses and a Mithreum (the temple of the Mithraic mystery cult).

📍Via Labicana, 95

18) Galleria Sciarra

This is one of those places you don’t expect to find in a city like Rome. Galleria Sciarra is the inner courtyard of a private building, Palazzo Sciarra. This courtyard follow office hours, so you will find it closed during the weekends. And this makes it an even more hidden gem! 😉

📍Via Marco Minghetti, 10

Galleria Sciarra is part of the Hidden Gems of Rome Historical Center live-streamed tour! Book this 60 mins live virtual tour to discover an itinerary that you can walk in person when you are in Rome (secrets, coffee break and happy hour included 😉)

20) Welcome to Rome cinema

What did Ancient Rome look like? What kind of city Raphael walked into? And what did it look like to Bernini, 100 years later? Sometimes it takes a lot of imagination to picture in our mind what the ruins looked like originally They might look just like a bunch of stones.. That’s why I LOOOVE reconstructions! They make me dream! So you can imagine what a sensation when I entered this incredible cinema.

This place is called “Welcome to Rome” and it is located between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona Inside you can find a lot of reconstructions that show you the incredible transitions of buildings like Castel Sant’Angelo, St Peter in the Vatican and the Imperial Forums through the centuries. After the reconstructions you enter a special cinema. This cinema has four screens (one in front of you, two on the sides and one below), and this makes it super immersive!

Included in the ticket you also have headphones with an audioguide, which in a very simple and easy way describes more than 2700 years of history of Rome. I loved this experience and recommend it to anyone, whether you’ve never been to Rome or you know the city by heart

Read: What did Ancient Rome look like?

📍Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

21) The cannon on the Janiculum hill

Why is there a cannon shooting in the center of Rome every single day? To see this Roman cannon in action you’ll have to be on top of the Janiculum hill at midday (sharp!) on any day of the week.

This cannon shoots every single day from here since 1847! Why? Because in 1847 Pope Pius IX was fed up with all the church bells of Rome ringing at different times (after all, time in Rome has been a relative concept since forever 😄). Therefore he decided to set up a cannon that would shoot every single day at midday to signal the correct time when to ring the bells, so that all the churches would be synchronized! Of course there is no cannon ball inside the cannon! Only some gunpowder 😉

📍Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi

22) The house of Monsters

Hidden gem nearby Spanish Steps. Welcome to the House of Monsters!

The look of the door and the name are quite deceiving, in fact this place has nothing scary in it! The real name of this building is Palazzo Zuccari, named after Federico Zuccari, an Italian painter from the 1500s.

Federico wanted to create a surprise effect with this door. Visitors would enter this “scary” door, and then be surprised with the contrast of the beauty of the garden inside. In fact originally you would find a garden after this door.

Today the garden is replaced by the Bibliotheca Hertziana, a German research institute specialised in History of Art with focus on Rome. The story of Palazzo Zuccari and the Bibliotheca Hertziana are both very fascinating. They started with two great personalities: Federico Zuccari for the palace, and Henrietta Hertz for the library.

Learn more about them and how to visit here: The House of Monsters and the Bibliotheca Hertziana

📍Via Gregoriana, 28

23) The Stadium of Domitian underneath Piazza Navona

Do you love going underground? If you want to do this during your Roman holidays, there’s no better place to start than the Stadium of Domitian, which is beneath the modern Piazza Navona!

Going underground is great to escape the summer heat of the city, as well as taking shelter during rainy days.

The Stadium of Domitian used to be an ancient Roman stadium where the sports imported from the Greek Olympics were taking place: javelin throw, foot run, pankration, discus throw, long jump.. However you have to imagine that in Ancient Rome these sports were not as popular as the chariot races and the gladiator fights, where more action and blood was included. Tastes of the time!

But this was surely a grandiose building, where up to 30000 Romans of the time gathered to support their favorite athletes and collecting memories of these special events.. like we do today in our modern stadiums.

📍Via di Tor Sanguigna, 3

24) Raphael frescoes in the Church of Santa Maria della Pace

One of those free Rome hidden gems nearby Piazza Navona! Take a few steps from the Piazza and discover this precious corner that the divine Raphael left to us in Rome.

It is in the church of Santa Maria della Pace, commissioned at the end of the 1400s by Pope Sixtus IV (the same pope that built the Sistine chapel, by the way!)

Agostino Chigi, a rich banker and Raphael’s friend, commissioned Raphael to decorate his chapel.

After all, Raphael already demonstrated to Agostino how good he was.. He in fact already decorated his Villa in Trastevere, that today is called Villa Farnesina. The results were divine!

📍Arco della Pace, 5

25) The round church of Santo Stefano Rotondo

You’ve never seen anything like this..

Can such shocking images coexist in one of the most requested churches for weddings in Rome? Yes, if you are in Santo Stefano Rotondo (Saint Stephen in the Round), the most ancient church in Rome.. in a round shape!

This beautiful medieval church holds frescoes with 35 scenes of martyrdom of the first Christians. They are really detailed and they show any kind of torture and execution that the Roman emperors gave to these Christian martyrs: from beheading to stoning, to even putting them into a cauldron with boiling oil or having them eaten by lions. Some of the images are quite strong, and it’s quite shocking to us today to find them in such a lovely church!

📍Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 7

26) Palazzo Falconieri 

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The incredible ceilings designed by Borromini in Palazzo Falconieri

In Rome we have three kind of places: the must-sees, the hidden gems and those places which are only open on specific occasions.. like this one!

I have been wanting to see this place with my own eyes for ages and finally I’ve managed: this ceiling was design by one of my favorite artists in Rome: Francesco Borromini! 🧡
Borromini was the genius architect of Baroque, which in the 1600s was part of the legendary rivalry with Gian Lorenzo Bernini (another one of those Baroque geniuses that me and you love so much!).
This room is in Palazzo Falconieri in via Giulia, very close to Campo de’ Fiori, but always closed to the public apart from specific initiatives that allows visitors in.

This palace takes its name from a noble family that used to live in here, the Falconieri, and today it houses the Academy of Hungary where Hungarian cultural events are held.

📍Via Giulia, 1

27) The Eur district and its secret garden

What is the business district of Rome? Is there anywhere in the Eternal city where buildings are actually modern?? The answer is simple: EUR!

The Eur district of Rome was developed in the 1930s to host the World Fair of 1942, which never took place due to WW2.

Eur was the showcase of the Fascist propaganda expressed through architecture, where the regime aimed at establishing a powerful connection between the glory of the ancient Roman Empire and the “modern Italian empire” of the Fascist regime. The result of this is a modern style of architecture where the traits of the classical Roman personality are turned into something more stylized and minimalist. The Eur district today is one of the most desirable district to live it.

I love its white marbles making contrast with the blue skies of Rome!

📍EUR

28) The Gladiators museum

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The armors of the gladiators

I bet you didn’t know this, did you?

First of all: the fact that you are going underground is already super cool! Second: the replicas of those armours are so real, that you can picture so easily those gladiators and soldiers fighting in them!

Third: the Gladiator Museum is FREE to enter! So remember, next time you are in Piazza Navona, do not forget to visit this little gem.

By the way, just to clarify, as it might be deceiving: the Stadium of Domitian (where Piazza Navona was built on) was not a stadium used for gladiator fights! In this stadium the athletic games were taking place instead.

Aren’t you going to check this place out next time you’re in Piazza Navona?

📍Piazza Navona, 90

29) Michelangelo’s house

Michelangelo spent many years of his life in Rome, during which he made some of the eternal masterpieces that we are still so lucky to admire today. Think of the Sistine chapel, the Pietà, the dome of St Peter..

But the question is, where is the place where he rested after working at those wonders, where did he sleep over some new ideas, where did he spent his life in Rome?

Here you have the answer 😉

📍Passeggiata del Gianicolo

30) The Virgo Aqueduct inside a department store

What happens when you enter the Rinascente department store? After scrolling hundreds of designer handbags, shoes, kitchenware and bikinis you find yourself in front of an ancient Roman wall! That wall has arches, and looks like an ancient Roman aqueduct: the Virgo aqueduct! Imagine, this massive infrastructure starts in Salone (east of Rome) and still today ends its journey in a glorious exhibit that we all know: the Trevi fountain!

Have you ever found ancient ruins between the lanes of a shopping mall? 😜

📍Rinascente department store. Via del Tritone, 61

Discover how to get here and how to combine the Aqueduct ruins with other hidden gems around the area with our live-streamed tour Hidden Gems of Rome Historical Center

31) Vicus Caprarius

This is a mind blowing tour of the underground layer of Rome! We are few steps away to the Trevi fountain and here we will discover where all of the water of the most famous fountain of Rome comes from!

In fact, this is where the water tank of the Aqua Virgo is, one of the most ancient Roman Aqueducts. This aqueduct was built by Agrippa (right-hand man of Augustus) in 19BC to provide water to his Thermal Baths. The thermal baths of Agrippa were the first public thermal baths of Rome! It is amazing to imagine that the aqueduct feeding the first thermal baths of Rome, today provide water to some of the most beautiful fountains of the city: Trevi fountain, Barcaccia fountain in Spanish Steps, the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona and more.. Rome once again proves us that it is not just a beautiful city on the surface, but also underground! 🙂

📍Vicolo del Puttarello, 25

32) Domus Aurea

Among all the archaeological sites, this is one of those who simply stole my heart.

The Domus Aurea of Nero was built after the great fire of Rome on the year 64AD. Even though scholars in recent years are agreeing more and more to the fact that Nero had very little to do with that fire that destroyed the city, he has always been associated with that.

Probably he simply had a bad timing.. certainly building such an extraordinaire lush villa right after and where the great fire happened could be easily felt as something fishy at the time. Nonetheless Nero can be considered the patron of an architectural revolution with no precedents.

📍Via della Domus Aurea, 1

33) Caravaggio’s paintings in the Church of St Agostino

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The Madonna of the Pilgrims by Caravaggio

We are in the church of Sant’Agostino in the center of Rome and this is defending one of those churches where you must go in and have a look around! As you enter, look at your left. At the very end you will find the Madonna of the Pilgrims by Caravaggio!

📍Piazza di S. Agostino

34) Caravaggio’s paintings in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi

A priceless treasure that you don’t expect to find by simply entering into a church..

Three (not only one!!) paintings of Caravaggio standing there, for you to admire by simply walking in. No tickets, no queues. Caravaggio painted three phases of the life of the gospel writer Matthew: the call of God, the inspiration and the martyrdom.

Everything painted in an extraordinary realism, it almost feels like the characters could jump out of the paintings!

📍Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Piazza di S. Luigi de’ Francesi

35) The secret garden in Palazzo Venezia

If you have been to Rome already, you have probably walked past it without noticing it. This secret garden is located in an inner courtyard inside Palazzo Venezia. It is incredible to find out that in the middle of one of the busiest and most chaotic areas of the city, you can still find a piece of heaven to relax. A perfect place to have a break between visits and tours in the city 😉

📍Via del Plebiscito, 118

36) Passeggiata del Gelsomino

Only share this place with someone special 🤫😜

Have you ever been to the Passeggiata del Gelsomino? The name literally translates into Jasmine stroll, because of the Jasmine plants on the side, which feel the air with a beautiful fragrance. How to reach this hidden gem with views of St Peter in the Vatican? You simply need to enter the train station Roma -San Pietro, then head to platform number 1. When upstairs you keep walking along the platform until a beautiful view opens up over St Peter’s dome.

Who would have thought that a train station would hide such a precious gem? 😉

📍Platform 1. Roma-San Pietro train station

37) The perspective illusions of the church of St Ignatius

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The ceiling looks like it’s broken and we can see the sky from here!

You literally won’t believe your eyes!

This is the church of Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola, a Jesuit church inaugurated in 1626, only a few steps away from the Pantheon.

When you enter and look up to the ceiling, you feel disoriented.. is that ceiling open? Which cornice is real and which one is painted? Is the dome a real dome?

Andrea Pozzo, who painted the ceiling, would be so proud of your confusion. He put together very sophisticated mathematical calculations in order to fool the human eye. And he’s been fooling visitors’ eyes since 400 years..

📍Via del Caravita, 8a

38) An ancient Roman apartment building

No one ever notices this when walking around Piazza Venezia 😭

I do a lot of live virtual tours around this area and every time I am here I 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

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39) Coppedè neighbourhood

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

40) Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto in Trastevere

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

41) Ludus Magnus, the gladiators’ training center

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

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42) Moses of Michelangelo

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

43) 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

44) Passetto del Biscione

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

45) Arco degli Acetari

rome hidden gems arco acetari