Did you know that there is a whole world beneath the modern city of Rome? In fact, what you see today on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg.
Rome underground has so many hidden gems to offer. Especially during rainy days or to escape the heat of the Roman summer.
If you’re here it’s because you are ready to explore the city right at the heart of it, going beyond the main tourist attractions.
This is a list of our favorite hidden gems you cannot miss underground Rome!
Rome Underground Hidden Gems
How many of these have you ticked off your bucket list?
1) Stadium of Domitian
There’s no better place to start than the Stadium of Domitian, which is beneath the modern Piazza Navona!
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 of the Circus Maximus and the gladiator fights of the Colosseum, 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
Did you know we take you right into the Stadium of Domitian during one of our in-person experiences? We do both private and small groups. Read more here!
2) Domus Aurea of Nero
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 really 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
3) 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
Read also: Underground Rome: San Clemente basilica
4) 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 you’ll 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! 🙂
We follow the route of this ancient aqueduct from Spanish steps to Trevi fountain and the underground site during our “underground Trevi fountain” guided tour (one of our best-selling tours!).
📍Vicolo del Puttarello, 25
5) Horti Lamiani
Will Rome ever stop surprising us with its hidden gems? Please update your bucket lists, a newly opened wonder has arrived! This is the Horti Lamiani, an ancient Roman sumptuous private residency.
The Horti Lamiani were found beneath the palace of ENPAM, a foundation that takes care of the welfare schemes of the medical personnel. And just recently the Horti Lamiani opened to the public! Get the ticket, make a few steps and dive into Ancient Rome. Here you will find some of the rooms of this residency, the marble floors, amazing frescoes with such vivid colors.. How great is to explore these hidden gems underground Rome? The Horti Lamiani are only open for visits during the weekends in the morning. Tickets can be booked online.
📍P.za Vittorio Emanuele II, 78
Read also: Horti Lamiani: a secret garden underground Rome