Six Roman sights off the tourist trail

While the Colosseum, Pantheon and Forum will always be on the first time visitor’s wish list, there’s much more to Rome. Even after a few visits, I’ve still got much more to see (including big hitters like the Galleria Borghese and much of Trastevere) but these were some of the quieter spots that I’ve visited…

Click on the titles to see full posts.

Villa Medici

If you’ve watched Medici: Masters of Florence on Netflix then this is one for you. This Villa, now the home of the French Academy in Rome, sits in prime position at the top of the Spanish steps. When we visited we had it almost to ourselves. Daily guides tours are offered in English and other languages.

Many of its original masterpieces now live in Palazzo Pitti in Florence, but the guided tour was a great introduction to the world of the Medici. You can also visit regular exhibitions and stay in the villa itself.

villablog

Keats-Shelley House

Situated on the Piazza di Spagna, this is an oasis of calm in the centre of the city. It’s the location where a consumptive Keats spent his last few months, having decamped to Rome for better weather conditions. His room is the main attraction, while the apartment complex is a wonderful site for literature lovers as it contains much memorabilia and artefacts from Keats, Shelley and the Romantics.

Again you can stay here – it’s bookable through the Landmark Trust.

And if you’re a fan of Keats, then remember to pay a visit to the Protestant Cemetery, only a few metro stops from the Colosseum.

Museum of the Liberation

The Museo Storico della Liberazione is situated in an apartment block on Via Tasso, an unassuming side street between the Colosseum and St John Lateran. The block was the HQ of the SS in Rome during the early 1940s, a site where resistance and Jewish leaders were imprisoned and tortured. It felt disrespectful to photograph the cells here, and it’s doubtful whether I could have captured the site’s full horror. Much of the material is, of course, in Italian but a leaflet in English is available. The story of Rome’s wartime experience is powerfully relayed.

Santi Quattro Coronati

On the day I visited I literally had the place to myself, which I hope isn’t the norm.  This is a convent complex five minutes away from the Colosseum.  It originated in the 4th Century, and takes its name from 4 crowned but unnamed saints who may have been Christian martyrs.  Step back in time and view Rome’s oldest campanile, and peak into the small oratory containing ridiculously fresh frescoes dating from the 13th Century.

Museo Storico Della Fanteria

Bonus points here as a visit can be combined with a visit to the neighbouring Santa Croce In Gerusalemme and the Museum of Musical Instruments.  I’m not really into military history, but it was an interesting journey, with examples of uniforms and a different perspective on wars in which Italy was involved.  Bonus points – the gardens have some of the remnants of Saint Helena’s 4th Century Sessorian Palace.  Check opening times as they’re somewhat restricted.

St Paul’s Outside the Walls

This site had much in common with St Peter’s Basilica – all of the scale but none of the crowds, which led to such a sense of space.  The Basilica houses the supposed tomb of St Paul, and amazingly covers the same space as the original 4th Century church.  Much was destroyed in a 19th Century fire, but some aspects like the 4th/5th Century mosaics and triumphal arch are original.  Explore the archaeological remains of the earlier site.

What’s your favourite relatively off the beaten track spot in Rome?

16 comments

  1. I’ve been to Rome several times and was looking for something else to visit aside from the big tourist destinations!! :)x This list is just perfect x

  2. Lovely photos of the Basilica! I only visited it and the Protestant Cemetery out of these. Always good to get new ideas. Thank you! I’ve just posted some arches from when I was hopping around hidden Roman courtyards around Via Giulia last weekend when it was the open-door day. Such beauty! Will post more from there.

  3. More sites to add to my list of things to see on next visit to Rome. I really will have to stop returning to the Colosseum and Forum and spending my days there, but they are two of the things that call me back to Rome every time. Thank you for bringing these to our attention.

    • Thank you. It’s hard to ignore the Forum and Colosseum isn’t it, as there’s always more to see – there’s even a new super ticket offering more.

    • I haven’t made it to Centrale Montemartini yet but would love to. Agree that Palazzo Massimo is amazing – I toyed with including it here. We were lucky enough to have it almost to ourselves one Saturday evening in November and it was such a wonderful experience. I’ve blogged about it too.

  4. This last trip I enjoyed the Aventine hill rose gardens, the non cattolico cemetario, the arch of Janus, always seeking out some new friends metaphorically speaking 🙂 but I fell in love with Janus!

    • The Protestant Cemetery is wonderful isn’t it. I would love to see more of the Aventine too. I spotted the Arch of Janus when exploring the nearby Forum Boarium – it’s definitely a spectacle. Have you seen my other ideas in my Free Rome post. There’s so much I still have to see 😀!

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