Hidden Rome: Exploring Off The Beaten Track

Roman remains

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It would take a lifetime to explore everything that Rome has to offer. This means that, once you’ve ticked off the main tourist sites, one of the pleasures of the city is the things you discover just by wandering around. There are minor Roman sites, curiosities and lesser visited areas, all with the added possibility of finding an inviting back street café or restaurant. This is my own, very small, selection things to see off the beaten track, an introduction to hidden Rome.

Lesser Known Roman Sites

It may seem odd to include Roman remains in a list of “hidden Rome”: you may argue that these are why tourists come to Rome in the first place. However, there are lots of archaeological sites beyond the Forum and the Colosseum. You are likely to discover many of these just by keeping your eyes open as you explore.

Ruins of an arched gateway
Ruins of the Portico d’Ottavia

You can find a few of the less visited Roman remains here – 7 Lesser Known Roman Sites In Rome.

The Caelian Hill

Of the seven hills of ancient Rome it is probably the Palatine and the Capitoline that are the best known. But the Caelian Hill, just a short walk from the Colosseum, is well worth a visit. This area was once home to wealthy Romans and was partly covered by a vineyard.

Today the former vineyard is occupied by the beautiful gardens of the Villa Celimontana. Elsewhere you can see parts of the Clivus Scauri, an old Roman road, and the Case Romane del Celio, the remains of a group of Roman houses. There are also several notable churches on the Caelian Hill, including the Basilica of St John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome.

The grand facade of the Basilica of St John Lateran
The Basilica of St John Lateran

Bohemian Trastevere

Trastevere is Rome’s “left bank”, across the river from the main city. Easy to get to by bus or on foot, this is a lively, bohemian area, full of restaurants, churches and creative graffiti. Read more about Trastevere, the “other side” of Rome.

The Fantastical Quartiere Coppedè

Rome is a historic city, and its buildings are generally – well, a bit historic. So the Quartiere Coppedè might be a bit of a shock to the system – here you’ll find an eclectic architecture, a whimsical fusion of early 20th century styles. Read more about the Fantastical Quartiere Coppedè In Rome.

The Walls Of The Vatican City

The Vatican City is a very popular tourist spot but did you know that it is surrounded by a wall, and that you can walk around the outside of that wall? I did just that a few years ago, and enjoyed a stroll through peaceful residential districts as well as gaining a rather different perspective on the Vatican. Read more about walking round the walls of the Vatican City.

Tours Of Hidden Rome

A tour with a local guide can be an excellent way of discovering new – and hidden – sights.


As well as their tours of well known sites, LivItaly have more specialised tours such as Trastevere and Jewish Ghetto or Catacombs and Underground Rome. They also have some online experiences – ideal for the present time – such as Live Stroll from Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican (I have done this one myself and it is highly recommended).

Remember that, as a reader of this website, you can get 5% off any of LivItaly’s tours by using discount code BEWITCHEDBYITALY.

Street scene in Trastevere
A street in Trastevere (photo copyright LivItaly)


Another possibility is to take a tour with WithLocals. As the name suggests, these activities are organised by people who live and work in the city, and they can be customised to your interests. Tours include Highlights & Hidden Gems, or Alternative Rome, and you can even book a completely personalised experience.

Again, some of these experiences are available without leaving home. Have a look at Underground Crypts & Chapels of Rome, or the many other online offerings.


If you prefer to explore on your own, BiteMojo’s self guided food tours might suit you better. Each of these includes a few “hidden gems” (curiosities you might otherwise have overlooked) as well as the food stops. Read about my own experience with BiteMojo in Rome.

If you are tempted by a BiteMojo tour, you can use code WWW for a 10% discount.

Day Trips From Rome

If you have more than a few days in the city, Rome is ideally placed for a number of day trips. Whether you head inland to the spa town of Tivoli, or south to the hills and lakes of the Castelli Romani, there is plenty to explore and discover.

Pinnable image of hidden Rome - remains of the Teatro di Marcello
Pinnable image of the Teatro di Marcello, one of many smaller Roman sites

And Finally…

If you really want to get a feel for Rome as it is known to the locals have a look at these reviews of books that try to scratch beneath the surface of the city – Secret Rome and Soul of Rome.

About Bewitched by italy

Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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4 thoughts on “Hidden Rome: Exploring Off The Beaten Track”

  1. Nice to hear about those unique places that aren’t always in travel guides. Always find it fascinating that ruins like the Portico d’Ottavia can be in the heart of a city surrounded by local businesses. I haven’t been to Rome in (gulp) decades. Guess it’s time to go back.

  2. There is so much of Europe that we need to explore. Your wonderful article on the hidden sites in Rome makes us really yearn to travel. Let’s hope that 2021 is the year we can resume.

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