When you travel to Rome, Italy, you’ll stroll past millennia of history – with ancient ruins, medieval churches and Renaissance palaces all sharing the same stone streets. But, with nearly 15 million tourists visiting Rome each year, how can you relish the real city all while skipping the crowds? You'll need to head to the areas Rome's residents adore -- whether it's one of Rome's neighborhood pizzerias or one of the city's lesser-trafficked historic sites. Below you'll find our insider advice on 5 Non-Touristy Places to Visit in Rome, Italy.
So, when you travel to Italy, do as the Romans do and. . .
5. VENTURE THROUGH VILLA BORGHESE
Not far from the famous Spanish Steps, you’ll find a green jewel in the heart of historic Rome – the Villa Borghese Gardens. Built by the noble Borgia family (including a pope!) atop a former vineyard in 1605, the Villa Borghese Gardens were the largest green space built in Rome since ancient times. From this vast and manicured park, you can also access the Villa Borghese Gallery – housing Renaissance masterpieces from artists such as Caravaggio and Titian. Bring art history to life here with a private visit alongside an English-speaking guide.
4. STROLL ROME'S HISTORIC JEWISH QUARTER
Rome is home to many sacred sites – including St. Peter’s tomb and the Vatican. It also boasts one of Europe’s oldest Jewish communities, residing principally in Rome's Jewish Quarter. In addition to vaunting kosher-friendly carbonara, this quiet and cobblestoned quarter also houses some spectacular Roman ruins – including Teatro Marcello. This theater dates back to 13BC and resembles the Colosseum (minus the crowds). Columns and remains of ancient Roman temples are scattered around this open-air theater. After wandering Rome's Jewish Quarter, you might walk nearby to Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) for a gelato at Tiberino Gelateria.
3. UNCOVER ROME'S UNDERGROUND RUINS
Walking through Rome feels like you're stepping inside of a postcard. But, some of the city's most jaw-dropping sights, aren't found on the surface. They're located underfoot -- buried beneath the bustling modern Rome. In some places, what remains of the ancient city is found nearly 30 feet below today's streets and sidewalks. Rome's underground ruins are also delightfully undiscovered by the big tourist crowds. Some of Rome's most remarkable underground ruins are housed in the San Clemente Basilica and Palazzo Valentini.
The San Clemente church vaunts 3 levels of ruins -- dating, respectively to the 12th-, 4th- and 1st- centuries. The oldest layer includes what remains of a Temple to Mithras. Underneath the 16th-century Palazzo Valentini, you'll find the 2,000-year-old ruins of a Roman domus (house) -- that once belonged to a wealthy family. Highlights include intricate mosaics and original vaulted ceilings. Other notable underground ruins in Rome include Diocletian's Baths, Domus Aurea and the city's world-famous catacombs.
2. DINE IN A TRATTORIA IN TRASTEVERE
Rome’s stunning Trastevere quarter is located on the far side of the Tiber River – easily accessed on foot by crossing one of the city’s scenic bridges. Boasting cobblestone alleyways and ivy-clad buildings, Trastevere bustles with local charm during the day or at night. It’s also home to some of the city’s most treasured Roman ristoranti – including Trattoria Da Teo, Pizzeria Ai Marmi and Da Enzo al 29.To skip the tourists traps here, though, you'll want to reserve a food-filled tasting tour with a local guide -- savoring the restaurant gems where real Romans go to dine.
1. EAT PIZZA BEHIND THE COLOSSEUM
Whether it’s your first or fourteenth visit to Rome, viewing the Colosseum never ceases to impress. In its hay day, this stone stadium could seat 50,000 spectacles for live battles and gladiator matches. You can enjoy here a private tour inside the Colosseum and Roman Forum with skip-the-line tickets. After your immersion in ancient history, you’ll be hungry for a taste of Rome. Nearby, you can order a wood-fired pie at Li Rioni Pizzeria – hidden on a non-touristy side street just a 5 minutes’ walk from the Colosseum. Be sure to pair your pizza with an order of grilled bruschetta or decadent tiramisu!
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