10 Off-the-Beaten Path Places in Rome

Sometimes when you go to a city, you want to see all the “important” sites, but sometimes you want to get off-the-beaten path and discover something new. On our recent visit to Rome, we were able to get away from the main sites and enjoyed peeking through keyhole of the Knights of Malta, getting sweeping views of the city at the Garibaldi overlook, and walking on the ancient cobblestones along Appian Way. To get some advice on off the beaten path places in Rome that tourists don’t know about, I asked my friends at Overome for their advice and they put together this great list.

 10 Off the Beaten Path Places in Rome

Here are 10 suggestions to discover Rome in an unusual, unknown and mysterious, but still fascinating and marvellous way. 

1. The Church of the SS. Quattro Coronati

10 Off the Beaten Path places in Rome

Photo Credit: Luigi Gaurino via Flickr Creative Commons License

It isn’t easy to visit a Romanesque church in Rome, but you can. You’ll need to enter the gate of a fortified building which is overshadowed by a stark tower, then pass through two internal courtyards (that host the Augustinian nunnery), and finally you discover the Basilica of the SS Quattro Coronati. It is beautiful, with a nave and two aisles, and a matroneum. The floor is a cosmatesque mosaic. There is a quiet cloister closed by a loggia with a paired small columns and a little chapel.

According to one tradition, the saints the church is consecrated to were four Roman Imperial police officers; according to another tale they were four stonecutters; in both cases they were martyred. Sometimes the two traditions meld together: the stonecutters refused to cut the marble for a pagan statue, the police officers refused to arrest them.

If you ask the nuns, they will let you enter the Oratory of San Silvestro, a wonderful place with an extraordinary series of thirteenth- century frescoes on the walls that describe Constantine’s conversion and the story of Pope Sylvester.

2. Appian Way

Appian Way on the Driving Tour of Rome with Walks of Italy - tour review from We3Travel.com

The first paved road of the Roman Empire, has been known as the Appian Way since 312 B.C. because it was built by a famous Roman nobleman, Appius Claudius.

It has been named Regina Viarium (the queen of ways) since the ancient times as it was the first great consular road that branched off from Rome, and because of the sepulchral monuments that used to stand on its sides. An epithet that has always been confirmed, even when the road tumbled down. The beauty and majesty of its frame together with the landscape intersperses with picturesque villages and Roman ruins. Visiting the entire path would require days, indeed, but in a sunny day you could rent a bike and go through all the Roman way. It would be an unforgettable experience.

3. The Sacred Heart of the Suffrage 

Sacred Heart of the Suffrage

Photo Credit: Herb Neufeld via Flickr Creative Commons License

A Gothic cathedral in Rome is a peculiar thing and you can find one at the Church of the Sacred Heart of the Suffrage in Prati, on the Lungotevere Prati. It was built between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth-century. The peculiarity of this little Gothic treasure, completely admirable also by the other side of the Tiber, is not just the fact that it is a wonderful miniature of the Milan Cathedral, but that it hosts one of the most unique museums of the Capital.

It gathers together proof of deceased soul existence, therefore a proper museum of the other world. Books, fabrics and images, on which prints of Purgatory souls are impressed, have been collected since father Victor Jouet, the founder of this church, discovered the effigy of a suffering face on a fire spot. This happened after a fire that burned up in the chapel consecrated to Our Lady of the Rosary in 1897. Jounet thought this was the sign of a Purgatory soul who was trying to get through, so he decided, on Pope Pius X’ s approval, to collect relics of the other world and to expose them publicly, as a proof of another life existence.

Today, the little museum displays books and any kind of objects, each of them with its own amazing story.

4. The Cripta of the Cappuccini

Capuchin crypt -- 10 Off the Beaten Path Places in Rome

Photo Credit: Morgan Davis via Flickr Creative Commons License

If you are not highly emotional, we also recommend to visit the Cripta of the Cappuccini in Via Veneto, almost at Piazza Barberini. Next to the Our Lady of the Conception Church there is a visitable crypt, decorated with the bones of more than four thousand monks dead between the sixteenth and the end of the nineteenth century. The bones were collected from the mass graves.  The crypt is made of several chapels crossed by a corridor that houses the mummified corpses of monks dressed with their habits. It is a macabre path full of decorations made-up by religious men bones that shape roses, stars, garlands and chandeliers. (Check out the Catacombs and Crypts at Night tour!)

5. Saint Mary above Minerva

Santa Maria sopra Minerva -- 10 Off the Beaten Path places to see in Rome

Photo credit: Xiquinho Silva via Flickr Creative Commons License

The church of Saint Mary above Minerva is a rare sample of Gothic style in a city dominated by Baroque architecture. It is full of beautiful works of art inside and for this reason it is definitely worth a visit. The second part of the basilica name is a fake. The ruins on which the church was built did not belong to Minerva Calcidica as it was thought for a long time. Starting from 1280 the church has been rebuilt and reshaped many times. In the seventeenth century, Carlo Maderno changed the original facade where from three gates open today: the middle one is considered to be a work by Caprino. The church inside has a nave and two aisles with a cross vault, a transept and two chapels  to the sides of the presbytery. In the 7th right-hand chapel there are the Sepulchre of the bishops Giovanni de Coca and Benedetto Soranzo, works of the fifteenth century.

The most important work of art in this place of worship is the marvellous Christ Carrying the Cross by Michelangelo, an extremely elegant sculpture. Santa Cateriena da Siena and the great Dominican painter Beato Angelico are buried in the church.

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9 Comments on “10 Off-the-Beaten Path Places in Rome

  1. I love this! There is so much to see and do in Rome, so it’s great to have some ideas for lesser-known sights. I have spent time in Florence and always prefer the off-the-beaten-path ideas there, too. Pinning for a future trip. 🙂

    Last year, my husband and I went on our second trip to Rome, and there are a few new experiences I have that I’d like to add to this list. I wouldn’t say my picks are “off the beaten path” as they are squarely in the heart of Rome, but they are slightly obscure, so I thought I’d share.

    San Pietro in Vincoli: Translated to St. Peter in Chains, this small and tucked away church’s alter contains the chains that once were used to imprison St. Peter. Also, there’s a statue of Moses with horns coming out his head that was sculpted by Michelangelo. Apparently, the horns were due to a misinterpretation of an earlier translation of the Bible, which I found pretty interesting.

    Largo di Torre Argentina: Basically, a square of ruins right in the heart of the city. In recent years, it has actually become a cat sanctuary, and it’s really entertaining to stare into the ruins and see how many cats you can spot. My husband and I have lovingly dubbed it “Cat Ruins.” It’s kind of weird and funny and would probably be a good place to take kids.

    Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini: This is a newer attraction that did not even make the cut in my 2014 Rome travel book. I actually found out about it on TripAdvisor, and we were so glad we went. Basically, you walk on a glass floor above the ruins of a wealthy family’s home that was recently uncovered, and using lasers and other technology, you can learn about the features of the homes and what it probably looked like back then. It was really unique, and the technology was really impressive. Plus, it’s 45 minutes in air conditioning, so it’s a nice break from the Roman heat.

    Thanks for your great list! We’ll have to visit some of the ones we haven’t tried if we ever go back again!

      Thank you Amanda for these great suggestions!! They sound fascinating. I’ve heard of the cat ruins and my daughter would love it as she loved counting and naming the cats she saw in Italy. We also got to go to a home of a friend of the family that has the ruins of an ancient Roman general’s home in his basement and it has been preserved as a museum. That was such a special experience. What I love about Rome is how layered it is and how there are hidden secrets around every corner. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Rome’s always a great place to “recharge” one’s spiritual batteries. Plus the place is just stunning everywhere you go.

    I agree, enjoy your trip!!

    I really enjoyed this. I spent a semester in Rome back in college and fell in love with the city. You brought back some great memories and showed me a couple places I haven’t made it to yet. Ostia Antica is truly amazing and a must do. Especially if you aren’t making it down to Pompei as well. Thanks for sharing.

      Thanks Megan, that is so great to hear!

    What a marvellous list here of random places in Rome most have never heard of. There are bound to be a few more to add as well. In fairness as long as I’m guaranteed a decent beer and pizza after a day of sightseeing, I’m happy to see any of these places in Rome. Safe travels. Jonny

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