Hidden Gems in Rome
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
PIZZA BY 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. With my help, you can enjoy a private tour inside the Colosseum with skip-the-line tickets. After your immersion in ancient history, you’ll be hungry for a taste of Rome. Nearby, I recommend Li Rioni Pizzeria – hidden on a non-touristy side street just a 5 minutes’ walk from the main ruins. Be sure to order here a wood-fired pizza, tomato-crowned bruschetta and the creamy house tiramisu!
SANTA MARIA DELLA CONCESIONE DEI CAPPUCCINI
Unless you’re fluent in Italian, you may have trouble pronouncing the name of this 17th century church to your taxi driver, as it is a mouthful (we recommend writing it down). However, once you start walking through this magnificent building, you will understand why it is so fascinating. Originally commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, this church looks like many others from the outside, but underneath is a different story.
When you enter the church’s crypt, it is separated into five, dimly-lit chapels. The walls and alters are adorned with the bones of over 4,000 friars and poor Romans who were buried there sometime between the 16th and 19th centuries. Many of the bones are arranged in elaborate designs, making the crypt a macabre work of art.
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, Villa Borghese is Rome’s biggest and most beautiful public garden—and with a lake, a petting zoo, and rowboats, it’s also home to a ton of kid-friendly activities. From this vast and manicured park, you can also access the Villa Borghese gallery – housing Renaissance masterpieces from artists such as Caravaggio, Bernini, and Titian. Bring art history to life here with a private visit alongside an English-speaking guide.
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, which reside principally in the city’s scenic Jewish Quarter. In addition to vaunting kosher-friendly carbonara, this quiet cobblestoned quarter also houses some spectacular ruins – including Teatro Marcello. This theater dates back to 13BC and resembles the Colosseum (minus the crowds). Columns and remains of temples are scattered around this open-air theater. After wandering the Jewish Quarter’s back streets, walk to the nearby Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) for a gelato at Tiberino Gelateria.
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, Renaissance palaces and ivy-clad buildings, Trastevere bustles with local charm during the day and at night. It’s also home to some of the city’s most authentic Roman ristorante – including Trattoria Da Teo, Pizzeria Ai Marmi and Da Enzo al 29.
Ready to roam through the real Rome? Contact me to start making your dream trip a Roman reality.