Real Rome Tours runs guided tours of Italy’s capital, and they have some fantastic expert tips for hidden Roman gems that you can visit in just one day…
Rome is simply iconic – full of amazing sights, sounds and tastes to discover and enjoy. The only downside tends to be the huge number of tourists! Luckily, there’s so much more to see in The Eternal City than the usual itinerary most visitors stick to. If you fancy something a bit more unusual, we’d suggest trying these off-the-beaten track destinations:
1. Case Romane
The fascinating Case Romane, with their beautifully frescoed rooms, are located between the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus and they were opened to the public in 2002.
These houses (also known as the home of the martyrs John and Paul) cover more than four centuries of history and a fascinating mixture of Paganism and Christianity runs through the site.
Originally shops and storerooms of a working-class building, they were transformed into an elegant upper-class residence during the 3rd century AD. The Casa Romane remains are right next to the San Clemente church, San Clemente’s Mithraic temple and a traditional Roman palazzo – there’s plenty of history to experience here!
The Casa Romane are pretty much completely ignored by most visitors to Rome, despite being just a short walk from sites like the Colosseum. Taking a stroll through the rooms is the best way to imagine how the ancient Romans really lived… there’s even a small, modern museum here that showcases archaeological discoveries from the site.
2. Basilica of The Holy Cross in Jerusalem (in the Esquilino quarter, not Jerusalem!)
One of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, the chapel’s floor was originally covered in soil from Jerusalem, hence the name!
Consecrated in 325, the original chapel on the site was built to house the relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ, which were brought to Rome from the Holy Land by Empress St. Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine I.
Several famous (disputed) relics can be seen here, including part of the panel which was hung on Christ’s Cross; two thorns of the Crown of Thorns; part of a nail; and three small wooden pieces of the True Cross.
There’s also the Legends of the True Cross fresco, a mosaic icon attributed to Pope Gregory I and the tomb of Cardinal Francisco de los Ángeles Quiñones sculpted by Jacopo Sansovino in 1536.
3. The Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish ghetto of Rome was established in 1555 in the Sant’Angelo district. It’s a hidden pearl between the Tiber river and Venice Square and is a vital cultural reference point for the entire Jewish community.
The Great Synagogue within the ghetto is a large two storey building with a square base surmounted by a large dome. This synagogue is a place of prayer and a vital cultural reference point for the entire Jewish community.
Nearby, the Portico d’Ottavia dates back to the 2nd century BC. Originally, the portico enclosed the Jupiter Stator and Juno Regina temples. In the middle ages a large fish market and a church were built on the ruins of the original porch.
From the Portico d’Ottavia there is a direct access to Teatro Marcello, known as the ‘small Colosseum’. Built in the closing years of the Roman Republic, the Teatro Marcello is a must for visitors to this area.
A picturesque medieval area, Trastevere (above) is the 13th, and one of the oldest, districts of Rome. Despite being in the centre of Rome, it has a beautiful small village feel to it.
Trastevere is just across the river from the major archaeological monuments of Ancient Rome. The narrow, cobbled streets are loaded with charm and outside the major squares the area can be quite quiet at night.
The heart of Trastevere is Piazza di Santa Maria, a square piazza lined with bars, faded palazzi and the church of Santa Maria.
Famous for an amazing array of high quality restaurants and traditional places to eat, Trastevere is a great place to end your day in Rome and enjoy a delicious Roman meal.
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you sure can see a lot of it in one! Whether you’re visiting Rome for the history, the art, the food or the nightlife, it’s not difficult to keep yourself entertained.
If you’d like to pack as much in as possible and learn the fascinating history surrounding all these sights, consider booking in to see all these sights on this popular tour from Real Rome Tours.
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