Top 5 Unconventional Rome Attractions

Rome has much to offer in terms of ancient ruins, delicious food, and museums with beautiful Renaissance paintings. When tourists visit, they will almost certainly see the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Roman Forum, and Colosseum. But have you ever wondered what hidden gems lay in the ruins of this ancient city?

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - Flickr: Sarah-Rose
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva – Flickr: Sarah-Rose

Nestled just behind the Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva houses splendid art and architecture without the bustling crowds of many other Rome attractions. It is the only Gothic style church in Rome, and is darker and less flamboyant than the typical Catholic basilicas. It is unassuming from the outside and easy to pass by if you are not looking for it.

But that all changes once you go inside; the simple yet elegant bright blue ceilings replicate the blue skies over Italy and the beautiful paintings will inspire you. Don’t miss the sculpture of Bernini’s Elephant outside of the entrance!

 

Mercato di Campo dè Fiori

Mercato di Campo de Fiori - Flickr: g e n e v i e v e
Mercato di Campo de Fiori – Flickr: g e n e v i e v e

The charming piazza hosts a farmer’s market with homemade pasta, golden olive oil, and beautiful flowers in astounding colours and arrangements. You will also find regional vegetables, spices, and wine.

The vendors are passionate, and will readily let you try their products. In the evening, the plaza buzzes with nightlife. The market clears away and you can enjoy a meal or drink at one of the surrounding restaurants or bars.

 

Giolitti

Giolitti - Flickr: An Mai
Giolitti – Flickr: An Mai

Tucked away between the Pantheon and the Italian Parliament, this gelato shop is perhaps the most famous in Rome – and with good reason. Though there are many high-quality gelaterias in Rome, Giolitti is the best in town.

You can savour multiple flavours on a single cone to go, or relax on a streetside table and enjoy every moment. Try limoncella and menta, a welcome indulgence to cool you off in the heat of Rome.

 

Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano

-basilica-st-john-lateran
Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – flickr: Benson Kua

You may not have heard of this church, but among the four major basilicas in Rome, this one ranks the highest and the oldest – making it greater (In papal terms) than the famous St. Peter’s Basilica.

We recommend an early visit as it is located further out than most of the popular attractions and the metro will generally be less crowded.  The highlight of the church is most definitely the baroque style statues of the 12 apostles, intricately carved into the niches of the nave.

 

 Villa Borghese

villa-borghese
Villa Borghese – Flickr: Emanuele

Last but not least, one of the best hidden gems of Rome, it’s easy to overlook visiting this wonderful gallery and villa on your trip to Rome. However, we think it deserves more praise, the grounds of the Villa Borghese itself are beautiful – sit on a bench and peacefully watch the world go by or be more adventurous and take a caddie around the park.

The villa itself is just as gorgeous, housing one of the largest collections of Baroque artistry from the likes of Bernini and Caravaggio. Be sure to book in advance for a truly memorable visit.