While there are plenty of things to see in Rome, more often than not, visitors will make their way to the main attractions – ones that are a must-see especially if you are a first-time visitor to the city. I can’t blame them for wanting to check the Colosseum, the most iconic symbol of Rome, along with other prominent attractions off your list.
However, as one of the top destinations in Europe, Rome can get kind of crazy but fortunately, there are as many hidden gems as they are renowned attractions. In a wonderful article by the NYTimes, where they list three quiet museums to see in Rome, their description of city couldn’t be more accurate:
For those who tire of jostling for enough space to fling a coin into the Trevi Fountain, or who, lining up outside the Colosseum, find themselves wondering if the lines at Disney World might have been shorter, Rome offers plenty of opportunities to escape the crowds.
The article goes on to describe the 3 off-the-beaten-path museums, in details, including one that I have yet to visit, Museo di Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. If you have time and need a break from the crowds, I would encourage you to visit these museums. In addition, they also briefly mentioned the Protestant Cemetery in Piramide and the Basilica of San Clemente (Read the full article at The New York Times).
…the Protestant Cemetery, you can commune in privacy with the spirits of Keats, Shelley and the other bright stars of art and literature buried along its serene, well-tended paths. The temperature drops even further at the Basilica of San Clemente, where you can descend to the mysterious underground vaults and winding tunnels that, in the third century, were used as a sanctuary where the cult of Mithras convened to worship an image of a god slaying a bull.
I’ve been to the Protestant cemetery while on a food tour, and considering the chaos beyond the cemetery walls, it’s incredibly serene and seriously feels like you’ve entered into another realm. However, I’m not a fan of spending time in a cemetery – no matter how beautiful.
The Basilica of San Clemente, though stunning, is not as quiet of a place. I often find large tour groups making their way here but crowds do thin out as you go further underground.
My favorite things to see in Rome, off-the-beaten path
To find complete isolation, one of my favorite places, just a short walk from Basilica of San Clemente is the chapel of St. Sylvester at Santi Quattro Coronati. Boasting frescoes dating back to the 13th century, this is my go-to place when I need to find a quiet space. There is hardly any one and it’s often just you – and the frescoes!
Also in the vicinity, is Santo Stefano Rotondo (also known as Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill), a round church and though featuring some gruesome frescoes of martyrdom, the sight of the three round naves lined with columns is mesmerizing.
Had enough of churches and museums? Just a few minutes walk from Santo Stefano Rotondo is Villa Celimontana, a lovely small park – at least compared to Villa Borghese – and one that is relatively quiet in the mornings except on weekends, of course. While here don’t forget to visit Case Romane, ancient Roman homes beneath the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
What are your favorite things to see in Rome that are off-the-beaten-path?