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Hey! We are two Michiganders with adventurous souls looking to explore the beauties and wonders of this spectacular world. Our mission is to provide you with budget-friendly itineraries that inspire and encourage you to get outside, eat delicious foods, and enjoy high-quality brews. Ultimately, there are three key ingredients to any amazing trip: 

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  • Writer's pictureJ&L

Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

Updated: Mar 29


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

Rome is home to ancient ruins, towering cathedrals, magnificent gardens, and the world's smallest country. You probably know the top sights of Rome without even starting to plan your trip. Sights such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican City and Trevi Fountain are certainly worth a visit, however, we have created this guide to share the lesser-known spots of Rome that are equally as incredible. All of the below suggestions are within walking distance from the city center, although they can also be reached by metro.



1. Trastevere


Trastevere is a neighborhood south of the Tiber River that is home to many authentic trattorias (Italian restaurants), pizzerias, and lively bars. Off the beaten path, we found Trastevere to be an ideal lodging location in Rome that both minimizes crowds and allows you to be in close proximity to the main sights Rome has to offer. Our favorite restaurants in Trastevere are Tonnarello and Trapizzino.


You may also consider taking this popular food tour of Trastevere!


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

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2. Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary


This non-profit organization is in the heart of Rome, yet is very easy to walk by without knowing it is there! Across the street from another Rome favorite, Pizza Florida, you will find a set of stairs taking you down into the Largo di Torre Argentina.


The cat ladies of Rome feed and care for these abandoned and malnourished cats. This is not your typical animal shelter, rather it is located among ancient ruins! The cats are free to roam through the Largo di Torre Argentina with food, love, and lots of pets awaiting them when they return to the cat sanctuary.


Entrance: completely free!


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

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3. Testaccio Market


This glass-roofed market is home to over 100 food stalls on the south side of Rome. Wander through the rows and let your nose lead you to a delicious meal or stop by the popular Mordi e Vai (translated as Grab and Go) for a classic Roman panini. Try the owner Sergio's recommendation, Allesso di Scottona with Chicory, or simmered beef with a leafy green garnish.


Try: Authentic Roman Paninis at Mordi e Vai for only €3.5!



4. Aventine Hill


There are several reasons to visit Aventine Hill. Not only is it one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built, but it is home to several hidden gems that will make your climb worth the effort



Buco della serratura dell'Ordine di Malta

Translated as "keyhole of the Knights of Malta", this gem located on Aventine Hill is an ornate keyhole that draws crowds of people. Why? This keyhole perfectly frames a beautiful view of St Peter's Basilica among a garden backdrop.


Recommendation: Get to Aventine Hill early in the morning for the most picture-perfect view through the keyhole.



Gardino degli Aranci

At the top of Aventine Hill, you will find several noteworthy gardens. The first is Gardino degli Aranci which is a secluded garden filled with orange trees! If you head to Terrazza (Terrace) Belvedere Aventino within the garden, you will be rewarded with views of the city and Tiber River.


Gem: A true hidden gem that only the locals know about!

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Roseto di Roma Capitale

Another favorite on Aventine Hill is the Roseto di Roma Capitale, or the Rome Rose Garden. This garden is filled with roses from around the world and contains over 1,000 varieties! It is free to enter and open to the public. We recommend to have a picnic among the beautiful flowers or to gaze out onto the city views from the top of Aventine Hill.


Note: The best time to visit the garden for beautiful blooming flowers is from May to June.


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

5. Vatican Necropolis & St Peter's Tomb


One of the most popular places to visit in Rome is St Peter's Basilica. However, what most people do not know, is that you can get tickets to be one of only 250 people given daily tours of the necropolis. The underground necropolis is home to the tomb of the apostle St Peter, the site of the rock in which the church was built.


These tickets are not something that you can walk up and buy for the day of your visit, making it a hidden gem for those who complete a little bit of prep work. If you are interested, contact the Vatican Scavi Office prior to your trip to request tickets (€13 per person). Tickets are not guaranteed due to the limited slots in their daily tours. However, it is certainly worth reaching out for the opportunity to witness such an incredible monument.


Tip: Contact the Vatican Scavi Office far in advance and provide all dates that you will be in Rome for your best chance at acquiring tickets.


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

Alternatively, if you are not able to acquire tickets for the necropolis, all visitors to St Peter's Basilica are able to enter the Vatican Grottoes for free. The grotto entrance is located near the main altar and houses a replica tomb of St Peter (directly above his tomb in the necropolis), along with tombs of over 90 popes, royalty, and dignitaries.


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Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

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6. Via Margutta


Via Margutta is a beautiful street decorated with hanging ivy and beautiful flowers. Hidden in plain sight, this street is located directly between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. Take a stroll down this alluring side-road and escape the hustle and bustle of the main drag.


Did you know? Via Margutta became popular after the main character of Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn, Joe Bradley, was shown living on this street. Visit Joe Bradley's palazzo at Via Margutta 51!


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems


7. Villa Borghese


Villa Borghese is located on the north side of Rome (about a 10 minute walk from the Spanish Steps) and is well worth the visit for those who enjoy green spaces. Stretching across roughly 200 acres, Villa Borghese offers a peaceful serenity so close to the hustle and bustle of Italy's capital city.


With scenic lakes, magnificent greenery, temples, museums, and even a zoo, Villa Borghese is the most beautiful park in Rome. For art lovers, you may also consider visiting the Borghese Museum (requires tickets in advance).


Views: Don't miss Passeggiata del Pincio (Pincian Hill) for beautiful views over Piazza del Popolo (People's Square).


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

Located northeast of the Villa Borghese is the Coppedè District, a fairytale district that most tourists do not know exists. This district is known for its unique architecture, eateries, and art. Piazza Mincio, home to much of the unique architecture, is a 15 minute walk from the Borghese Gallery. You may also consider visiting Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata, which is the first South American national church in Rome. Coppedè District is certainly worth a stroll if you are in the area.


Rome, Italy: 8 Hidden Gems

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8. St Clement Basilica

Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00-12:30 & 3:00-6:00pm


Every church in Rome is filled with unique art and history. One of our favorite (and lesser-known) churches we visited while in Rome was St Clement Basilica. Not only does it have frescoes by Masolino in the main church, but you can also descend into the ruins of an earlier church. However, it does not end after descending one level. Descend one sub-level further to explore the eerie remains of a Pagan temple to Mithras. This was such a unique experience to explore and wander through ancient history.

Admission: Upper Church: Free; Lower Church & Temple: 10



You may also consider one of the below tours of Rome:



Happy Adventuring!

J&L



Travel Planning Resources

Below are the resources we use to plan all of our trips, find great deals, and pack our bags with affordable gear. We received a small kickback whenever you purchase something through a link on our site. But rest assured, there is no additional cost to you. In fact, in some cases you even get a greater discount for shopping through NBV! A Win, Win!

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