Many flock to Rome to see 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and a thriving culture spread all over the city. And who can forget The Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum? But more than that, Rome is also a place where culture, art and architecture can be found in the most undisclosed places, outside of what’s written in the tourist books.

Our favorite sites—also recommended by the Romans who’ve lived there for years—are San Clemente, Appian Way, Trastevere, Villa Torlonia and Antico Caffè Greco. These places have deep historical roots often missed by the millions who step inside the ancient city of Rome, but they deserve just as much of the attention.

Bascilica San Clemente

Basilica San Clemente

(Image source: Basilica San Clemente)

If you’re ready to step away from The Vatican and discover a hidden treasure buried beneath the ground, then make sure to add Basilica San Clemente to your sightseeing list. The current structure you see today was built during the Middle Ages around 1110, however, underneath (a second level) remains an earlier church from the 4th century, converted out of the home of a Roman nobleman. Below the church (a third level) is an old warehouse, which used to be a sanctuary of the cult of Mithras, an old Persian god.

Appian Way

Appian Way

(Image source: Revealed Rome)

Although many Romans don’t bike around the city, a popular place for locals to cycle is along the Appian Way. This strategic road began construction in 312 BC, which connected Rome to Brindisi. To this day, the original paving remains.

As you ride along, get ready to be transported back in time, where you’ll encounter catacombs, tombs, old bridges, and the arches of Claudian Aqueduct. The archeological sites here are truly breathtaking!

We recommend you rent a bike at Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica. The best time to go is on a Sunday when they block the road off from cars.

Trastevere

Trastevere, Rome

(Image source: Lonely Planet)

Trastevere is a lively neighborhood, considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in Rome. The well-known Piazza Santa Maria is located here, surrounded by small restaurants and bars. It is also the best area in the city to catch various street performers such as fire-breathers, musicians, magicians, dancers, painters and many others.

Once you’ve had your share of watching all the excitement on the street, we suggest heading to a hole in the wall called Da Enzo for lunch or dinner. There you can try cibo romano (Roman style Tripe) and carciofi alla giudia (Jewish style fried artichokes). Absolutely mouth-watering.

Ready to have an unusual drink such as the “Black Velvet” (half Guinness, half prosecco)? Head over to Caffé della Scala to get a taste of this delightful drink. Once you’re ready to get your groove on, make your way to Lettere Caffè Gallery for some live music. There’s also Freni e Frizioni, a popular former autobody shop turned lounge bar located here, where you’ll meet a mix of locals and Americans from the nearby University.

Villa Torlonia

Villa Torlonia(Image source: Bandb Rome)

Former home to a local wealthy family, and then to Mussolini (a fascist Italian dictator from 1922 to 1943)—the Villa Torlonia is now a museum not known by many tourists. Nonetheless, it has an interesting history dating back hundreds of years. A 3rd- and 4th-century Jewish catacomb was discovered in the north-west area of the grounds in 1919, and was then ordered by Mussolini to be transformed into bunkers against bombers and airstrikes in the 1930s.

The most famous and loved sites located on the large estate is the “Casina delle Civette” (House of the Owls). The name most likely came from the owl theme found throughout the house, especially on the magnificent stained glass windows.

Antico Caffè Greco

Pro Loco di Roma

(Image source: Pro Loco di Roma)

Romans love their coffee! If you do too, we suggest you drink a cup at Antico Caffè Greco, better known as Caffè Greco. This is the oldest cafe in Rome, established in 1760 on Via dei Condotti. Aside from the aromatic and smooth coffee, Caffè Greco also has the world’s best hot chocolate, and delicate cakes and sweets to go with it. The atmosphere is oozing with history, and the waiters wearing tuxedos make you feel like a proper royal. Although it’s a bit expensive ($8 for an espresso-based drink), it’s definitely worth the experience. It was also a go-to spot for various famous people who traveled to this ancient city such as Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill, John Keats and Richard Wagner.

Rome has a rich history and a lively culture waiting to be explored every day by visitors from all over the world. Although it may take a few trips back to get a feel for the real Roma, you can still hit up all these hidden gems the first time around. From underground catacombs and early churches, to a 250 year old cafe and a luxurious palace, Rome offers bountiful surprises for everyone to see outside of the usual touristy hot spots.

If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!