Rome is a city full of museums, squares, iconic Roman landmarks and other highlights. The Italian city has more to offer than just the mainstream tourist attractions like the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Spanish steps, Villa Borghese, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon, or, in the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and Sistine Chapel. Here are a few attractions you might not hear of but are worthwhile visiting to enrich your Rome experience even further.
Via Appia Antica & Catacombs – Built in 312 BC, the Via Appia Antica, also known as the Appian Way, was one of Rome's first paved stone roads. It was once a key entryway into the city. As burials were not permitted within the city walls, the road's initial stretch is lined with monuments and ancient tombs. More than 300km of tunnels are located underground, where early Christians used to bury their dead or hold covert church services during the worst times of persecution. Guided tours are available for the San Callisto, San Sebastiano, and Santa Domitilla catacombs.
Domus Aurea – If you like ancient art, history and architecture, check out this hidden gem. Also known as Nero's Golden House, after Rome's Great Fire of 64 AD, Emperor Nero had his residence rebuilt, transforming it into a sprawling palace complex with over 300 rooms surrounded by gold leaf walls, marble, and ivory. The site has been hidden underground for centuries, with most parts still below street level.
Castel Sant'Angelo National Museum – Emperor Hadrian planned and commenced construction of this castle around 123 BC. Its uses have changed over time, serving as an imperial burial site, asylum, a papal court fortress, a torture prison, and finally, a museum during its existence. Among the rich stories and legends attributed to this place, one states that the Archangel Michael appeared above the castle in 590 CE as a sign of the plague's end. Centuries later, a marble statue of Archangel Michael was placed atop the castle to commemorate the story.
Palazzo Colonna – A must-see in Rome is this hidden baroque treasure. This palace is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular of all the opulent ones in Rome. The palace houses one of the best collections of paintings, frescoes, and priceless items in its gilded halls.
Gladiator for a day – Enroll in the Gladiator School of Rome to experience what it's like to wield a sword like Spartacus. The two-hour private lesson, which takes place near the Colosseum on the Appian Way, includes clothing, weapon rental and admission to the Gladiator School of Rome Museum.
Tivoli Day Trip – Discover the sights in the picturesque surroundings of Rome. This includes the World Heritage-listed Villa d'Este and the Hadrian's Villa, which were constructed as retreats for the Roman elite.
Pompeii Day Trip – A trip to Rome can only be completed with this full-day excursion to Pompeii. Tour options include hiking to the crater of Mt. Vesuvius in summer and visiting the ruins of Pompeii.