10 secret spots in Rome

If you feel like getting off the beaten track in Rome, take note of the best-hidden secret spots in the Italian capital and get to know the city like a local!

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

9 min read

10 secret spots in Rome

Discovering the nooks and crannies of Rome | ©Cristina Gottardi

Beyond the guided tours of the Colosseum, the entrances to the Vatican, the best squares of Rome, its impressive fountains and streets of rich opulence, hides a secret Rome, of corners that the tourist's eye does not usually perceive.

That's why you are reading these lines: to get out of the herd and add to your list of things to see and do in Rome, the lost jewels of the Eternal City. First of all, I propose you to take a tour to get into the most mysterious Rome.

The ideal option

Rome Private Tour

Let yourself be guided by a local guide through the hidden Rome to discover the secrets hidden in the Eternal City.

With this private tour with aperitif included you will not miss any detail of the essential monuments, thanks to a three-hour tour that will also take you to the less known places of the city.

The churches of Piazza Navona, the fascinating oculus of the Pantheon or the narrow streets of Trastevere are some of the Roman corners that you will discover in a different way thanks to this private tour of the hidden Rome. Accompanied at all times by a local guide who will tell you all the secrets and legends, you will visit unique places in a personalized way that you might not understand on your own. In addition, this tour includes a drink and local snack.

Here are the 10 hidden places in Rome that you will reach only if you know them. Take note of where to find them.

1. Quartiere Coppedè

One of the corners of Quartiere Coppedè| ©Flavia Curcuraci / Flickr.com
One of the corners of Quartiere Coppedè| ©Flavia Curcuraci / Flickr.com

Rome's Quartiere Coppedè neighborhood is like stepping into a fairy tale squeezed between four streets, on the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento. There are a couple of very nice buildings and a square with a fountain that, although they will taste little will make the visit totally worthwhile.

An advantage of this area is that, not being so well known, is a refuge from the tourists who crowd the streets of Rome, where to rest and take some very nice pictures in the light of sunset. It is one of the plans that I recommend you to do on your visit to Rome and it will certainly be one of the stops if you book a private tour of hidden Rome.

Book a private tour of hidden Rome

2. Piccola Londra

Colorful houses in Piccola Londra| ©Tripadvisor
Colorful houses in Piccola Londra| ©Tripadvisor

Go to Piccola Londra knowing you'll fall in love with its Notting Hill-style cottages, only with the Mediterranean magic of Rome. The name of this neighborhood literally means Little London, and it was built in the early 20th century in an attempt to modernize Rome and adapt it to the style of other European cities. The contrast this neighborhood offers with the rest of the city is a testament to this.

Piccola Londra is only a few streets, as the project by architect Quadrio Pirani was never extended, but you can stroll through this unusual part of London on Via Bernardo Celentano, just off Via Flaminia.

Book a tour of the Borghese Gallery and Gardens

3. The lock of the Knights of Malta

The view from the
The view from the "hole" of Rome| ©Wikimedia

The Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome, the southernmost of the city. In the days of the Roman Republic, it was home to many of the city's plebeians, but today it is an area of elegant mansions and gardens.

Of all these gardens there is one that is probably the favorite of many of Rome's locals, the Giardino degli Aranci or Garden of Oranges, which was formerly an orchard of Dominican monks. This park, which is free to enter, contains a not-so-well-kept secret of Rome, a keyhole through which the dome of St. Peter's Basilica can be seen in the distance.

It is undoubtedly an ideal way to photograph this iconic site after your visit to St. Peter's Basilica, so add this visit to your planning, as both for the views and the walk is a must. The best time to visit the Orange Garden is one hour before sunset, although at this time you will find more tourists.

  • Take the opportunity to see it... before or after visiting the Trastevere district, as it is just a short walk across the river.
  • Hours: from 7 a.m. to sunset, i.e. until 6 p.m. from October to February, 8 p.m. from March to September and 9 p.m. from April to August.

Book a private tour of hidden Rome

4. Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio

Walking around Rome| ©Javon Swaby
Walking around Rome| ©Javon Swaby

The Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio is a place I can't resist mentioning to you and will almost certainly be one of the stops if you book a guided tour of Rome's catacombs and basilicas. True, there is no rival to St. Peter's Basilica, but this is not about finding a basilica to rival that of the Holy See: it is about finding the place that other eyes will not, mistakenly, consider worth perching on.

Because of its proximity to the Colosseum, the Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio is the one that perfectly fulfills what we are looking for. Its circular architecture, its somber interior decorated with frescoes of martyrdoms and its sepulchral atmosphere create an atmosphere that you will find in few places in Rome.

To get to the Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio, it is best to walk taking advantage of your guided tour of the Colosseum. It will take you about 10 to 15 minutes to get to Via di Santo Stefano Rotondo 7.

  • Take the opportunity to see it... when you make your visit to the Colosseum because it is quite close.
  • Hours: it is open to the public from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm from October to March, and from April to September from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Book a guided tour of the Catacombs and Basilicas of Rome

5. Palazzo Doria Pamphilij

Inside the Palazzo Doria Pamphilij| ©Wikimedia
Inside the Palazzo Doria Pamphilij| ©Wikimedia

This palace is one of the most overlooked places in all of Rome, although it can be included if you book a private tour of hidden Rome. It is in the center of the city, near the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, and on the outside it is beautiful, but inside it is a baroque fantasy that houses a museum that you can visit, the Doria Pamphilij Gallery.

The museum collection belongs to the family that gives its name to the palace, with works of art by Raphael, Titian and Velazquez among other painters, exhibited in a gallery decorated with opulence and luxury.

A place to rest from the hustle and bustle of the Roman streets, especially inside the museum where you will find a courtyard with columns where the sun shines in a special way.

  • Take the opportunity to see it... when you are in the center of Rome, either throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain or visiting the Pantheon in the evening.
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and holidays, and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays.
  • Price: 14 € with audio guide.

Book tickets for the Palazzo Doria Pamphilij

6. Park of the Aqueducts

The Aqua Claudia aqueduct| ©Wikimedia
The Aqua Claudia aqueduct| ©Wikimedia

If you have seen Sorrentino's La Grande Bellezza, you will be familiar with this park from one of its scenes, and if not, you will discover for the first time a place with the air of a ruin of the ancient world, a park whose vegetation has grown among the remains of a lost civilization.

The Park of the Aqueducts is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places in Rome, especially at sunset, when you can see framed one of the arches of the aqueducts of Aqua Felix or Aqua Claudia, which are still standing in this park.

Visiting the park is completely free and you can easily reach it from the city center on metro line A, going to the Lucio Sestio or Giulio Agricola stations, which are just a few minutes walk from the Park of the Aqueducts. In addition, you can book an electric bike tour of Rome's Appian Way, the aqueducts and the catacombs.

  • Take the opportunity to see it... if you have a free day, because it is quite far from the center of Rome.

Book an electric bike tour of the aqueducts and the catacombs

7. Tiber Island

The Tiber Island| ©Massimo Virgilio
The Tiber Island| ©Massimo Virgilio

The Tiber River divides the historic center of Rome and the district of Trastevere. Over the river hangs the Ponte Cestio that connects to the small Tiber Island, charming and picturesque, like a medieval town in tiny, with its old bridges and its church. It once housed a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, which was built to celebrate that the plague had stopped ravaging Rome. This temple is today one of the most important hospitals in Rome.

Strolling around Tiber Island was one of my favorite pastimes during my last visit to Rome, and I went back one last time before catching my flight back, plus it's one of the places you'll see if you book a tour of Trastevere or from which to tour Rome's Jewish Quarter.

During the summer, the island hosts the Isola del Cinema film festival. There are also bars, restaurants and food stalls along the banks of the river, giving it a festive and certainly memorable atmosphere.

Book a cruise on the Tiber

8. Michelangelo's Moses

Michelangelo's Moses| ©Wikimedia
Michelangelo's Moses| ©Wikimedia

During your visit to Rome you will get to know in depth the art and genius of Michelangelo Buonarroti: the Pietà, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, but you will not fully appreciate his art without admiring with your own eyes the Moses.

Located in the Tomb of Pope Julius II in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli (in the square of the same name), it is a sculptural ensemble full of disappointments: during the course of the creation of the work, the pope interrupted his donations to Michelangelo and what was to be a colossal work of 40 sculptures remained a scene in which the figure of Moses stands out.

Something curious about his image is that it appears gored, following a tradition that according to historians derives from a mistranslation of the Bible, which makes the light that falls on the face of Moses somewhat disconcerting.

Book a guided tour of the Colosseum

9. Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi, at the Gianicolo

The fountain at the top of the Gianicolo| ©Wikimedia
The fountain at the top of the Gianicolo| ©Wikimedia

Another of the locations of Sorrentino's film, The Great Beauty, Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi has a monument to the military and political figure of the same name, and a wonderful 17th century fountain, the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola.

It is located at the top of the Gianicolo hill, also known as the eighth hill of Rome, and will offer you beautiful views of the city especially at sunrise or sunset.

  • Take the opportunity to see it... whenever you feel like taking in spectacular views of the city from the Gianicolo hill.

Book a private tour of hidden Rome

10. Borromini's perspective

Borromini's Perspective| ©Wikimedia
Borromini's Perspective| ©Wikimedia

Finally, we come to our tenth hidden gem of Rome: the Borromini Perspective, one of the most fascinating sights in all of Rome. Located in a courtyard full of orange trees in the Palazzo Spada, it is an optical illusion commissioned by Cardinal Spada. An eight-meter long gallery with a sculpture dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of war, which in reality seems much longer.

This effect, the work of the brilliant mind of the architect Giovanni Borromini, was created using an ascending floor and a descending ceiling, with side columns that get smaller and smaller to simulate the effect of remoteness.

All a small theatrical spectacle very typical of the Baroque aesthetics that is worth seeing by booking a private tour of hidden Rome or on your visit to Trastevere and the Jewish ghetto.

  • Take the opportunity to see it... before crossing the river to visit the famous basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
  • Hours: Palazzo Spada is located in Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13 and you can visit it from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.
  • Price: The entrance fee is 5 €.

Book a private tour of hidden Rome