Friday, November 16, 2012

Three Lesser Known Attractions in Rome

If you read our post yesterday on Why You Should Extend Your Trip to Rome, and followed our lead by adding some extra time to your visit of the Eternal City, you may now be wondering what to do with a free day or two? Ultimately it will depend on where your interests lie (outlet shopping tops my lists when Travis isn't given any input) however we've found three incredible, unique, and lesser known sites that are both budget and time friendly. 

Centrale Montemartini

Part of the Capitoline Museums, this exhibition is housed in a former thermoelectric plant (Rome's first electrical plant), creating a spectacular juxtaposition of industrial architecture and classical sculpture. Although originally intended to act as a temporary home to hundreds of Roman sculptures, it now hosts a permanent exhibition as well as regularly rotating exhibitions and events. Although museums aren't usually my first choice to fill a day, this one is spectacular and, besides having the museum almost exclusively to yourself (we were two of a dozen visitors), it can easily be covered in an hour or two and the setup provides for some wonderful photo opportunities. 

Admission: 6.50 Euro/person (combination tickets available with other Capitoline Museums)
How to get there: Metro to Piramide or Garbatella station and a short walk from there. 

San Clemente Basilica

On its own the Basilica of San Clemente, dating back to the 11th century, would be a worthy stop, with it's byzantine mosaics, gilded alter, and intricately tiled floor.  However, like everything in Rome, it's built on top of something else; San Clemente not only houses a 4th century basilica underneath its foundation, but also a house and temple from the 1st century further down and remains below that dating back to the 2nd century BC. Excavations of the basilica, house (with flowing spring water), and temple are largely complete and open to visitors. Just blocks from the Colosseum, it's incredible this site isn't overrun with tourists. 

Beautiful mosaic work in the current Basilica

Original frescoes in the 4th century Basilica

The 4th Century Basilica excavation

Admission:  5 Euro/person
How to get there: Just off of Piazza San Clemente, 5 minute walk from the Colosseum.

The Capuchin Crypts

Gaining in popularity after appearing in Rick Steeve's 2012 guide to Rome, the entrance fee appears to have increased, however at 6 Euros/person it's still a great deal and includes access to a fully refurbished museum on the history of the Capuchin Monks. As for the crypts, they are by far the most bizarre thing we've ever seen. Comprised of six small rooms located underneath the church, the crypt contains the remains of four thousand bodies - believed to be Capuchin Monks - arranged in intricate patterns along the walls, ceiling, and floor. Completely creepy, the history of the crypts is also extremely interesting and the location, in the heart of Via Veneto and La Dolce Vita, can't be beat. 

Admission: 6 Euro/person

How to get there: Barberini is the closest metro stop, however easily accessible by foot as well and the area is well suited to a nice stroll.
Website:  (in Italian)

Now you know how we escaped the tourist trail for a few hours in Rome and hopefully have a new site (or three) to check out on your next visit. One of the wonderful things about a city like Rome, with so much history and culture, is that hidden attractions like these are everywhere, waiting to be discovered, and with a little research travelers can find their own way to get off the beaten path. 

By Calli D with 1 comment


Thank you very much for recommending such wonderful places to visit in Rome.

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Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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