Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Rome Beyond the Obvious: Things to See, Things to Do

Rome Beyond the Obvious: Things to See, Things to Do

Old Mar 12th, 2023, 08:37 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 292
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Rome Beyond the Obvious: Things to See, Things to Do

I will soon be returning to Rome for my 4th visit in the past 43 years -- lucky me! Full disclosure, however: on two of those three previous visits, I was in Rome only for fairly brief periods at the beginning or end of longer trips exploring other parts of Italy. So, in total, I have maybe spent 15 days or so in Rome on previous trips.. On this trip, I have budgeted a full week.

I have a massive stack of guiidebooks I intend to devour over the course of the next month (April 12th departure date). But Fodorites always have such a wealth of experiences, I thought I should also post an inquiry here (which might also be of use to other experienced Rome visitors in the future). I am pretty knowledgeable in Roman history, and my loves in travel are history, archaeology, architecture, art, gardens, and great views/landscapes. One objective for this trip I have already identified is to seek out every Caravaggio painting and Bernini sculpture I can find. I have already visited archaeological sites like the Vatican Necropolis, San Clemente, and the Domus Aurea (although I will probably re-visit all three), and I've done the Ostia and Tivoli/Hadrian's Villa day trips.

I look forward to reading your suggestions!
jeffergray is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2023, 09:21 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 25,136
Received 4 Likes on 3 Posts
If you like "themes," you could seek out Etruscan influences in Rome and nearby, sights, relics, etc. We spent most of a day at Villa Giulia and the National Etruscan Museum. Nice gardens. Pre-pandemic, there was a small restaurant, but it appears to be closed for refurbishing.

https://www.museoetru.it/

If you haven't been to Orvieto, it's an easy day trip by train, and there are several Etruscan and Medieval archeological points of interest both in town and within a short walk of the centro. Very nice town, too.

https://www.pozzodellacava.it/?lang=en
Jean is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2023, 09:51 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 367
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jeffergray
One objective for this trip I have already identified is to seek out every Caravaggio painting and Bernini sculpture I can find.

I look forward to reading your suggestions!
Ok, so the Borghese gallery is super obvious. Not so obvious is the genius move by two Philadelphia matrons on our tour. They booked TWO tours on the same day, doubling the artwork they could see in the limited times. I think they may have allowed themselves lunch in between.

Also, check the Palazzo Colonna. Not sure of its specific artists but it's quite the collection.
FTOttawa is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2023, 12:36 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,807
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You may well have done these: climbing to the the top of St. Peter's Basilica and taking the Scavi tour underneath, the Capuchin Crypt, and the Baths of Diocletian.
KTtravel is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2023, 08:46 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1,754
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jeffergray
and my loves in travel are history, archaeology, architecture, art, gardens, and great views/landscapes. !
You can easily combine

belvedere gianicolo

The Spanish temple inside the Spanish academy

and Fontana dell'Acqua Paola

If you want to see the temple you need to check the opening dates. The other two are open air. If you time it right you could even catch the mid day canon firing.

Other options. Go up to the Campidoglio bar for some views over looking the city. You can also go next door to the viewing platforms at the Altare della Patria

The French Cathedral whose name escapes me but it's near the Senate might interest you for the art inside.

Traveler_Nick is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2023, 11:55 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,083
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick
You can easily combine

belvedere gianicolo

The Spanish temple inside the Spanish academy

and Fontana dell'Acqua Paola

If you want to see the temple you need to check the opening dates. The other two are open air. If you time it right you could even catch the mid day canon firing.

Other options. Go up to the Campidoglio bar for some views over looking the city. You can also go next door to the viewing platforms at the Altare della Patria

The French Cathedral whose name escapes me but it's near the Senate might interest you for the art inside.
I think Nick is thinking of the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, which has three paintings by Caravaggio. It's not a cathedral, though.

Other places that I don't think have been mentioned:

the well-preserved Baths of Caracalla (someone mentioned the Baths of Diocletian, but I think they might have meant Caracalla, because the few remains of the Baths of Diocletian are scattered around a wide area)

The best place to see some of the Baths of Diocletian is in the National Roman Museum of the Baths of Diocletian, where you can see one large hall that was once part of this enormous bath complex. The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli was constructed inside another hall of these Baths, and the conversion to a church was designed by Michelangelo.

Another branch of the National Roman Museum is nearby, at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. This has a large collection of antique sculpture, a wonderful frescoed room from the suburban villa of Livia, the wife of Augustus. There are many other artifacts of Roman life there. One ticket gives access to all four sites of the National Roman Museum.

The Capitoline Museum, above the Roman Forum, has too many masterpieces for me to list, but since you mentioned Bernini, his Medusa's Head is there, as well as many ancient Roman sculptures and a portion of the ancient Annals of Rome. This is the world's oldest public museum, founded in the 15th century.

the Barberini Gallery has a wonderful collection of Italian paintings from the late Middle Ages to early modern times. The Corsini Gallery in Trastevere is part of the same museum.

Near the Corsini Gallery is the Villa Farnesina, a Renaissance Villa set in a lovely garden. The rooms are restored, and include frescoes by Raphael.

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a Renaissance Palazzo still owned by the descendants of the Doria Pamphilj family. The rooms are furnished in period style, and the family's art collection is on display.
bvlenci is online now  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 02:42 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,294
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My most memorable experience was renting a bicycle for a day. Sounds like mayhem, but the streets in Rome vary in width so much that there's always room for a bike, and I found the drivers to be over-the-top courteous too. This gives you a feel for the size of the city that you don't get plodding about, and you can zip round the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, skirt by the Forum, head over the bridge into the back streets and plazas of Trastevere, get panoramic views up (puff puff) atop heights west of the river, pass by the Vatican - - it's your oyster, it's a liberating feel, and you assemble a real feel for the spaces and dynamics of the city in one fell swoop. If you head into the ant lanes between Piazza Navonna, Pantheon, Trevi and Spanish Steps you might want to walk it there, but you'll have earned a gentle stroll and the gelato.
dfourh is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 04:59 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,974
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
If you want to do more than just see the Caravaggios and Berninis, I highly recommend Context Travel's in-person walking tours on them. I've done the Caravaggio, Bernini/Borromini and not art but also the Palatine Hill walking tours and learned so much. It was a much better experience than just walking in on my own and seeing them. One of the tour guides on the Caravaggio tour is considered the current expert on Caravaggio and she is an incredible person to hear lecture on him. https://www.contexttravel.com/cities/rome
amyb is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 05:29 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 23,077
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For some interesting 20th cent. architecture stroll through Il Quartiere Coppede

https://flic.kr/p/a3C4Zr
and take the tram to visit Parco della Musica

https://flic.kr/p/a3ETfS
Michael is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 06:11 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,083
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just thought of a few other places you might want to visit, given your interest in archaeology.

The Case Romane al Celio, is a group of ancient houses and shops. Over the centuries, the use of the site changed several times, which was one of the most interesting aspects to me. They have guided tours in English. It's partially located under the Church of Saints Giovanni and Paolo, named after two Christian officials who lived in the complex, and who were placed under house arrest, and eventually executed in their own home, under the reign of Julian, who tried to restore the ancient pagan religion to Rome. The church is from the 14th century, but is built on the foundations of an ancient Roman church, parts of which are visible. The church has a beautiful cosmatesque floor (a type of medieval mosaic). A nearby bell tower is built on the remains of the ancient temple of the deified Emperor Claudius.

Trajan's Market, across from the Roman Forum. This was actually an administrative building more than a market, although there were shops on the lower level. You can visit at least two levels of the building. There is a museum there, and there are often temporary exhibits. Especially interesting is the Via Biberatica, an ancient Roman street, with Roman shopfronts. There is a video guide you can rent, and some sort of guide would be very helpful for this complex site.

The Domus Romana, also near the Roman Forum, is the remains of an upper-class Roman dwelling. There is a very well-done guided multimedia tour, available in English several times a day. Since the last time I was there, they expanded the tour to include material about Trajan's Market. I don't know if this is still included, but, if so, you might want to visit this before Trajan's Market.

The Basilica of Santa Sabina is probably the best-preserved ancient Christian basilica in Rome. It has some added medieval elements, but on the whole it gives an excellent idea of the ancient church. A mosaic above the door, shows two women, one in Greek dress and the other in Jewish dress, representing the unity of the two main strongholds of ancient Christianity. There is also a beautiful and unique carved wooden door showing scenes from the Bible. It's the best preserved example of ancient Roman woodcarving, most of which has not survived the centuries.

I would also recommend visiting some of the catacombs. The Catacomb of Priscilla has some excellent Roman Christian art. The catacomb of St. Agnes developed around the tomb of a young girl who was murdered because she refused to marry the son of a Roman official. Her foster sister was also killed, because she refused to stop praying at Agnes' tomb.They were around 12 years old, and their murder horrified even non-Christian Romans. Costanza, the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, had a mausoleum for herself constructed on the grounds of the cemetery. She ended up dying elsewhere, so wasn't buried in her mausoleum, which is now the Church of Santa Costanza. It has a marvellous mosaic frieze, part of which depicts an ancient Roman grape harvest. These two catacombs are relatively uncrowded. You have to take guided tours, but the groups are usually small enough that you can hear the guide and see what she's pointing at.

I may think of more additions to this post!

Last edited by bvlenci; Mar 13th, 2023 at 06:18 AM.
bvlenci is online now  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 06:30 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 29,781
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Add another vote for a visit to Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

For Bernini, visit Santa Maria della Vittoria:
https://www.turismoroma.it/en/places...della-vittoria

There was something about this church (not mention the faux dome) that beckoned us back:
https://santignazio.gesuiti.it/en/





​​​​​​


Last edited by TDudette; Mar 13th, 2023 at 06:46 AM.
TDudette is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 06:45 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,613
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just posted to someone else about our last Rome adventure--a food tour.

Background: Decades ago, we spent a solid week in Rome with our daughters who were "museum rats". Yes, we plied them with gelato, but for the most part, they willingly indulged our need to do endless walking tours, explore endless catacombs, spend hours in art museums, the Vatican, etc. Other than a daytrip to Pompeii, our entire time was spent in Rome.

We would return to Rome with them either at the beginning or end of other trips over the years, revisiting favorite sites and finding something we may have missed. All of these visits involved staying near the Pantheon.

For our last trip to Rome sans kids a few years ago, my husband and I decided we'd stay in the Aventino. We actually would have been happy returning to the Pantheon area (indeed we would walk down to it), but I'm so happy we did not. Our stay in Aventino and our tour of Testaccio become one of my favorite memories.
Trip Report Rome: A Short, but Calorically Gigantic, Stay in Aventino and Testaccio - Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (fodors.com)
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 09:28 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,068
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We also have been to Rome many times. One trip of 5 days was strictly Rome underground. Not the catacombs but fascinting buildings that lead to underground layers going back centuries. Google and youtube it.Wonderful.
jan47ete is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 10:17 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,379
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este (near each other) are both highlights and overlooked.
shelemm is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 12:47 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 29,781
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"“Go over to Via del Corso and take the 85 to Porta San Giovanni”. So we do. We go into St. John Laterno church and it is stupendous inside."

The above is from my notes from our 2008 trip to Rome. Hub and I were studying a bus map and a street worker gave us directions.

Please let everyone know where you visit.
TDudette is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2023, 01:04 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 10,900
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
The Campagna Amica Market is located between the Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum. It's a weekend local market selling regional food to the locals. Very few tourists but lots of wonderful samples of regional delicasies. Go if you can and do what the Romans do when they want local produce from the area. While you're in the area, check out the nearby views of the Roman Forum behind the Capital Museum.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 05:30 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here are some ideas:
  1. Appian Way: Take a bike ride or a walk along the ancient Appian Way, which is lined with tombs and ruins from ancient times.
  2. Palazzo Valentini: Visit the Palazzo Valentini for an interactive, multimedia tour of ancient Roman ruins that lie beneath the building.
  3. Borghese Gallery: This art museum houses an impressive collection of masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, and other famous artists.
  4. Capuchin Crypt: A macabre yet fascinating attraction, the Capuchin Crypt is decorated with the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin friars.
  5. Aventine Keyhole: Look through the Aventine Keyhole for a view of St. Peter's Basilica perfectly framed by a garden.
  6. Coppedè neighborhood: Explore the whimsical and fantastical architecture of the Coppedè neighborhood, a hidden gem in Rome.
  7. Gianicolo Hill: Take a stroll up Gianicolo Hill for stunning panoramic views of the city.
  8. Villa Doria Pamphili: This park is one of Rome's largest green spaces and offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  9. Trastevere neighborhood: Wander the charming streets of Trastevere, a neighborhood known for its narrow alleys, colorful buildings, and excellent restaurants.
  10. San Giovanni in Laterano: Visit the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the oldest and largest of Rome's four major basilicas.
lailamohammad8912 is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 08:52 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,083
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by TDudette
Add another vote for a visit to Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

For Bernini, visit Santa Maria della Vittoria:
https://www.turismoroma.it/en/places...della-vittoria

​​​​​​
I'm not a huge fan of Bernini, although I recognise his virtuosity.

Apart from that, there's something about this church that I find oppressive, partly because of its gloomy Baroque interior. The praying skeleton in the chapel floor doesn't elevate the mood. But especially the fresco on the ceiling disturbs me, showing the Catholic army of the Hapsburg emperor slaughtering a Czech Protestant army and throwing their corpses into Hell. That's the victory the church is named for, in the Battle of White Mountain. Not very eucumenical.
bvlenci is online now  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 09:13 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,403
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 1 Post
You could visit E.U.R. -- Mussolini's intended World's Fair site, which eventually morphed into an Olympic venue and planned community. Amid the brutal. fascist architecture you will find a museum with an enormous scale model of ancient Rome. https://mymodernmet.com/scale-model-ancient-rome/. I went once.

I have never succeeded in getting into the Tomb of the Scipios. You need to call and arrange a visit on certain dates. You can see the gate though, and you're near the Appian Way and its attractions.

Last edited by Fra_Diavolo; Mar 17th, 2023 at 09:38 AM.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2023, 05:38 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 292
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Thanks, FTOttawa. But is the Borghese Gallery really as big/time consuming as all that? I have been thinking that I might do one tour of it during regular hours, then go back for the late evening Friday tour.
jeffergray is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -