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Your favorite "just off the beaten tourist track" things to do in Rome

Your favorite "just off the beaten tourist track" things to do in Rome

Nov 14th, 2013, 07:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,962
Here are a few:

Colosseum underground tour.

MAXXI - fairly new modern art museum. The XXI stands for 21 as in 21st century.

Have you attended a Papal Mass yet? There is a general audience every Wednesday. I saw JPII 9 years ago.

Other people have mentioned Ostia Antica.

There is a church near Via del Corso where you can find the mummified head of (allegedly) St John the Baptist. There was a good writeup on SlowTrav, many years ago, that listed the places to find "gruesome Rome" (or something like that).

One time I took a list of places to find Michelangelo's works and visited as many of them as I could.

Caravaggio or Bernini or Borromini would be good ones to seek out, as well.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
flygirl is offline  
Nov 14th, 2013, 07:43 AM
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ps. I added the underground tour of the Colosseum because I think it's fairly recent.

BTW here are some SlowTrav links, one of which is the chilling things to find in Rome:


http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/children/pb_churches.htm (this is for kids but it looked cool even for adults!)

flygirl is offline  
Nov 15th, 2013, 06:03 AM
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Thank you all for the information and the links. This is a wonderful list!
KayTKay is offline  
Nov 15th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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flygirl I expect the mosque in Damascus might be upset to know it's head of John the Baptist has been cloned in Rome
bilboburgler is offline  
Nov 15th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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Santa Sabina basilica on the Aventine
wayfinder45 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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Two spots that are not really "hidden" but each time I've visited, they have been remarkedly unbusy and they do contain "hidden" treasures in plain sight.

1) Santa Maria sopra Minerva with a touchable Michelangelo, the sarcofogus of Catherine of Aragon, painting by Fra Lippi and Bernini's "Chick" in the piazza fronting the church. Near Piazza Navona. A coin needed to light the Michelangelo figure. Make sure to look up - the ceiling is beautiful.

2) The church that I don't remember the name of - big help, right? It's to the right if you are standing near the book stalls and facing the McDonalds at Piazza Republica. From this side you will see a relatively simple entrance with some very modern sculptures across a simple plain square. It's also a major boarding point for the Hop On/Hop Off busses. Inside is a remarkable place of a floor with inlaid panels of the zodiac signs (that is an accurate calendar with the interplay of the upper windows), an explanation of Copernicus' pendulum, incredible trompe d'oil painting and on the opposite side, a connection to the ancient baths. The church can also be entered from the bath and garden side. It's an interesting mix of very modern and extremely old but not the opulence of many Italian churches, peaceful spot right in the center of lots of busyness. And also a clean bathroom with no line (give a coin to the brother at the small souvenir counter). If you are looking for your astrological sign, Capricorn is hard to locate - it is closest to the altar and on the other side of the restricting velvet rope.
lukehead is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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Villa Borghese

Get tix online ahead of trip
Gardens are also beautiful
maryellen12 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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maryellen12 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 02:49 PM
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Did I miss when your trip is?

I just returned from Rome yesterday, and saw two exhibits that I can highly recommend

Cezanne and the Italian artists at the Complesso del Vittoriano



Modigliani and the Accursed Artists at the Palazzo Cipolla


Both were really well done and attendance surprisingly light even though they were very much on the beaten track, geographically.

These may close before you arrive, but I'd suggest looking to see what other special exhibits might be on while you're there, if you like that kind of thing. Both of these were in small spaces, so don't take tons of time, but were certainly highlights for me.

(we also took in a Duchamp Exhibit at the Galleria Arte Moderna, which was a bit light on works so kind of a dud, IMHO. The space was cool to see, though)

We also enjoyed the Keats-Shelley house.
jmct714 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 03:10 PM
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We took a 4 hour guided food trip through the Testaccio district in Rome in May and it was the highlight of our week long trip. I wished we'd taken it on the first day, not towards the end - it would have saved us from eating some really bad food in Rome.
ThulaMama is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 06:46 PM
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Palazzo Valentini: this was one of the coolest things I've ever done in Rome and I've done just about everything listed above. This excavated underground Roman Villa features an overlaid slide show that recreates what the place originally looked, and gives a lot of information about how a rich family lived in ancient Rome.


You don't have to leave the very center to see this.

Have you been to the Terme de Caracalla? I've been twice and would go again. On a nice day, it is one of the most beautiful places in Rome.

I also enjoyed Trajan's Market a lot, especially the entry museum, which is small but spectacular. Again, it's right there, but not on the very beaten track.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Nov 16th, 2013, 07:51 PM
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And agree with others that seeing temporary exhibits is great fun. They are sometimes less crowded than the major sights and thus offer a more relaxed way to take in what Rome has to offer.
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2013, 11:26 PM
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Thanks to the OP and everyone who replied. I really appreciate the list and it's very well timed for us. We will be in Rome for three weeks and are looking forward to seeing some of the sites above. I really enjoyed the Protestant Cemtery and the surrounding neighborhood mentioned above, in addition to Romanitc poets you can also visit the grave of Antonio Gramsci which we were fascinated to stumble upon.

Not sure if it's off the beaten track but we also enjoyed an English walking tour around the Ghetto organized through the Museum at the Synagogue which I highly recommend, it was fascinating and covered the experience of the jewish community in Rome. The synagogue is also worth visiting.

Thanks for the information on the art exhibits, I was interested to hear they were fairly quiet as I found exactly tho opposite in paris where the temporary exhibits tended to be packed to capacity. The Dali exhibit at the Pomipdou was horrendous, I went three times and people were 3 to four deep around the pictures.

bilboburgler we were in Damascas 18 months ago so it's nice to know there's another head of John the Baptist to visit, there's a miracle for us all!

Glad to read people enjoyed the Keats Shelley house, I think I'll have to put it back on the list. I've always given the place a miss because of the proximity to the Spanish Steps but it sounds like I was too fast to dismiss it after all.
Thula Mama - I'm curious who did you do the food tour with?
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Nov 17th, 2013, 04:03 AM
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Santa Croce and the mausoleum of Constanza are very interesting and easy to reach by bus.
Saraho is online now  
Nov 17th, 2013, 05:00 AM
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What a great thread! Bookmarking for my next trip!
Dee_Dee is offline  
Nov 17th, 2013, 06:44 AM
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A wine tasting at Vino Roma. I did a Sparkling wine tasting when I was in Rome in Sept. I would not hesitate to do another one.

johnnyomalley is offline  
Nov 17th, 2013, 10:59 AM
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Even if you've visited the Vatican, a tour of the Vatican Gardens definitely qualifies as off the beaten track. The gardens are beautiful and the glimpse behind the scenes is fascinating


Absolutely second the recommendation for Eataly.....we had a great half day there. Also because we love markets we visited Mercato Trionfale (near the Vatican) last January. A rather perfunctory building but great wares!

Elizabeth_S is offline  
Nov 17th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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welltraveledbrit, some of the temporary exhibits have been quiet in my experience--definitely not all. And of course I'm comparing them to crowded sights the Vatican. Fair warning.

Agree with you about the Dali at Pompidou. I was there last December and the line was horrendous.

Have fun in Rome.
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 17th, 2013, 04:09 PM
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Lukehead, tourists looking for the tomb of Henry the Eighth's first wife may be disappointed to find the remains of St. Catherine of Siena in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, not Catherine of Aragon.

It is an interesting church, one if the rare Gothic style buildings in Rome.
kayd is offline  
Nov 17th, 2013, 06:54 PM
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We saw a Doisneau exhibit in Rome last year, and although it was well attended, one could easily stand in front of each photograph.

We went to another exhibit that was so under attended that the management was so happy to see us that they gave us a catalog.

However, we went to a Caravaggio exhibit in Rome a couple of years ago and were nearly trampled and squished. Timed tickets and all.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  

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