You probably do not need an introduction to some of the main attractions in Rome like the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum. However, there are some lesser-known neighborhoods and attractions in Rome that are just dying to be discovered. Get away from all the crowds and explore some of the Roman sights that usually only the locals know about.
If you want to get away from all the historical glamour, travel down to Quartiere Coppedè for a little while, it is located just a bit northeast of Villa Borghese. This relatively small district was designed in the 1920s. There is a complete hodgepodge of graceful palm trees, arches, gargoyles, towers, and turreted villas.
Chiesa di Santa Prassede
This church may be easy to miss, but it is breathtaking if you manage to find your way there. It is located near the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, based off a quiet side street where most tourists might not otherwise venture. Even though it does not look like anything too special when you stand outside, you can see some of the most breathtaking Byzantine mosaics once you venture inside.
Even though the 9th century apse designs are stunning, the Cappella di San Zenone offers breathtaking sights. There is also a part of the column in the chapel which supposedly had Christ tied to it before the crucifixion.
The EUR district
The EUR district is located in the far south of Rome, and feels like an entirely different world altogether. It is vociferously modernistic and spacious, two things that Rome will never be accused of being. The name of the district is based on an abbreviation for Esposizione Universale di Roma – because it was built for an international exhibition in 1942. Known locally as the Square Colosseum, the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro is one of the highlights of the district. It is a true example of Italian rationalism.
Chiesa di Santo Stefano Rotondo
Few people travel towards this 5th century church, but those who do take time for a visit will rarely forget their stay. It is located near Villa Celimontana, hidden in its own secluded grounds. With a round, columned interior and porticoed façade, you will be impressed the first time that you set foot inside of the church itself. Finally, the wall décor is the true highlight here. The wall depicts many of the gruesome atrocities that many early Christian martyrs suffered.
Cimitero Acattolico and Testaccio
Even though the Testaccio district is always bustling with life, you can get some peace and quiet here rather quickly. The Cimitero Acattolico is overlooked by an ancient pyramid, which really helps as a landmark. A few of the 4000 people that are buried here include Italian political thinker Antonio Gramsci and English poets John Keats and Percy Shelley.
Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia
With all the attention that some of the museums in Rome receive, it should come as no surprise to anyone that some truly spectacular museums receive less attention than they deserve. One of the examples of this is the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia. It is home to an amazing collection of Etruscan treasures and is housed in an elegant Renaissance villa.
By learning more about the Etruscans, it is possible to find out a bit more about the people who ruled central Italy before the Romans ever settled. A few of the must-see exhibits include the terracotta Apollo di Veio and the Sarcophagus of the Betrothed (the Sarcofago degli Sposi).
Move over Hollywood, because the film studios at Cinecittà are filled with movie history. The huge lots here have been home to more than 3,000 different movies, including Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, La Dolce Vita, and Ben Hur. Some of the exhibitions show a few of the famous directors and actors that have worked here.
Basilica di San Clemente
This beautiful church is minutes from the Colosseum, but does not receive a great deal of traffic. The beautiful mosaic in the apse is both colorful and rich, with some beautiful animal details. Even though the church is beautiful in its own right, the reason that most people visit the church lies underground.
There are three levels of preserved history, one atop of the other. There is an older church underneath the Basilica di San Clemente (which itself began construction in 1108). This ancient place of worship was mentioned by St. Jerome as early as 392. Because the Normans destroyed it, another church was built atop of it.
Below that, on the third level, you can find an assortment of small rooms and a narrow alleyway. Perhaps the most interesting section here is the Mithraeum, which features a Mithraic altar and characteristic stone benches.
Baths of Caracalla
Even though the baths are gone, the remains are still there. These are only a short walk from Circus Maximus. Even though you are in the heart of a major city, the baths are located in a peaceful location. It is possible to picture the original state of the baths thanks to some of the black and white mosaics that are still in place.