More of Romes Bests

Top 10 things you can do in Rome once you are done with the touristy ones

We continue our top of 10 lesser known attractions in Rome with some spectacular areas in the Eternal City.

7. Palazzo Venezia

The Palace is worth a visit both because of the fact that it was the building hosting the Embassy of the Republic of Venice from 1564 to 1797, when the Republic lost its independence, and because of the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia (open Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m, tickets are € 4,00), an interesting art gallery with paintings from late medieval and early Renaissance, including some work by Cimabue (13th century).

If you do decide on this lesser known attraction (although in a place of high preeminence, right next to the gigantic Il Vittoriano, dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy), do see the Church of San Marco, on the right side of the palace. The church is remarkable: one of the oldest in Rome, initially built in 336, the church has retained some of its original medieval atmosphere (including a mosaic dating back to the 9th century), despite extensive Baroque restorations in the 17th century.

6. The Celio

The Celio is one of the seven hills in Rome, but it is also filled with charming churches, many of these dating back to Early Medieval Times. Your tour on the Celio can start with a Church of San Clemente, although this is not actually on the hill, but rather a proper introduction for it. The church is interesting because the current structure, dating from the 12th century, has several layers of previous constructions, including a Temple of Mithras and an original church from the 4th century. The mosaics from Early Middle Ages combine well with Renaissance art from 15th century (chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria by Massaccio).

Next on your tour of the Celio would be the Church of the Four Crowned Saints, which you are likely to enjoy because its medieval atmosphere, nowhere clearer than in the cloisters and in the Chapel of St. Sylvester. In the latter, the entire process of entering to see some of the oldest frescos in Rome reminds of other times: you ring the doorbell to the chapel and receive a key to enter inside.

Two more medieval churches on your Celio visit: the Church of San Stefano Rotondo, the only round church in Rome, and the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, both very much worth seeing.

5. Campo dei Fiori

This is probably one of the less pretentious places in Rome in terms of culture and architecture, but it is majestic and filled with a historical awe. Translated as “the field of flowers” (mainly because this area was not paved until 1456), this is where Giordano Bruno, a philosopher who proposed innovative idea for his times, such as heliocentrism, was burnt at the stake in 1600 by the Inquisition. His statue dominates the market and some say that it faces the Vatican in a gesture of final victory. Besides the philosophical perspective, you can enjoy here the market on all weekdays.