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Thread: Rome's secrets

  1. #1

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    So, we are starting to plan a return trip to Italy and will be spending part of the time back in Rome.

    I have seen the big tourist attractions and would now like to find some of the out of the way gems in the city. Please, those of you who know the city well, would you share a few of your favorite sights and restaurants?

    Thank You!

  2. #2

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    I love the view from the top of the Vittorio Emmanuele monument in Piazza Venezia. You can climb the steps to the top of the building, where you can get a cocktail at the very modern bar. Or, if you'd like to pay 7 euros, you can take the glass elevator even further up. The view is of ancient Roma in the direction of the Colosseo and the Palatino.

  3. #3

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    Originally posted by NanB:
    out of the way gems
    I spent quite a bit of time in the area around La Sapeinza (San Lorenzo) and really enjoyed it. This is an area that is low on monuments and 'attractions' but is full of interest, at least for me. Some hidden gems from this area:

    - Cimitero Monumentale del Verano; really wonderful cemetery; Via Tiburtina
    - Said Chocolate, Via Tiburtina 00185. Chocolate with black pepper
    - Da Franco ar Vicoletto; Via dei Falisci 1/b, San Lorenzo, seafood resto

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    Not knowing where you have visited and where you have not, I will tell you some of my favorites that are not amongst the must-sees for the first-time visitor.

    On my last visit to Rome, I went to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna and enjoyed it very much. I should point out that while there is what I would normally think of as "modern art", there are also works by Van Gogh, Monet, Canova, Cezanne, and others from the 19th century.

    I love the Galleria Doria Pamphilj and visit it each time I go to Rome. For some reason, I can't open the official website, but this link will give you an example of some of the paintings. It is in the palace of the Pamphilj family and the audio guide includes information about the Palace as well as the art.

    I also love the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele both for the views noted above, but also for the special exhibits they have. One year, there was an exhibit about Italy and the holocaust that was very informative and moving. I visited over several days because there was so much information. Last year, there was an excellent exhibit on the emigration of Italians to both the US and other foreign countries during the late 19th and early 20th century.

    I would also highly recommend National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia. The link is to tickets for the museum, but you can just purchase them when you arrive. It is a fantastic museum. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    If this is the type of thing you are looking for, I have more suggestions.

  5. #5
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    I loved the false-perspecitve colonnade in the Palazzo Spada.
    Trompe-l'oeuil is an art form that I have always been fond of. The colonnade perspective is especially fun.
    See here.

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    It's hard to know what you have already enjoyed , but one of my favorites is Basilica di San Clemente. It is a major site but not one of THE major sites.

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    Thank you for your suggestions. I have added them to my 'favorites'. This will be my 3rd visit but I know there is so much more to see!

  8. #8


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    One of our favorite places is the Palazzo Massimo, near Termini. We especially love the frescos from the dining room of Livia, the wife of Augustus Caesar. Check out the Italian Notebook for more info.
    Chris Phillips
    il sogno a Casperia

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    The Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle; it's really beautiful inside, all blue and gold.
    I don't have my notes as I'm at work, but I think it's on the Via del Corso.
    I thought it was more lovely than St. Peter's.

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    - Il Chiostro del Bramante, on Via della Pace, within Santa Maria della Pace. Had there the most quiet and discreet coffee possible in the heavenly surroundings of the second level of the Chiostro.

    - Up the Gianicolo, the San Pietro in Montorio and, within its courtyard, Bramante's Tempietto.

    - Palazzo Spada, with its unique, seldom visited art collection and Borromini's trompe l'oeil.

  11. #11


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    I like Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine and the enclosed garden of orange trees just north of the church.
    Bill

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by JChrisP:
    One of our favorite places is the Palazzo Massimo, near Termini. We especially love the frescos from the dining room of Livia, the wife of Augustus Caesar. Check out the Italian Notebook for more info.
    Agreed!

  13. #13


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    Santa Maria in Trastevere - I just love this church, and the mosaics are amazing.

    San Francesco a Ripa - Bernini's Ecstacy here rivals the one at Santa Maria della Vittoria (which should also be seen, to compare) and you can get much closer to it.

    The two tiny churches on the Quirinale, San Carlino (San Carlo alle quattro fontane) and Sant'Andrea al Quirinale.

    Villa Farnesina - great architecture and frescos, and very few tourists (although I have run into a fair number of Italian school field trips here).

    Castel Sant'Angelo - it amazes me how many people seem to miss this gem.

    Ara Pacis.
    ellen

  14. #14

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    Good point, Ellen, I was going to mention Castel Sant'Angelo in my post but thought I was the only one who had neglected to visit when in Rome. I had been to Rome six times with stays of from 10 days to 30 days each time, until I finally visited Castel Sant'Angelo last year.

    I was particularly lucky because there was a special exhibit featuring various pieces of art that had been recovered by the Guardia di Finanzafrom various art museums and private collections throughout the world.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Castel Sant'Angelo including a wonderful view of St. Peter's Basilica from the top.

  15. #15


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    Two more options....I think Rome is basically inexhaustible in terms of attractions.

    The mosaics in the early Christian churches of Santa Prassede and Santa Pudenziana are remarkable....

    The Roman sculptures displayed in the former electric power plant in the Centro Montemartini museum .....a bit out of the center in the Ostiense district but easily reached by public transport.

    Jim Zurer

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    There is a nice little pocket-sized book called "City Secrets-Rome" that has all kinds of places recommended by artists, historians, architects, writers, etc.
    Charnee Smit: Italian in a previous life.

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    "City Secrets - Rome" is unfortunately between editions right now. I have seen that the prices for the first edition are quite high on Amazon. But worth searching out on maybe half.com or bookfinder.com, as it is a fabulous source of interesting places to explore.

    And the good news? A new and expanded edition is coming. The bad news? Not until April.

    Yrs, Robert

  18. #18
    Ah, how wonderful! As an expat living here, I can tell you Rome has *many* gems, and you will not be disappointed.

    Some of my favorite sites:

    First, I recommend checking out Rome's small churches. Many are absolute gems, filled with art and without a tourist in sight. Two of my favorites are the medieval basilica of Santo Quattro Coronati, on the Celian hill (stone's throw from the Colosseum), which boasts beautifully-preserved 13th-century frescoes, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Prassede, with 9th-century mosaics and just around the corner from Santa Maria Maggiore. A handful of tour companies also offer walking tours of Rome's best small churches, including Walks of Italy, which specializes in small (less than 12 people) tours for much lower prices than companies like Context.

    Second, I don't know when you are coming to Rome, but make sure to check out what events are going on in the city! I keep updated posts of what events are going on (here are some for the fall) on my insider's guide to Rome, <a href="http://www.revealedrome.com%5B/url%5D" target="_blank">www.revealedrome.com</a>. Here are some Rome events going on in the fall.

    Finally, eat like a local! This can be one of the most difficult -- but rewarding -- things for a tourist to do, and often means venturing off the beaten track to neighborhoods like Trastevere, San Lorenzo and Testaccio. Some of my suggestions: Il Pommidoro in San Lorenzo for Roman offal; Lo Scopettaro (although steer clear of their carbonara!) and Bucatino in Testaccio for traditional Roman food; Nuovo Mondo in Testaccio or Formula Uno in San Lorenzo for pizza; and Roma Sparita or Taverna Trilussa in Trastevere for excellent pastas.

    Whew! Hope that helps!

    Amanda

  19. #19

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    I vote for San Pietro in Vincoli which is overlooked by many tourists. With regard to dining, oftentimes inexpensive locals can be just as rewarding.

  20. #20
    I agree with AER about checking out Rome's small churches. You can find some fantastic art treasures. For example, San Maria Della Vittoria is the home of Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Tereesa:


  21. #21
    Beautiful photograph!!! And I agree, Santa Maria della Vittoria is definitely well worth checking out.

  22. #22

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    What a great thread. I got a smile on my face reading each post and agree with all of them as special places in Rome.

    Jane beat me to San Clemente, which is a time capsule back through the centuries to the Mithraic temple at the lowest level.

    So I'll add Sant'Ignazio. If you're near the Pantheon, drop in to see Andrea Pozzo's ceiling frescoes, especially the tromp l'oeil dome. (A "dome" from the angle below, but stand right under it, and you'll see it was painted on a flat surface.)


  23. #23
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    San Clemente, which is a time capsule back through the centuries to the Mithraic temple at the lowest level
    I loved it too, but didn't know it was a secret.

  24. #24

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    Also, if you haven't yet been on the Scavi tour at the Vatican, that's another gem that should be high on your list.

    See the Vatican website here.

    Inquire about reservations by e-mail: scavi@fsp.va

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