When we go travelling there is a common desire for something authentic and for experiences that help us enjoy places like a local.
It is a funny concept, to leave where we are local to pretend to be locals elsewhere but regardless, we’ve compiled this list of the awesome hidden gems around Rome.
Chiesa di Dio Padre Misericordioso
With such a rich ancient history, we often forget about the modern beauty of Rome. The Jubilee Church, as it is also known, is a Catholic church and community centre in Rome. However, it doesn’t look like many of the other churches across the city.
Built in 2000, the church was part of the celebrations marking the new Millennium. It is an extremely modern design, reflecting a ship with three sales and featuring large skylights that flood the interior with bright sunlight.
The incredible church was built by American architect Richard Meier, who is also known for his work on the nearby Ara Pacis.
The Ara Pacis Augustae, Altar of Augustan Peace, is one of the eldest altars in Rome. Commissioned in 13 BC the altar was dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace. It took four years to be completed and over hundreds of years was buried under 4 meters of dirt and silt.
In 1938 the Ara Pacis was excavated and rotated to the position in which you can see it today. The altar was used for blood sacrifices. Sacrifices and offerings of animals to Roman gods were incredibly common in Roman religion, and the Ara Pacis was built with open sides and roof to provide a space for such practices. Surrounding the altar were many other significant Augustan monuments.
But how does this relate to a modern architect? Well, in 2006 Richard Meier was commissioned to create a new building encasing the altar. As with all things as old as Ara Pacis, it needed to be protected from the elements.
You simply must see the Ara Pacis up close and personal to learn more about its history and the magnificent carvings on its outer walls.
Casina delle Civette
The House of Owls, or Casina delle Civette, is a whimsical house museum just outside of Rome. Located just off the tourist trail the Casina delle Civette looks as though it has been plucked right out of a fairy tale.
The structure was built in the 1800s to resemble a Swiss cabin, before undergoing renovations to resemble a medieval hamlet. The wonderful house has many owl and peacock motifs across the property, however, none are as beautiful as the stained glass windows scattered through the house.
This beautiful property has a treacherous history though, having once been the home of fascist leader Mussolini.
Inside the park found in Piazza Vittorio is a little door, Porta Alchemica. Though most tourists ignore it, or flat out do not know it is there!
Locals, however, are well aware of the magical door. Covered in symbols and inscriptions the door is a reminder of the secret world of 1600s alchemy. No one quite knows what the symbols mean but many believe that those who could understand them would be led to riches.
The portal is one of five commissioned but the only one still standing today. Local legend says an alchemist visited the estate the door was originally in and crafted a recipe to turn lead into gold. It took him some time but once he succeeded, he wrote the instructions on a piece of parchment before disappearing. The owner of the villa had the recipe etched into the door in the hopes someone would soon understand what it says.
The beautiful Palazzo Farnese is one of the most significant High Renaissance villas in Rome. Its stunning architecture is perfectly symmetrical, designed in the 16th century. The ceiling features the famous fresco The Loves of the Gods. The building is often ignored by tourists as it currently serves as the French embassy in Italy.
However, venture to the Palazzo Farnese at the right time and you’ll be treated to a tour of the beautiful grounds. Some of Italy’s greatest architects including Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porta worked on the building.
The Palazzo was once filled with stunning sculptures, today you can find them at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.
When you find yourself without anything to do in the early evening, it is the perfect time for an Aperitivo. These alcoholic drinks are used to whet your appetite before dinner. There are many beautiful bars and cafes to enjoy your aperitivo at.
Il Baretto is one of our favourites. Tucked away on the side of a hill this delightful spot is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet Italian evening. Sit outside with Aperol Spritz, surrounded by leafy trees and soft summer sounds. Il Baretto treats you to plenty of snacks to enjoy with your drink, and you might even be lucky enough to have some live entertainment.
Rome is filled with many beautiful and exciting hidden treasures. Spice up your Roman holiday with a peppering of sites off the beaten track. These magnificent areas are local favourites and they soon will be yours too!
If you visit any of these spots on your next Italy trip remember to tag us on Instagram, and if there are any spots you think we missed be sure to let us know!
Related article: How Long Did Rome Really Take to Build?