Looking for hidden gems in Rome? Rome is a city that is overflowing with cultural treasures and hidden secrets. When visiting a big city like Rome, it can be challenging to break away from the tourist sites and famous landmarks, especially if it’s your first time there. We will help you discover a secret Rome with 10 unusual and hidden places to explore in a one-day itinerary with a private guide.
As the first stop on our secret Rome journey, we recommend heading to Villa Doria Pamphili park, where you’ll find a monumental staircase leading to Villino Algardi. Descend the staircase and head to your right to reach the Pamphili Chapel, a truly unique Gothic gem that deserves better preservation along with the entire area.
Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
After walking through the aforementioned park, make your way to Gianicolo and follow the signs to the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. Take a moment to admire this masterpiece commissioned by Pope Paul V, and then turn around to enjoy the panoramic view of the eternal city!
A few steps away from the fountain, you’ll find the Church of San Pietro in Montorio, where you can see the Tempietto del Bramante. It wouldn’t be a true secret Rome itinerary if you didn’t peek through the gate that “hides” our little temple! This architectural gem has been an inspiration for many artists throughout Italy!
Bamboo Avenue at the Botanical Garden
Inside the Botanical Garden there is a stunning bamboo avenue reminiscent of the bamboo forests in Japan—a little secret Japanese corner not to be missed in Rome! Along the way, you’ll also find a charming garden with small bridges, bonsai trees, and water flowing through streams, allowing you to immerse yourself completely in the Japanese atmosphere.
A piece of history that should not be underestimated and that we should all be aware of is the Jewish quarter in Rome. To visit it, we recommend starting from Isola Tiberina and walking through the ghetto. The entire neighborhood is rich in history, which you can explore by visiting the Jewish Museum, the synagogue, the “Casina dei Vallati,” and the temples of Apollo. We also recommend strolling through the streets of the ghetto to discover unique shops and restaurants!
Continuing our day trip through secret Rome, we stay in the city center, where the Galleria Sciarra hides among Renaissance palaces. This gallery stands out from the others because it was built in the Liberty style (Italian variant for Art Nouveau). As soon as you enter through one of the two entrances, you’ll be struck by the skill of the artist Giuseppe Cellini, who frescoed all the walls of the building!
Let’s venture a little further from the center and reach the Casina delle Civette by taking bus 62, which will take you to Villa Torlonia park. We recommend walking through part of the park and relaxing under the shade of the many trees before visiting the “casina.” The name “casina delle civette” derives from the recurring decorative elements depicting owls (civette in Italian). If you only want to admire the casina from the outside, you don’t need a ticket, and rest assured, it will still amaze you with its mix of styles and colorful stained glass!
Are you still craving unusual architecture after visiting the Casina delle Civette? Don’t worry because Rome has an entire neighborhood filled with unique buildings. We’re talking about the Coppedè District, which you can reach by taking tram 3. It’s not exactly a neighborhood per se but rather an area conceived by the architect Gino Coppedè, from whom it takes its name. The most peculiar buildings are located between Via Tagliamento, Via Arno, Via Serchio, and Via Clitunno. If you’re short on time, we recommend passing under the arch of the Palazzi, reaching the Fontana delle Rane, and marveling at the quirky architecture of the Villini delle Fate and Palazzo del Ragno.
Continuing our itinerary through secret Rome, we arrive at a residential street that you won’t be able to enter but can photograph from the gate—the Piccola Londra! If you love the London-style neighborhood of Notting Hill, you can’t miss this hidden and unusual corner. You can reach this truly secret and offbeat alley from Piazza del Popolo by taking tram 2 and then walking a short distance. Additionally, we recommend approaching it from Viale della Vignola to capture the colorful palaces at their best.
Sacro Cuore del Suffragio Church
As the final stop on our journey through secret Rome, we take you to this small Gothic church that will make you feel like you’re in a French neighborhood! Its facade literally embodies the Neo-Gothic style, reminiscent of the grand French cathedrals and distinct from the style of all the other churches in the city. The interior is equally impressive, with its large stained-glass windows and colorful altar pieces adorning the nave. Don’t overlook the surrounding context either: behind you lies the Tiber River, not far away is Castel Sant’Angelo, and you can catch a glimpse of the long avenue leading to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Rome is undeniably the Eternal City, and you can never stop discovering it. These unusual and hidden gems in Rome serve as a testament to the secret side of the city. So, venture off the beaten path, explore these hidden gems, and let the secret Rome reveal its wonders to you!