So you’ve climbed the Spanish Steps, tossed a coin in the Trevi fountain and been herded into the Sistine Chapel; now what? Rome hides over 10,000 years of secrets. Book a room at the Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel, get on that plane, and explore some of these hidden Roman gems:
Rome is a city that blends old with new. Discover this contrast in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, Rome’s avant-garde university district. Packed with youthful creativity from the area’s large student population, you’ll find entire walls of tasteful graffiti, vintage shops, galleries, artsy bars and cheap pizzerias. For the perfect antidote to all the city’s history, visit Museo di Urban Art di Roma, which specializes in street art, urban sculptures, and anything modern. Another place for unique art is the Dorothy Circus Gallery: an interactive exhibition of contemporary installations that combines influences from New York City and Alice in Wonderland.
A stark contrast between ancient architecture and modern-day industrialism was never so clear as in the Centrale Montemartini museum, which houses ancient sculptures in an abandoned power plant. For magical Art Nouveau, wander the Coppedè neighbourhood – home to architect Gino Copedè’s animal and fantasy-themed architecture, such as the “spider building” and the “frog fountain.” And for all you bibliophiles, there’s a fountain dedicated to you! Designed by Pietro Lombardi in 1927, The Fontana dei Libri is a hidden treasure, made up of stone books, in the Sant’ Eustachio quarter.
The Great Outdoors:
Some might need a whole Sunday to get through the massive Porta Portese Flea market. Set in the heart of Trastevere, its thousands of stalls are full of vintage finds, from Persian shawls and rare books to bikes, typewriters and 18th century paintings. You might need to buy a second suitcase. In the summertime, the Castello d’Angelo park hosts screenings at its outdoor cinema. For 5€ a ticket, it’s a great way to polish your Italian. For a refreshing escape from zipping vespas, venture away from the city center to Appia Antica: the first road ever paved in history. Starting with a tour of the Caracalla Baths, the Appian Way is 500 km long, and the first 16 km are surrounded by the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica nature reserve. You can also rent bikes for 1€ per hour.
When your stomach starts to growl on Sunday morning, head to Necci dal 1924 for brunch, a ‘60s-inspired bistro that boasts a tree-covered patio in the summertime and hipster Hoxton allure all year-round. When in the bohemian neighbourhood of Trastevere, order a dish of ravioli alla salvia and a carafe of wine at Casetta di Trastevere as you regain your strength under flowering dogwood trees in the quiet Piazza dè Renzi. To satisfy your sweet tooth, find Gelateria dell’Angeletto in the heart of trendy Cavour. This isn’t one of Rome’s historic gelaterias, but proof that younger generations of Romans still know how to make great gelato. For a place to try a bit of everything, visit Eataly – the largest food mall dedicated solely to the best of Italian cuisine. You can purchase fresh goods from its vendors, or enjoy a full meal at one of the various restaurants scattered throughout the glass dome building.
Start browsing hotels in Rome, and add these ideas to your list of hidden gems to visit in the Eternal City. You will never run out of things to do and see in this amazing historic city.
*This post is a part of the #HipmunkCityLove Project, in which I am a participating author. For suggestions of more hotels in Rome, check out one of my articles over at Hipmunk.