Off-The-Beaten-Track Things To Do in Rome

Rome is an incredible place to visit and the first time you go there, chances are you’ll spend most of your trip visiting the city’s major attractions, such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican. But Rome is too beautiful to visit only once and there are only so many times you can toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and make a wish. So what are you meant to do in the city after you’ve exhausted all of the most famous landmarks?

Here are a few off the beaten track attractions in Rome that I’ve discovered during my visits there. They aren’t all as impressive as the view you’ll get from the top of Saint Peter’s Basilica, but they’re definitely worth a look in after you’ve done all the biggies.

Off the Beaten Track Attractions in Rome: One of the scenes made entirely from skeletons inside the Capuchin Crypt, Rome
One of the scenes made entirely from skeletons inside the Capuchin Crypt, Rome: Photo – JvL – / CC 2.0

Off the Beaten Track Attractions in Rome

Capuchin Crypt

This has got to be one of the best value-for-money, off the beaten track attractions in Rome. For a small donation of just €1 to the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, you can enter the crypt and stare in silenced awe at the skeletal remains of around 3,700 bodies of Capuchin friars. The display is not intended to be macabre in the slightest, but instead symbolises the fragility of life and our own mortality. The skeletons aren’t just laid side-by-side – the bones have been used to create all sorts of incredibly impressive pieces of art, from rib cages used as lampshades to skulls used as door frames.

Off the Beaten Track Attractions in Rome: Gaping-mouthed monster door at Palazzo Zuccari
Gaping-mouthed monster door at Palazzo Zuccari

Monster Door

If you ever find yourself near the Spanish steps in Rome, wander off down Via Gregoriana and hunt out the Monster Door. This unofficially named door is pretty much impossible to miss and was built by two baroque brother painters – Taddeo Zuccari and Frederico Zuccari – who used to live in the building the door guards. In 1592 they had their palazzo decked out in several gaping monstrous mouths instead of traditional window and doorframes – simply because they could. Apart from that, there isn’t really any history behind the doors, but they make fantastic photo backdrops.

Off the Beaten Track Attractions in Rome: View of Saint Peter's Basilica through the magic keyhole
View of Saint Peter’s Basilica through the magic keyhole: Photo bored-now / CC 2.0

Keyhole View of the Vatican

If you thought seeing the Vatican up-close was amazing, just wait until you admire the view from Aventine Hill. Once you reach this elevated spot, you need to hunt out a very old door which leads to the gardens. But don’t go through the door – instead, bend down and peek through the magic keyhole. When you do, you’ll be treated to a stunning view of Saint Peter’s Basilica. This image is a lot more difficult to capture than the Monster Door, but it’s still worth a shot!

Feeling inspired and want to take a trip to Rome yourself? Accommodation in Rome is very cheap to snap up at this time of year. If a week in Rome isn’t exciting enough for you, consider booking a Mediterranean cruise which departs from Rome. You can always add a couple of nights at a hotel onto the beginning or end of your cruise to give you a little extra time explore the city.

About Nicola Quinn


Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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