For the average traveler, vacation in the eternal city means hitting some of the most well-known historical spots around. While places like the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Piazza di Spagna offer a wonderful historical perspective, it is sometimes better to truly absorb yourself in the culture that only locals know about. This guide will help you “do as the Romans do” on every step of your extended stay in Rome.
The explore the best of Rome’s hidden gems, the top 4 places you should visit are the Rome Observatory, the Gardens of the Villa Borghese, Giardino degli Arancia, and the Castel Sant’Angelo.
If you’re trying to avoid some of the more common tourist areas, follow this guide to explore some of Rome’s best hidden haunts. At the end of this article, we’ll even tell you how to get there!
During the Day
Your first stop on our guide to a true Roman’s day around town begins just a few minutes away from the Vatican. Instead of waiting in line on Via Vaticano on a beautiful day, why not head to the Rome Observatory for a hike and some views of the city? The Observatory is a great spot to explore on a walk with friends, family, or solo. You can take a guided audio tour inside or explore by yourself – the sky is (literally) the limit!
Next, you can head to the Gardens of the Villa Borghese. Located north of the Trevi neighborhood, these gardens surround both the Villa Borghese and the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. The gardens make up roughly 198 acres, and visitors can barely walk two steps without seeing something absolutely breathtaking. Walk around the main lagoon for a few minutes and people watch, or simply sit on a bench and observe the passers-by for hours.
Instead of a night watching the sunset at Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps), stop by the Giardino degli Arancia. Blocks away from Circo Massimo, this spot is perfect for a romantic picnic or an afternoon spent reading in solitude. The views from this spot overlook some of Rome’s breathtaking views, and you can often find young Romans here on any average night spending time with friends.
After watching the sunset at Giardino degli Arancia, head over and cross the river towards Castel Sant’Angelo. At night, the castle is illuminated, and its serene nighttime views of the Tiber River are the perfect conclusion to any local’s day in Rome.
Even though this guide didn’t take you through the most popular tourist attractions, they are still all around this historic city. If you want to visit any of Rome’s classic architectural and historical sites in between local stops, check out the Roma Pass, a 48- or 72-hour unlimited historical site and public transportation pass. Even if you only visit a few of these sites on your trip to Rome, the free and unlimited access to public transportation basically pays for itself.
After you are done exploring some of Rome’s best venues for locals, do not hesitate to check out some of the main tourist attractions! The Roma Pass allows visitors to visit as many of the historical sites as they want during the 48- and 72-hour periods, as long as they are included in the Roma Pass list. These include Circo Massimo, Musei Capitoline, the Colosseum, and many more. Buone vacanze!
By Cecelia Adams