By Jessica Russo
Let's be real - this is Rome. Of course you're gonna visit the biggies. But somewhere between the tourist-filled Colosseum and the crowded Trevi Fountain, be sure to find some time for leisurely exploration. Join the locals and discover a little peaceful magic at these hidden gems. We promise, they're as spectacular as they are secret.
Photo by Instagram user @lapostavecchiahotel
The Aventine Hill Keyhole
Calling all Instagrammers! This intriguing off-the-beaten-path find is one of our all-time favorites. The Knights of Malta keyhole offers a unique, perfectly framed view of Saint Peter's Basilica in a historic piazza on Aventine Hill.
Upon arrival, you'll see an ancient villa: the Villa del Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta. Sure it's pretty, but the real magic exists on the other side of it. Step up to the green door and peer through the tiny peephole. Your eye will trace its way along a perfect tree-lined pathway until you spot St. Peter's right smack in the center. After you catch your view and take your photos, stroll around the gorgeous surrounding gardens!
Photo by Instagram user @fabiocapuaniphotographer
It's bizarre, it's whimsical, it's magical, it's Coppedè. This fairy-tale district of Rome may be tiny in size, but it's huge in culture and beauty. Take a few hours to stroll through unique architecture, decorative fountains, and frescoed facades. Think: art Nouveau meets medieval tradition.
Photo by Instagram user @monumentoapp
Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo
Built on top of the remains of a second-century Mithraic temple, this stunning church was built in the fifth century - yes, fifth. While the architecture is stunning, the frescoes are... unique. Consider yourself squeamish? Look if you dare. Consider yourself a little twisted? You'll enjoy this one.
Spiraling around the circular walls of this amazing church, you'll find paintings depicting 34 martyrs - that is, depictions of them being violently killed. Think: boiled alive, molten lead poured down a throat... you get the gist. Yikes! Don't let that deter you - this place is fascinating.
Photo by Instagram user @ig_italia
Ahh, Rome's favorite neighborhood. Take a short walk across the Tiber and find a charming medieval hub of local culture and unbeatable cuisine. Formerly a working-class district, Trastevere boasts artsy cuteness and a vibrant nightlife scene. In Trastevere, you'll find authentic, family-run neighborhood restaurants filled with locals. Pull up a chair and enjoy delicious food - without tourist pricing.
Photo by Instagram user @marina.cleo
"Gianicolo" aka Janiculum Hill
Breathtaking views, here you come. Considered by many as the "eighth hill of Rome," this peaceful place offers postcard-worthy views of the central city. Stroll by magnificent marble monuments, beautiful churches, a flowing fountain, and even a lighthouse! Janiculum Hill is the spot for photo-ops, mesmerizing views, and a relaxing retreat from the city.
Photo by Instagram user @panoramitalia
Via Niccolò Piccolomini
See the dome of St. Peter's like never before. While this street offers a wonderful view from a unique perspective, it also offers a cool optical illusion! Walking along the road, keep your eye on the dome. The closer you get, the smaller and farther away it seems. If you take steps back, however, the dome appears to get larger and closer. This spot is magically fun and romantic.
Photo by Instagram user @ramona.a.stone
Antica Farmacia della Scala
Once a working pharmacy to the 17th-Century Papal Court, the Antica Farmacia Santa Maria della Scala is still run by Carmelite monks. While the main floor is a modern pharmacy, the building's second floor is a trip back in time. Take in the amazing decor, featuring marble walls, wooden furnishings, and beautiful murals.
Photo by Instagram user @clemens_dvorak
Savello Park aka "The Garden of Oranges"
Located on Aventine Hill, "The Orange Garden" offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Behind the Basilica of Santa Sabina near the Piazza Pietro d'Illiria, this terraced park is rich with lush greenery, vibrant roses, and yes - orange trees! Head to this park around sunset and watch Rome's most iconic landmarks become backlit in orangey-pink sun.