Traveling to Italy is like stepping into another world, another era, a different lifestyle. Buildings are aged beyond their years and monuments are focal points of city piazzas. It is beautiful. It is break taking but it is swarmed with tourists. In Rome, my boyfriend and I found streets jam packed with overpriced restaurants, souvenir shops and people speaking every kind of language. We crave experiences enjoyed by locals but “secret” spots are being exploited by Internet how-to’s and blog posts, much like this one. Hence the use of the word “semi” in the title. Amongst the shoulder to shoulder crowds at The Vatican and the Trevi Fountain, we searched for local digs for food, dope views and other things we love to do in new cities. With the help of multiple Google searches and a close friend I have from Rome, we were able to accomplish most of what we set out to do. Although none of these stops were completely “off the radar”, we did manage to escape the loud buzzing of tourists to have some time to ourselves.
So now I’m sharing my list of 5 semi off the grid things to do in Rome!!!
5. Knights of Malta Keyhole
On top of the Aventine Hill, you’ll find a door with a few tourists hovering by. When you look through the door’s keyhole you will see St. Peter’s basilica framed by a beautiful garden path. This garden is home to the famous Knights of Malta. What drew us and other visitors to Rome, is that you’re actually looking at 3 nations at once- Italy, the Vatican and this ancient military order, The Kights of Malta.
4. Roman Forum & Palatine
When you go to Rome, you go the Colosseum- especially if you’re into the movie Gladiator. But directly across from these ruins and included in your ticket to the Colosseum are the Roman Forum and Palatine. Some will visit these first to skip long queues at the Colosseum, but the view you get from the other side is truly break-taking. You can take in the hugeness of the Colosseum, without being elbowed by tourists. And the ruins of the Roman Forum, which was once a political and social center in its time, are definitely not something you want to miss.
3. Castel Sant’Angelo
Much less crowded than other museums and sights, the Castel Sant’Angelo houses the old papal apartments that are really ornate and boast ceilings that compare to that of the Vatican Museum. We loved the view that you get from the top, where you can see St. Peters and appreciate the beautiful bridge connecting the fortress to land . Through many of the windows of the castle, you can see directly to the break taking basilica.
2. Monti District
If you let yourself wonder a bit after visiting the Colosseum, you’re likely to stumble across the Monti District. Named after one of Rome’s seven hills, it’s provides an escape from the tourist packed restaurants and houses some of the hippest and most eclectic local digs in the city. We enjoyed an evening stroll under a street with hanging vines, one of the scenes I remember most from our trip to be honest.
1. Orange Gardens
Most of these “secret” locations I found through a Google Search, and the orange gardens were no different. Before heading there, we grabbed some sandwiches and beers and climbed the Aventine Hill for the alleged views and some down time. (We visited the Keyhole right after the gardens, a perfect thing to pair together.) Dotted with couples, we were able to see some amazing panoramic views of the city that are usually hard to find. Although it’s a bit of a hike, this is a perfect place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
Have you found any off the grid things to do in Rome that weren’t on my list? Care to share? Drop us a line below! Make sure to hashtag your travel photos with #vgbtravels to join the squad! Happy traveling!