From pizza’s to piazzas and cappuccino e cornetto’s to the Colosseum, there’s just something quintessentially special about Rome. Whether it’s your first time visiting the ‘Eternal City’ or your hundredth, the beauty and magnificence of Rome that unveils before your eyes as you wander down one of many hidden Roman streets, has the ability to leave you feeling breathless, dominated and enchanted all at the same time.
While there are a number of “musts” that can’t be avoided – a stroll through the Fori Imperiali, pausing for a photo outside the Colosseum and climbing the famous Piazza di Spagna steps – there are still a number of lesser known hidden gems in Rome, waiting to be discovered for those willing to venture off the beaten path.
If you’re planning a trip to Rome, and are ready to explore beyond the big-ticket items and experience the city as a local, these are the Roman travel tips you need.
1. Quartiere Coppedè
Blink and you could miss this. Located in the city’s northeast Trieste neighbourhood is the early 1900’s enclave, Quartiere Coppedè; one of Rome’s best hidden gems. At the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento, down a hidden Roman street, this fairytale-like district (the smallest district in the city) can be identified by its whimsical architecture by Florentine architect Gino Coppedè.
The rustic craftsman-style houses and buildings are all decorated with marble and metal ornaments, adorned with beautiful modern frescoes and intricate patterns.
While the neighbourhood isn’t large, Quartiere Coppedè is one of those secret hidden gems in Rome that is completely off the beaten path – an essential thing to do in Rome.
2. Aventine Hill
Offering a calm respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre is Aventine Hill, the southernmost of the Seven Hills of Rome, and one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Steeped in ancient Roman history, there’s a list-long worth of bucket list items that you can tick off during a visit to this hidden gem in Rome.
Relax amongst the aromas of fresh, sweet-smelling oranges at the Giardino degli Aranci (the Garden of Oranges) – a small public garden that acts as an oasis of peace as you enjoy panoramic views of the city below.
Wander up the hidden Roman street, Via di Santa Sabina, where you’ll find the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, a quiet square that is frequented by locals and visitors alike who stand outside the green door, peering through a small keyhole to witness the beautiful view of Saint Peter’s Basilica, which is perfectly framed by clipped cypress trees.
Roman Travel Tip: Plan to visit Aventine Hill earlier in the day. While entry to the park is free of charge, it does close at sunset.
3. Via del Governo Vecchio
If you fancy a nice stroll down a peaceful, hidden Roman street, Via del Governo Vecchio is your answer.
Home to a rather romantic atmosphere, Via del Governo Vecchio is the perfect Roman street for a relaxed breakfast, pizza dinner, or a mean vintage shopping session; this small town boulevard-esque street is lined with several vintage and second-hand shops, cute boutiques and plenty of cafes and restaurants.
RELATED CONTENT: Italy’s free wine fountain, and other bizarre Italian facts
4. Via Margutta
Just off of the main street, down a hidden Roman street between Piazza di Spagna’s Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo is the beautiful, ivy-covered Via Margutta.
This Roman street has a bit of an interesting history, whereby it was originally home to numerous stables and workshops. However, following the premiere of ‘Roman Holiday’ starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in 1953, the street became instantly famous as it was the street that Peck’s character, Joe Bradley lived on in the film.
Following the success of the film, a lot of famous people moved to Via Margutta during the 1960’s and 70’s, quickly making the street a rather exclusive and expensive area to live in Rome.
Today, Via Margutta is still home to some of Rome’s wealthiest people, but is also where you can go to find numerous art galleries, designer shops and high-end restaurants.
5. Appian Way
Ever wondered where the saying ‘all roads lead to Rome’ came from? We’re not 100% certain, but we think that Appian Way has got to have something to do with it!
Dating from 312 – 264BC, Appian Way was the first and most strategic Roman street. Originally used for military transportation, this road also led the way to many conquests for the Roman Empire.
Nowadays, Appian Way is still worth visiting; afterall, how many things can stand the test of time for over thousands of years?!
Depending on how much time you have, you can explore Appian Way with a nice stroll, on horseback or on an e-bike tour. Or, if you’ve got access to a car, you can drive along the historic road (much of the road has been restored, so vehicles can use it).
One of our favourite Roman travel tips that we give to travellers is to make the trek out to Gianicolo, or Janiculum Hill. Hidden in plain sight, this Roman gem is often overlooked by the guidebooks. Which seems crazy to us, as the 8th hill of Rome, which is located south of Vatican City, offers some of the best views of the city of Rome!
Surprisingly quiet, Gianicolo is a nice reprieve from the bustling city. Easily reached by foot, you can explore the hill at a slow meander, or alternatively, hire a bike from the city below and live out your own ‘Roman Holiday’.
RELATED CONTENT: 7 hidden gems in Rome most tourists never see
7. Isola Tiberina
Did you know that there’s an island in the middle of Rome, just a 20-minute walk from the Colosseum? Isola Tiberina is another Roman gem, hidden in plain sight. Nonetheless, it is still worth venturing to!
Despite being one of the smallest inhabited islands in the world (Isola Tiberina is roughly the size of three football fields), there’s plenty to keep you busy here! Visit the 10th-century Basilica di San Bartolomeo, where you can see relics from Catholic martyrs that were chewed up by lions in the Colosseum; dine in the island’s only restaurant, or marvel at the 400-year-old hospital that is still operating today!
For such a small area, Isola Tiberina offers visitors with many things to do in Rome.
8. Piccola Londra
For colourful homes, reminiscent of Notting Hill, one must visit the Roman street of Via Celentano, or Piccola Londra (Little London) as the locals refer to it.
Just a couple of trams stops north of Piazza del Popolo, and at the corner of Via del Vignola and Via Flaminia is this quirky hidden Roman street.
A small, charming residential street, with no car access, Piccola Londra was first developed in 1909 as part of a plan to have Rome become a modern European capital. The very un-Roman-esque single row houses were designed by architect Quadrio Pirani. However, the design never developed beyond this one street, but it does still remain a perfect ‘Little London’ tucked away in Bella Roma.
Just south of the city centre lies this hidden gem in Rome. Perhaps the city’s best secret neighbourhood, Ostiense oozes cool.
Over the past couple of years, lots of improvements have been made in the area, where old abandoned buildings have been renovated into coffee shops, art galleries and wine bars. To add to the efforts made to bring life to the area, local artists have also used the former empty streets as a blank canvas and have painted the district with numerous colourful murals and street art.
Even though its location isn’t far from the city centre, Ostiense is a quiet neighbourhood that is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.
RELATED CONTENT: Essential items to pack when travelling to Italy during the summer
A short 15-minute drive southwest of the city centre is the well-known, but barely visited EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) neighbourhood.
Originally named E42, the area was designed in the late 1930’s by architect Marcello Piacentini for the 1942 World Exposition. However, due to World War II, the exposition never happened.
Located on the edge of Rome’s historical centre, EUR offers a snapshot of a what-could-of-been kind of Rome (the district was intended to showcase the ‘new Italy’), and is well worth venturing off the beaten path for. With its monumental travertine buildings, palaces and Rationalist architecture piazzas, there are many photo opportunities here, just waiting to be discovered.
Rome Travel Tip:
If you’ve got ‘discover hidden gems in Rome’ on your bucket list, be sure to check out Trafalgar’s Best of Italy tour. On this tour, you’ll get to explore the Eternal City with a Local Specialist who will uncover the history and stories behind the city’s most important icons. Of course, ‘when in Rome’, it goes without saying, pizza is a must – be sure to participate in the optional ‘Piazzas and Fountains of Rome’ experience, where you’ll discover the narrow hidden Roman streets outlined in this blog, as well as the countless beautiful squares within the historic centre.