Rome can feel like a very touristy place if you stick to the tourist highlights. Everybody knows Rome is huge and has a lot more to offer. But how to find the spots where can you escape the tourists? That’s what we’re here for! In this article we picked some of the most unique, local gems in Rome, discovered by our very own team of Spotters.
A peaceful cloister in a chaotic center
“Just round the corner from Piazza Navona, there is a cloister designed by Donato Bramante. Here, even though it is located in the center of the city, you will get a sense of being far away from the city.
There is no need to enter the museum. Skip the line and close to the entrance you will see a passage that will lead you to a quiet and beautiful little garden. It’s a hidden place and one of the best places to get a bit of peace in the center of Rome.
When you visit the place, you will have the opportunity to visit the lake which lies hidden inside the Palazzo della Cancelleria. “The colour of the water is mesmerizing, but in my opinion the best feature of this spot is simply being there, hidden underneath one of the busiest squares in Rome. It creates such a weird, parallel dimension to step into!” according to our Spotter Giulia.
A bar which is also a piece of history
Bar Rosi is not just a place to drink, it is a place frozen in time. It is frozen in time in almost the literal sense. The furniture and the dishes that are used to serve food and drink are antique. “I recommend this place because it’s a unique jump into the past of Rome.” says our Spotter Rudy.
Cheap wine and a friendly welcome
“When I go for a drink at La Fraschetta, I know I stand out” writes our Spotter Alexandra. Sandro doesn’t get many customers who aren’t Italian men in their fifties, or older. It’s a neighbourhood hang-out for lots of the locals, including some interesting creative types, who come here for the company and the absurdly cheap wine. Just a couple of euros for a glass of local wine, filled to the brim. Indulge in a sandwich or selection of cheese and cold cuts and you’ll still get change from a €10 note.
Street art by local artists
The next gem is located in a small residential area, called Sanba, where the local residents of the area are involved in creating the artworks in their street. The street is a part of a project that aims to breathe new life into the city.
Our street art loving Spotter Giulia’s favorite intervention covers six different facades overlooking Giulietto Minna Park: a work by the street artist Hitnes. “Hitnes’ work is highly surrealist, almost dreamlike, and depicts six different animals as if they were the guardians of the neighborhood.”
Enjoy Gregorian chants in a hidden monastery
Every Sunday at 19:15 the Benedictine monks living in the adjoining monastery of Sant’Anselmo enter the church in a seemingly endless line – at least 60 of them – and perform half an hour of Gregorian chant. When you listen to the monks in Sant’Anselmo it certainly feels like you’re being transported back in time. “It’s a solemn but peaceful ritual which tends to put me in an almost meditative state.” writes Alexandra.
Have a perfect Roman porchetta
La Fraschetta di Castel Sant’Angelo is a traditional Roman trattoria, selling all the usual fare – including Carbonara, Amatriciana and Saltimbocca. The Porchetta – a traditional Italian roast pork dish flavoured with garlic and herbs – is absolutely perfect here.
Military fort turned self-managed cultural center
“I don’t even know where to start about this place” writes Spotter Matteo. The CSAO Forte Prenestino is a military fortress, built in the 19th century, but due to a complete lack of use it was abandoned quite quickly, left to decay. In 1986 it was occupied by a group of left-wing students, who turned it into a “centro sociale occupato autogestito”(self-managed occupied social center). They organize many festivals and activities all the time.
The best place to find Roman antiques
Conca d’Oro antique is not a very old antique flea market. However, this does not mean that there will not be some worthwhile antiques. Visiting this flea market is like playing a treasure hunt game with friends.
“Truth be told, I rarely bring anything back home, but I do love to wander around its colorful stalls, grabbing some street food on the go at the delicious stands selling regional food.” writes Giulia.
A one of a kind burger place
This gem is for the foodies. The place serves homemade vegan burgers which are not just delicious but also photogenic. The dishes served at Flower Burger are unique and worth giving a try. This place is not just for the vegans. The burgers are so delicious that the non-vegans will enjoy it too.
“I still have to choose which one my favorite is, so I keep going there to make a decision! Sometimes they also add to the menu some special edition burger… to make it even more difficult!” writes Spotter Daniela.
A hidden, underground live music space
Since the Trenta Formiche opened up in 2011 it’s always attracted a very inhomogeneous crowd, enjoying an equally variegated line-up of musicians. Though there’s definitely a slight tendency towards Rock, with around three gigs a week, at the Trenta you’re always in for musical surprises.
Nevertheless it has quite a familiar and intimate atmosphere, which almost makes you feel at home… “a home where you get drunk and go mental on the dance floor.” writes Matteo.
The best of 7 hills for a sunset
Since Rome is built on 7 hills, there are a lot of spots where you can admire an unforgettable sunset. One of Daniela’s favorites is the Quirinale hill.
“I have a big collection of pictures taken from that spot but the best are those at sunset. The sun goes down just in front of you and close to San Peter’s church. You will see the skyline of Rome perfectly drawn by the sun. And if there are some clouds in the sky it’s even better.” writes Daniela.