Stunning architecture and top shopping opportunities are magnets for travellers eager to discover the charm of Rome. With so many world-famous attractions to view, from the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps to the Coliseum, it is not hard to see why many visitors stick to the classic choices. However, those who have more time or are looking to discover a hidden side to Rome should read our guide to some unique things to see and do in the city. Step off the beaten track and you will discover a new side to the Eternal City. From secret gardens to ancient Egyptian monuments, here are some unusual things to do in Rome.
Take in the sights
Rome is best seen on foot, so walk around the city as much as possible. Make a detour to the Gianicolo hill and listen out for cannon shots at midday; a cannon has been fired here every day at noon since 1847, when Pope Pius IX wanted to set a standard time for all the church bells in the city. The views from the hill are truly impressive.
Smell the roses at Roseto Comunale
While Rome is feted for its architecture, those seeking the city’s greener side should pay a visit to the Roseto Comunale, a garden at the foot of the Aventino hill with an exquisite collection of roses. The scents and colours of the flowers, set against the background of the Palatine ruins, make this a perfect spot to find a moment’s peace in this bustling city; wander the pathways and pause on the benches to enjoy the flowers. Heart-shaped trellises also make it a wonderfully romantic location. The rose gardens are open during the flowering season, usually May and June.
Shop for unique gifts off the beaten track
While Rome’s Via del Corso and Via dei Condotti are filled with designer shops and international flagships, they can also be very crowded. Those wishing to explore Rome at a more leisurely pace should make a beeline for Via del Boschetto in the Monti district, which is famous for its artisans and ateliers. This area is perfect if you are seeking unusual souvenirs. Kokoro is a great place to shop for unique fashion buys, as its pieces are entirely handcrafted; for unique jewellery, visit the Eliodoro store.
Track down the remains of ancient Egypt
The Roman conquest of Sicily in 241BC gave the empire a central Mediterranean base from which it first made contact with Egypt. The Egyptian empire became influential among the Romans, and Egyptian gods were included in the Roman pantheon. Thirteen ancient obelisks remain around the the city of Rome: why not see if you can locate them all?
Visit the Queen of Roads
The Romans are famous for their robustly constructed roads, the routes of many of which survive all over the world, so why not pay a visit to one of the most famous of them all? Construction of the iconic Via Appia Antica began in 312 BC and around 16 kilometres of this ancient road now run through a 3,500-hectare park, the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antixa, which also includes various natural and archaeological sights. The road is closed to traffic on a Sunday, which makes this an ideal day for strolling, cycling or having a picnic.