Rome is one of the most well-know, most heavily visited cities in the world. Every day tens of thousands of visitors squeeze through the Vatican, inside the Colosseum and around the Trevi Fountain. It can be overwhelming, particularly during the summer.
Rome is an enormous city with thousands of years of history, so there are many other, less popular and less crowded attractions worth seeking out. Here are some lesser known but equally interesting attractions to see on your next visit:
Underneath the very ground of Rome is another hidden city: miles of catacombs that once held the bones of thousands of early Christians. Over forty separate catacombs were carved out of bedrock between the 2nd and 4th centuries.Today many of the bones have been relocated but the tunnels are still stunning and slightly spooky architectural marvels. Only four of the catacombs are now open to the public and you'll need to arrange for an organized tour to go underground.
While San Clemente is a minor basilica compared to some of the massive Roman churches, it is beautiful and filled with historical and archeological significance. The current church was built in 1099, but visitors can descend a staircase to discover an earlier 4th century church, and underneath that a 2nd century shrine. It's a perfect representation of Rome's many-layered past.
A must visit for art and literature buffs, the Protestant Cemetery, sometimes known as the Englishman's Cemetery is the final resting place of many notable poets, painters and sculptors. Most famous are Percy Bysshe Shelley and his close friend John Keats, whose gravestone famously does not mention him by name. It's a beautiful cemetery and a perfect shady place to wander on a hot afternoon.
Fans of the movie Roman Holiday will easily recognize the Mouth of Truth. Located in the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedan church, rumor has it that a liar who sticks their hand in the fountain's mouth will have it bitten off! In truth the first century sculpture is probably just a rain gutter, but it's great fun to re-enact a famous Audrey Hepburn moment.
What is your favorite place to visit in Rome?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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