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Many travelers add Italy, and specifically Rome, to their travel lists each year, but only a few know where to begin their travels. Rome can seem daunting if all you know is that it’s a huge city with tons to see and do. This is why we’ve created a list of 15 unique experiences in Rome to enhance your time there and help you create lasting memories. Our list ranges from strolls through gardens and parks and visits to monumental museums and churches to day trips that take you to smaller towns just outside of Rome and some of the best gelato and restaurants offering you a look and taste into local cuisine. So start your travel itineraries with this list below and see where your Roman trip takes you. Let’s begin!
Villa D’Este, Hadrians Villa and Tivoli Gardens
Only a short 20 miles from the city of Rome, you will find the charming town of Tivoli. This is known to be one of the most unique experience in all of Rome. If this is an activity that interests you, consider booking a private Copenhagen city tour by car, or walking, along with a stop at the Rosenborg Castle. The town’s 16th-century structures, like Villa d’Este, exemplify refined renaissance culture and the lasting beauty of the bygone era. The palace and grounds include lovely gardens with magnificently designed fountains that are worth a few hours of exploration. Hadrian’s Villa is close by and is indicative of the beauty of the ancient Roman Empire. The remaining statues, gardens, and waters are a spectacle. The villas are named a UNESCO world heritage site and are open to touring in small groups or with a private guide. For the most top-tier experience, have a luxury travel agent book your private excursions, or chat with a travel coach for more inspiration.
2. Stroll the Quartiere Coppedè Neighborhood
Quietly recognized as Rome’s best-kept secret away from the crowds and tourists, Quartiere Coppedè is known for its attractive architectural styles, all coming together to create this small and quaint corner of a bustling city. It was built in 1919 and held the influence of art nouveau with meticulous carvings and references to Baroque and Roman architecture techniques. So whether you have a morning to yourself or want to enjoy a few quiet hours away from big city crowds, add this a stop on your itinerary. Traveling in Rome exclusive private tours, especially during busy seasons, can cause a headache.
Visit an Outdoor Food Market in Trastevere and Take a Hidden Food Tour
Noted as one of the prettiest areas of Rome, Trastevere is the perfect little hidden location to escape once you visit the Colosseum and Vatican City. The streets are filled with friendly locals, colorful cafes, and food markets that will leave you in awe. You can also take a hidden food tour that includes trying a selection of eateries and local wines and drinks while you get to know the beautiful neighborhood and one of the best food scenes in the big city. Any foodie would agree that his is one of the best when it comes to the list of the most unique experiences in Rome. Consider checking out our culinary guide to learn more about must eats in Italy!
Learn How to Make a Real Meal in a Private Villa of a Renowned Italian Chef
Discover the secrets and traditions that enhance your cooking technique from an authentic local Tuscan chef. The first step in your cooking class is understanding the proper selection of ingredients. Then you will learn about recipes that call for cooking with and without eggs. Next, you will knead, roll, and cut the pasta before experimenting with different fillings and colors to create varieties such as ravioli, tortellini, or cappelletti. No pasta dish is complete without a delicious sauce. Your cooking class will continue with sauce preparation, where you will learn how to match pasta shapes with specific sauces. Finally, once the work is complete, enjoy your creation and lively conversation over a glass of wine. For foodies, check out our 8 day Italy itinerary – Rome & The Amalfi Coast for culture and food.
Explore the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church
Dating back to the 5th century A.D, this is the oldest church with a circular foundation in Rome. The church sits within a garden surrounded by Roman walls. Lining the walls inside are 24 16th-century frescos. These magnificent yet terrifying frescoes depict a gruesome history of the time and were used for many years after the violence as source material for seminarians studying there. Although history buffs and Catholics will especially appreciate this experience, the history and beauty of the building is an excellent stop for all travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences in Rome.
Secret Vatican – Original Bramante staircase and Chapel of Nicholas V
While the Vatican is open to tourists throughout the year, there are certain secret areas not available to the public. The exclusiveness of this activity is why it is a must when it comes to unique experiences in Rome. One of the most magnificent sights within the Vatican is the original Bramante staircase used by the pope and even animals to access the Belvedere Palace without disruption. The Chapel of Nicholas V is another hidden gem. It was commissioned for Nicholas V himself. Be sure to book ahead and find some time to visit these wonders not many get the chance to see. The Vatican offers many exclusive tours, some early in the morning and others late at night. For the ultimate experience, book an exclusive private breakfast at the Vatican followed by a tour.
Bike the Appian Way to the Catacombs
We know you’ll probably be adding the catacombs to your itinerary when you visit Rome but who says getting there has to be a boring? Instead of driving to the Catacombs take a scenic bike ride along the Appian Way. This route showcases Rome in a new light. This bike ride passes serene countryside, ancient ruins, mausoleums, and the Christian catacombs. You can find many bike tours making their way through the Appian Way and electric-assisted bikes for the ones wanting a little ease during the tour.
Explore the Vatican Necropolis and St. Peter’s Tomb
Deep under Vatican City lies a burial ground referred to as Vatican Necropolis. The Necropolis lay hidden for hundredes of years and was finally uncovered in the 1940s for the world to see. A tour through this area of the Vatican is exclusive to 250 people per day. Those lucky enough to secure a spot will learn a great history lessons. From Roman emperors to Christianity in the 4th century, and even about St. Peter’s death and Michelangelo’s design of Saint Peter’s Basilica, which is thought to be sitting perfectly above his grave. For guaranteed admission, book a faster then skip-the-line trip to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St.Peters all in one.
Day trip to Chianti
Tuscany is a must-see when you visit Italy, and we recommend the region of Chianti which stretches between Florence and Siena. While it’s best to spend a few days here, a day trip will do if you are short on time. When traveling throughout Italy, be sure to look out for the best hotels to add to your luxurious itinerary. Top their hotels are sure to add to a magnificent vacation.
While in Chianti, you can rent a bike and make your way through vineyards, olive groves, churches, and castles. We also recommend booking a wine tour with a picnic included. You can get exclusive access, a mini-course on wine production, and a picnic overlooking the gorgeous vineyards you only see on postcards and in movies.
Stroll through Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese is the largest park in Rome and is the perfect way to escape the noise of the big city. In this public park, you will find many refreshments and ice-cream vendors, as well as over 90 areas of interest to tourists, which you’ll find on one of the many maps sitting throughout the park. If you continue walking all the way through, it’ll take roughly 45 minutes to an hour, and you’ll end up on the Spanish Steps overlooking a significant area of the city.
Taste the Best Gelato in the World
You can’t get any more authentic and delicious than gelato in Rome, and we have a few of the highly rated spots for you to try on your next trip to Rome. Many of these shops have been around for decades with the same delicious recipes that have thrived year after year. Fassi Gelateria is ranked number one among many lists and has served large crowds for five generations. Come il Latte – the super creamy gelato that comes out of this shop is made with 60-70% local milk, but don’t worry.
If you’re vegan, they have options there for you too! The last spot is known for its location, Il Gelato di San Crispino, which sits next to the Trevi fountain, and is even located in the famous Elizabeth Gilbert book, Eat Pray Love. Find more options at the link in the title.
Climb the Top of St. Peter’s Basilica
It’s 100% possible to stand on top of one of Rome’s most significant structures, St. Peter’s Basilica. If you like seeing things from a bird’s eye view, there are a few levels you can climb. The first takes you to the interior of the magnificent dome, where you can see beautiful views of the basilica below. You can then take another 300 steps up and access the roof behind the statues of Jesus and the Apostles. Finally, another 550 steps through a very narrow and winding staircase will help you reach the cupola, and that’s where you will be able to take in that bird’s eye view of Vatican City in its glorious entirety.
Vatican Key Masters
Another wonderful and unique experience in Rome that many people don’t take part in is joining the key Master in Vatican City as they go from gallery to gallery opening up the museums for the day. For 2 exclusive hours, you’re joined by only a few others, and a Vatican guide as the key master makes their way through the establishment. You’ll get an up close and personal look into frescos, sculptures, renowned works of art, and famous galleries. You can stay inside the Vatican for as long as you wish after the opening.
Visit the Arena Floor of the Colosseum
While a good part of the colosseum is open to the public, the arena floor is only available to special tours willing to dive a little deeper into the colosseum and the history it carries. The arena floor is where all the action took place. While we’re glad, we’ve changed our ways when it comes to that kind of violence, immersing yourself in that history and getting that perspective is a once-in-a-lifetime experience worth seeing for yourself.
Take a day trip to Pompeii
Just a few short hours from Rome lies the ancient city once destroyed by Mount Vesuvius and preserved with lava and ash, Pompeii. This trip will take you at least a day, so plan accordingly because it’ll be worth taking some time away from the city to visit this monumental town. We recommend taking a tour as seeing the site itself is a little tricky without help. Booking a small group or private tour is the most popular way to handle the trip. You’ll leave Rome in the morning as the trained guide will educate you on facts and stories as you ride to the site. Some tours will even take you down to the Amalfi coast for lunch, so pick accordingly and enjoy the ride on one of the most unique experiences in Rome!
Now that you know all of the most unique experiences in Rome, be sure to look at the most luxurious hotels in Rome for couples and honeymooners.
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