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12 under the radar things to do in Rome

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Veritably drenched in history as far back as, well, almost forever. It’s easy to see why people come from all corners of the globe to experience the delights found within this Italian capital. Whether it’s the ornate and bountiful fountains found throughout the city such as the Trevi Fountain (Romans are obsessed with fountains) or the desire to climb the Spanish Steps, Rome’s place as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe is definitely not a statement without evidence and should be on anyone’s travel wishlist. But, there’s more to life than fountains. We’re all huge Rome fans here at Global Grasshopper and in partnership with Trip4Real, here’s our collective selection for 12 different, unusual things to do in Rome….

Cycle to Castel Sant’Angelo at sunset

Castel Sant’Angelo

What’s better than cycling around Rome on a balmy evening after a little aperitivo? With the sunsetting in front of you as you ride a bicycle towards the famous Castel Sant’Angelo. You’ll have the opportunity to see the Tiber River, ancient and enchanting bridges and, of course, the sublime sunset. What are you waiting for? On your bike!

Visit the Museum of the Souls in Purgatory

Rome museum

This museum is found within another museum. Museumception. The Museum of Souls in Purgatory is situated in the vestry of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a place in Rome which is really off the beaten path and isn’t full of tourists. The amazing thing about this place? It’s just a simple room full of scorched papers, books and bibles of people’s faces – representing souls trapped in purgatory. Not bad, Rome. Not bad at all.

Go for an espresso in a historic cafe

Caffè Sant’Eustachio

Italians know their coffee. No, like, they really know it. There isn’t a Starbucks in sight in Rome. Anyway, back in 1945 a man called Achille Gaggia invented what is known as the modern espresso machine in Milan and before long everyone was crazy for the caffeine. But to have a really delicious espresso like the Romans, pop to Caffè Sant’Eustachio. It opened in 1938 and the original furnishings are still largely there. Awesome.

Take a gelato class in Trastevere

gelato making class Rome

Gelato is to Rome what cheese is to France, it’s what oxygen is to my lungs. Necessary. A requirement. And what better place to get your gelato fix then in the capital of Italy. Gelato is a serious affair and not to be taken lightly. A class at the Gelato School in Trastevere will have you learning the basics of this indulgent ice cream including the importance of the consistency between dairy and water. The ingredients are organic and fresh so I suppose that makes it all slightly less guilt inducing for the dieters amongst us.

Make friends with cats

Largo Argentina

Miaow. Rome is home to many cats without homes. But there’s a shelter found within the city just for them. So if you’re feline particularly lonely and want to surround yourself with an abundance of cats then Largo Argentina is the place for you. Whilst a cat sanctuary is no unusual thing what makes this one special is its set upon the ruins of Pompey’s Theatre. Trust cats to set up camp in such a majestic way.

Explore Pigneto’s street art

Pigneto’s street art

Paris has Belleville, London has Shoreditch, New York has Williamsburg and Italy has Pigneto. It’s the alternative neighbourhood that’s bursting with enough street art to throw a stick at. Local artists flock here from all over and the decorated buildings are a feast for the eyes. So for the hipsters amongst us, this is certainly a place to go and get lost in the streets. In this little corner of Rome there’s also a cinema and a food market making it one vibrant and cultural district worth witnessing.

Visit one of Rome’s flea markets

Monti Market

Whilst Rome is typically known for its high fashion from the likes of prestigious designers like Armani, Prada, Gucci and Versace, you’d be surprised of the treasures hidden within the various Roman vintage markets. A stone’s throw away from the Colosseum is the Monti Market which strikes a balance between vintage fashion and bright and wonderful furnishing. It’s full of many old and unloved items begging to be given a new lease of life.

People watch

IVO A Trastevere, Top 10 Rome restaurants

Free things to do in Rome? Hello, people watching. This is great because you don’t pay a penny and it’s fascinating. Everyone in Rome, whether it’s students, families, kids, anyone they congregate in piazzas and public places making for the perfect excuse to sit and see Italian life happen right before your eyes.

Go horse riding on the Appian Way

Appian Way

Yep. Horse riding. Totally possible. Completely fun. Firstly, the Appian Way is beautiful whether you manage to find a horse or not. It’s an ancient Roman road that connected the capital city to Brindisi. The long length of the road matched with the verdant vistas make it a perfect excuse to grab your hiking boots and go for a day long walk. Although, if you manage to walk the 350 miles in one day, I’ll eat my hat. But, in the spirit of doing things slightly differently, grab a horse (preferably find one from a registered horse riding company) and see the history unfold before your eyes.

Learn how to make pasta with a local Italian family

Rolling

The glutton in us cannot help but throw another foodie thing to do in Rome. Italy basically has pasta coming out of its ears. It’s everywhere. Left, right and centre. And we love it. Tagliatelle, farfalle, fusilli, spaghetti, fettuccine… it’s like poetry. Tasty, tasty poetry. But imagine doing it in an authentic Italian family home with an authentic Italian wood oven? Buon appetito!

See art by Caravaggio

Caravaggio

Caravaggio is almost synonymous with Italian baroque art. At the Galleria Borghese you can feast your eyes on the works created by this genius alongside others such as Titian. It’s really worth it if you’re huge art fan and it’s really worth it if you’re not because either way you’ll leave knowing a little more about Italian culture. And, that’s never a bad thing. Right?

Follow in Audrey Hepburn’s footsteps

La Bocca della Verità

Ahh, Audrey Hepburn. Such class. Such refinery. As the princess in the film Roman Holiday, she escapes her royal duties and goes off on her own to really discover Rome. On her discoveries she visits the Mouth of Truth or La Bocca della Verità in Italian. Its purpose is to “eat” the hands of liars when you slide your hand into its mouth. Try it! Although, unlike Audrey, it’s doubtful you’ll win an Academy Award during your visit.

With a thousands of really interesting things to do in Rome, no longer does heading to the typical monuments (I’m looking at you Spanish Steps!) have to be a priority. Take your time, try one of these unusual things to do in Rome and you’ll be experiencing the city a little more like a local. After all, isn’t that what we all want?

Written by Steven Douglas from Trip4real. Trip4 real connects travellers from across the globe access to more authentic and enriching experiences, trip4real’s technology enables locals to list activities with the click of a button and for travelers to book them just as easily.

Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter

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