Resplendent with over 3 centuries old art and architecture, Rome is a city that resonates with the erstwhile power of the Roman Empire. You will be amazed at the culture reflected even by the ruins (such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum) that are reminiscent of Rome’s impressive past. However, you will be surprised to know that visiting the world famous Roman landmarks are not the only things to look forward to while in Rome. Here are 10 unusual things to do in Rome that will make your holiday a memorable one!
- Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts
Walk through the eerie crypts of Capuchin friars dating back to the 16th century for an unforgettable experience. “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be”, says a plaque at the crypt – a melancholy reminder for the monks who embellished the crypt with the bones of over 4000 friars, their own deceased brethren.
- Porta Alchemica
The hordes of tourists that frequent the park in the central district of Piazza Vittorio can easily miss seeing the magical alchemist door that stands in the middle of the park. It dates back to the 16th century and is marked with numerous ancient symbols. Built by the Roman marquis Massimiliano Palombara, who was a member of “The Alchemists of Palazzo Riario”. Legend has it that the recipe for successfully transforming metals into gold using some herbs is inscribed on the gate. Set your imagination loose and try unscrambling the ancient codes, who knows you might be lucky!
- Rome’s Cat Café for Cat Lovers
If you are a vegan and a cat lover too, then this is the ultimate destination for having a vegan cake among your delightful feline friends. You will love the time spent in the swanky interiors with the cutest of cats to be found in almost every nook and cranny.
- A Splash of Egypt in Rome
If you thought that pyramids could only be visited in Egypt, well think again because you are in for a pleasant surprise! Spend your day admiring the 2000 year old Pyramid of Cestius in the heart of Rome which was built for a religious leader as his final resting place. The history of the pyramid, and its restoration though the ages, will lead you to an interesting aspect of the ancient Roman culture. So, make sure not to miss this opportunity while you are in Rome!
- The Dome Illusion
Experience a logic defying illusion where a flat ceiling appears as a dome when viewed from a particular spot. This illusion of a dome, at the 16th century Jesuit church of Saint Ignazio, has been painted by Andrea Pozzo. Even today, the outstanding painting in perspective baffles the tourists when they view the ceiling from the marked spot.
- Street Art in Ostiense
The local artists of Rome have transformed the marble and brick façade of some streets into colourful canvasses showcasing their talents. Visit the Pigneto and Quadraro districts for viewing beautiful street art pieces and exclusive murals. Try and make time for this unique (and free) experience of seeing an entire building covered from top to bottom by the artist BLU!
- The Surreal House of the Owls
If you are bored of seeing conventional structures which do not surprise you, then visit the ‘House of the Owls‘ (Casina delle Civette) for a surreal experience which is out of the ordinary. It is reminiscent of a Medieval Hamlet owing to the unusual design with porticos and turrets, stained glass and large windows. The time spent in exploring this house will surely be a memorable one.
- Quartiere Coppedé
The Trieste district in northern Rome is home to an amazing fusion of Greek, Roman, Medieval and Art Nouveau architectural creations. Nearly 40 structures are housed in this vast area and they have been brought to life with Florentine towers, frescoes, fountains, décor with mosaics and carvings signifying musical notes. The unusual yet beautiful setting has caught the eyes of many a film producer who has shot films in this bizarre but angelic area.
- The Protestant Cemetery
If you have plans to visit the Pyramid of Cestius, then do take out time to visit this nearby cemetery which is the resting place for celebrated artists and poets such as John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is also home to a semi-feral cat colony that is looked after by volunteers.
- Ospedale delle Bambole
This is where dolls go to get a nip and a tuck! The exceptional Rome’s Doll Hospital gives old, unloved dolls an exceptional makeover. It is here that Federico Squatrito and his mother Gelsomina lovingly tend to antique, dilapidated dolls and other porcelain objects and breathe new life into them. This shop is a collector’s dream and who wouldn’t give their right arm to rummage through the artefacts in this shop as well as listen to the stories attached to them!