9 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome
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9 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

9 Non-Touristy Things To Do In Rome

Rome, the Eternal City, is renowned for its iconic landmarks like the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Trevi Fountain. While these sites are undoubtedly spectacular, there's so much more to Rome than its well-trodden tourist paths. For those looking to delve deeper into the city's heart and discover its hidden gems, here are nine non-touristy things you should definitely do in Rome. These experiences will give you a unique perspective on Rome and make your trip truly unforgettable.

1. Explore the Quartiere Coppedè

Tucked away in the Trieste district is Quartiere Coppedè, one of Rome's best-kept secrets. This small neighborhood is a whimsical blend of various architectural styles, including Art Nouveau, Baroque, and medieval fantasy. Designed by architect Gino Coppedè in the early 20th century, the area feels like a surreal movie set.

Start your Rome self-guided tour by wandering through the ornate archways and taking in the intricate details of the buildings. Don’t miss the central fountain, Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs), which adds to the fairy-tale atmosphere. Quartiere Coppedè is a peaceful escape from the bustling city center, perfect for those seeking unique things to do in Rome.

2. Discover the Street Art of Quadraro

For a dose of contemporary culture, head to the Quadraro district, an area known for its vibrant street art. The neighborhood has become an open-air gallery, thanks to the MURo (Museo Urban di Roma) project, which invites artists from around the world to create murals on the walls of local buildings.

Take a Rome self-guided tour of the district and marvel at the stunning artworks that range from political statements to abstract designs. Quadraro’s street art scene offers a fresh and modern perspective on the city, showcasing Rome's dynamic artistic spirit.

3. Visit the Protestant Cemetery

The Protestant Cemetery, also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery, is a tranquil and historic burial ground located near the Pyramid of Cestius. This serene spot is the final resting place of many notable figures, including the English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Stroll through the beautifully landscaped grounds, where you’ll find an array of ornate tombstones and monuments. The peaceful ambiance makes it a perfect place for quiet reflection and a unique addition to your Rome sightseeing itinerary.

4. Take a Cooking Class with a Local

One of the most rewarding things to do in Rome is to immerse yourself in the local cuisine. Instead of dining at touristy restaurants, why not learn to cook authentic Italian dishes with a local chef? Many culinary schools and home chefs in Rome offer hands-on cooking classes where you can learn to make pasta, pizza, and other Italian specialties from scratch.

These classes often include a visit to a local market to pick out fresh ingredients, providing an authentic glimpse into Roman daily life. Plus, you get to enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor at the end of the session!

5. Explore the Catacombs of Priscilla

While the Catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano are popular tourist spots, the Catacombs of Priscilla offer a quieter, more intimate experience. Located along the ancient Via Salaria, these catacombs are known for their well-preserved frescoes and early Christian art.

Join a tour to explore the underground tunnels and learn about the history and significance of this ancient burial site. The Catacombs of Priscilla provide a fascinating look into early Christian history and are a must-visit for those interested in Rome’s ancient past.

6. Relax in Villa Doria Pamphili

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a visit to Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome’s largest public park. This sprawling green space offers a peaceful retreat with its manicured gardens, wooded areas, and charming ponds.

Pack a picnic and spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the park’s trails, or simply relax under the shade of a tree with a good book. Villa Doria Pamphili is also a great spot for jogging, cycling, and bird-watching, making it one of the top non-touristy things to do in Rome.

7. Attend a Classical Music Concert at Sant’Agnese in Agone

Located in the heart of Piazza Navona, Sant’Agnese in Agone is a stunning Baroque church that often hosts classical music concerts. Attending a concert here allows you to enjoy beautiful music in an equally beautiful setting, away from the typical tourist crowds.

The church’s intimate atmosphere and excellent acoustics make it the perfect venue for performances of works by composers such as Vivaldi, Bach, and Mozart. Check the schedule and book tickets in advance to secure your spot for this enchanting experience.

8. Wander Through the Jewish Ghetto

Rome’s Jewish Ghetto is one of the oldest in the world, and it’s a neighborhood rich in history and culture. Begin your Rome city tour by exploring the narrow streets and discovering historic landmarks such as the Great Synagogue of Rome and the Portico d’Ottavia.

The Jewish Ghetto is also home to some of Rome’s best-kept culinary secrets. Be sure to try traditional Roman Jewish dishes like carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes) at one of the local trattorias. The area’s unique blend of history and cuisine makes it a fascinating place to visit.

9. Experience Rome’s Nightlife in Testaccio

For a taste of Rome’s vibrant nightlife, head to the Testaccio district. This former industrial area has been transformed into a nightlife hotspot, with a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Testaccio is less touristy than the city center, attracting a more local crowd. Whether you’re in the mood for dancing the night away or enjoying a relaxed evening with friends, Testaccio offers a range of options to suit any preference. Don’t miss the chance to try some late-night street food at the local market before heading home.

Practical Tips for Your Rome Adventure

Getting Around

Public Transport: Rome has an extensive public transport network, including buses, trams, and the metro. A Roma Pass can be a convenient option, offering unlimited travel on public transport and discounted entry to many attractions. For a more personalized experience, consider renting a bike or taking a Rome self-guided tour on foot.

Safety and Etiquette

Stay Safe: Rome is generally safe, but like any major city, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and on public transport. Keep your belongings secure and avoid displaying valuable items openly.

Respect Local Customs: When visiting religious sites, dress modestly and be respectful of worshippers. In general, Romans appreciate politeness and courtesy, so a little effort to use basic Italian phrases can go a long way.

When to Visit

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Rome is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is mild and the tourist crowds are smaller. These seasons offer pleasant conditions for exploring both outdoor and indoor attractions.


Where to Stay: Rome offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. For a more local experience, consider staying in a neighborhood like Trastevere, Testaccio, or Monti. These areas offer charming streets, excellent dining options, and a more authentic Roman atmosphere.

Dining Tips

Eating Out: Italian meal times can be later than you might be used to, with lunch typically served from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and dinner from 8:00 PM onwards. When dining out, look for trattorias and osterias that are popular with locals to enjoy authentic Roman cuisine.

Try Local Specialties: Rome is known for its culinary delights, so be sure to try dishes like cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper), supplì (fried rice balls), and saltimbocca (veal with prosciutto and sage). Pair your meal with a glass of local wine for a complete dining experience.

Money Matters

Currency and Payments: The currency in Rome is the Euro (€). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases and in case you encounter places that don’t accept cards. ATMs are readily available throughout the city.

Tipping: Tipping in Rome is not obligatory, but it’s appreciated. In restaurants, it’s common to leave a small tip (around 5-10%) if the service was good. For cafes and bars, rounding up to the nearest Euro or leaving some change is customary.

Additional Non-Touristy Activities

Local Markets: Visiting local markets is one of the most authentic things to do in Rome. Markets like Campo de’ Fiori and Mercato Testaccio offer a glimpse into daily life in Rome, with fresh produce, local delicacies, and unique souvenirs.

Hidden Museums: Beyond the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums, Rome is home to several lesser-known museums that are worth exploring. The Centrale Montemartini, housed in a former power plant, features an intriguing collection of ancient Roman sculptures and industrial machinery.

Gardens and Parks: Rome’s gardens and parks provide a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. In addition to Villa Doria Pamphili, visit the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden) in Trastevere or the gardens of Villa Borghese for a relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature.

By incorporating these non-touristy things to do in Rome into your itinerary, you’ll experience a side of the city that many visitors miss. From hidden architectural gems to vibrant local neighborhoods, these activities will help you connect with the authentic spirit of Rome and create lasting memories. Enjoy your adventure in the Eternal City!

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