If you’re visiting Rome, you’ll do the usual tourist spots – you’ll see the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and many more attractions on the usual lists. The architecture and history of the city is breath-taking and continues to be one of the reasons why we love it so much.
It’s not all about the hustle and bustle though. The tourist hoards can get tiring and claustrophobic at times – especially if you’re in Rome for a few days. Take the time to explore one or all of these areas that are a stone’s throw from some of Rome’s most famous sights, and have a quieter and authentic Italian experience, away from the tours and crowds.
Monti is right between The Colosseum (a 10 minute walk) and Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, another tourist hotspot. Its cobblestone streets and old buildings will make you feel miles away from the crowds outside the Colosseum.
Monti is great for shopping. Mercato Monti is a hidden vintage market underneath the Hotel Palatino that showcases about 30 vendors each Sunday. There are designer vintage clothes and sunglasses, independent jewelry makers and unique nick-knacks for you to browse or buy. If you’re not in Monti on Sunday, head to Pulp Vintage, a cute little vintage shop where you can find cheap clothes, shoes and accessories– some vintage, some new. Once a week Pulp Vintage gets brand new pieces from famous designer brands.
Monti is also a hub of cool bars and restaurants. Ai Tre Scallini is one of our favourite bars. It’s small but popular and serves amazing food with a great selection of drinks. Look for the bridge of ivy that spans the entire street as you walk down Via Panisperna away from the Colosseum, or if you’re visiting later in the afternoon, groups of Italians spilling out of the bar on to the front steps. Be sure to stop in for a drink, or lunch!
Trastevere is a hidden corner of Rome, and is a great place to head for an afternoon. An expanse of bars and cute restaurants and cafes line the pretty cobbled streets and interesting shops will lure you in to take a look. Head to Piazza di Santa Maria, and have a seat on the fountain steps and people watch with the locals.
On Sundays, Porta Portese’s flea market will keep you entertained for a few hours, and you might even pick up a few bargains!
If you find yourself in Trastevere on a nice day, head to the Gianicolo, the eighth hill of Rome. After a 20 minute climb, you’ll be rewarded with the best views in the city, without the tourists. Head to Via Garibaldi, then Passeggiata del Giancolo and you’ll see the Garibaldi statue at the top of the hill. Aim for that!
Trastevere comes alive at night, with shutters rolling up to reveal bars and nightclubs across the neighbourhood. You’ll have a night to remember in Trastevere with food and drinks to keep you entertained for hours.
Frascati is a beautiful quiet town in the hills surrounding Rome that is only a 20-30 minute train ride from Rome Termini (the central train station in Rome). Even better, it costs just 2.10 Euros each way to get there.
People living and working in the capital regularly take the trip to Frascati to eat in one of the many delicious restaurants and enjoy the cooler climate – there’s a nice breeze high up in the hills, especially in the summer months!
Catch the train to Frascati in the early afternoon and take a walk around the town, do some shopping and explore the narrow network of streets.
When you get hungry, grab a porchetta roll, some olives and cheese from one of the stalls in Piazza del Mercato and head to one of the traditional Frascati taverns like Osteria Dell’olmo and enjoy their strong (!) but delicious home-made wine – a wine that has made Frascati an important and valued destination for the inhabitants of Rome for hundreds of years. You can bring your own food to these taverns, which gives them a great atmosphere – we saw families bringing pots and saucepans of food with them to dish out, whilst they enjoyed the wine in the open air. The homemade wine in the taverns will set you back about 5 Euros for a half a litre so it’s cheap, but strong!
If you fancy a more formal dining experience, Ristorante Fontana Vecchia or Il Tettuccio served up some of the best pasta we've ever eaten – real homemade Italian food.
The views of Rome from the town are spectacular, during the day and at night, so be sure to take those in before heading back to Rome. On a clear day, you can see the Vatican from Frascati.
If you are in Frascati for a little longer – book on to a Minardi Frascati Winery Tour and learn about the town’s wine making history in a beautiful setting – one of the best ways to spend a few hours in Frascati.
Take a chance on one or all of these areas and explore a Rome you won’t find in every guidebook.
Pairofpassports.com is a travel blog by Hannah and Rob from Peterborough, UK. They're happiest when they are exploring a new place or planning their next trip. One day they want to travel full time, but until then PairofPassports.com is the place where they will record their travel experiences and tips as they explore the world. firstname.lastname@example.org.