Beyond the Ruins: 6 Off-the-Beaten Path Sites in Rome

March 5, 2015
Beyond the Ruins: 6 Off-the-Beaten Path Sites in Rome

My love for Rome started not with the Colosseum. It started with a few special sites a little off the beaten track. These are the sites I enjoy most. Especially after I discovered that many locals love to spend time in them as well. If you combine the spots I recommend with the ancient sites (Pantheon, Roman Forum, Vatican, or Palantine Hill) you will gain a well-rounded experience. It will enhance your understanding of Rome and its history — and have a wonderful time.

The best news of all is that, with the exception of the MAXXI Museum, all of the Rome sites on my list are free!

Beyond the Ruins: 6 Off-the-Beaten Path Sites in Rome


At any time of day, visibility rom the Giancolo (or Janiculum Hill). It’s across from the city and is breathtaking. It offers the best panorama of Rome, bar none.

You can identify many of the ancient sites from this second-highest hill of Rome. And if that isn’t enough, you can turn around to see St Peter’s Basilica and the expanse of the Villa Pamphili park in the near distance. My tip? Bring beers and snacks to enjoy when you watch the gorgeous Roman sky changing myriad colours. You’ll watch as the sun disappears behind St Peter’s.


Completed in 2010, this incredible contemporary museum designed by Zaha Hadid. It is modern Rome to the core. It can be found at the north of the historical centre. And its worth a visit for its awe-inspiring use of space and materials. The inner staircase and winding platform feel as if they could be the innards of a space ship.  They are all black and white with red bars and shining textures.

The museum has up to five different displays you can view at one time. In fact, the grand design of the building certainly is like nothing else in Rome.


Beyond the Ruins: 6 Off-the-Beaten Path Sites in Rome

At the southern end of Rome lies the EUR neighbourhood, short for Esposizione Universale di Roma. EUR was Benito Mussolini’s pet project in the 1930s, planned for an exposition that never took place. He intended to make EUR the new historical centre of Rome and even built an obelisk as an echo of ancient times, celebrating the life of Guglielmo Marconi, a twentieth-century Italian inventor.

As its roots date from Fascist rule, EUR differs substantially from the rest of Roman architecture. The grandeur of the enormous and imposing Rationalist buildings stand around large boulevards, and the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, known as the Square Colosseum, is particularly dramatic.

Villa Doria Pamphili

Rome’s largest public park is irresistible in any season, with its beautifully-manicured lawns, varied types of flora, and an adorable turtle pond. The grounds were acquired by the Pamphili family in the seventeenth century, along with its villa. The following hundred years saw more buildings, fountains and sculptures erected.

The park has two sections which are connected by a very modern foot bridge, so you can start out on one side to see the villa itself and then continue on to find your perfect quite picnic spot, surrounded by Italian serenity.

Via Veneto

This street is a must-visit, ideal for sauntering down the pavements in head-to-foot Valentino while whistling ‘Volare’. The film ‘La Dolce Vita’ was filmed in this area, and since then it has attracted all participants of the sweet life, Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel included.

Stop for dinner at one of the charming glass box restaurants in the middle of the sidewalk, observe the never ending hustle and bustle, and enjoy the beautiful nineteenth-century architecture from all perspectives.

The best news of all is that, with the exception of the MAXXI, all of the Rome sites on my list are free!

Piazza Augusto Imperatore

An often-missed area when touring Rome sites, this piazza is a rare time warp with ancient Rome, rationalist Rome and modern Rome all on display at once. It contains the Mausoleum of Augustus (circa 28 BCE) with its surrounding gardens and ruins, as well as four enormous buildings of Rationalist architecture, built during the 1930s with their large columns, friezes and mosaics.

Joining these are the Ara Pacis, an altar to peace from 9 BCE, and, finally, the modern Museo dell’Ara Pacis. Piazza Augusto Imperatore is worth the time to check it all out. Perhaps pausing for lunch in the surrounding restaurants and finishing off with a visit to the Museo’s photography and sculpture displays. On the first and third Sunday of every month, you can also visit a small market to purchase antiques and general trinkets.

Beyond the Ruins: 6 Off-the-Beaten Path Sites in Rome

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Weekend in Rome: A Weekend of Ecstatic Eating, Dancing, & Sightseeing

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Beyond the Ruins: 6 Off-the-Beaten Path Sites in Rome photo credit: unsplash

About Jade Rudnyckyj

Jade Rudnyckyj is Pink Pangea’s Italy Correspondent.

Jade is a helpless wanderluster, constantly on the move to find new and exciting experiences–anywhere in the world. A background in costume and theatre means she seeks only the most aesthetically inspirational cities, so she has found herself in the most eternal one, Rome, at least for now.

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