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Uncover our top hidden gems in the Eternal City of Rome

trevi fountain in Rome, Italy

They say all roads lead to Rome, the eternal city where history, culture, gladiators and food intertwine. Welcoming up to 10 million visitors each year, people flock to Rome to see incredible sights such as the Colosseum and Vatican City, so it can be hard to find hidden treasures amongst the droves of tourists.  

But never fear, we’ve compiled a list of off the beaten track food spots and experiences to help you skip the crowds and indulge in la dolce vita (hint: it means the sweet life) on your next trip to Rome.   

1. Mercato Centrale

Loved by locals, this busting central market seems to be skipped over by tourists all the time which is a crying shame as it is your one stop shop for all things Italian food. Located just off Termini station, this central market boasts the best artisan chefs and food creators from across Rome. Perfect for groups, this market has a huge central table area, bustling bar and 18 stalls to choose from offering staples like pizza and pasta to fried mozzarella balls, fresh porchetta rolls, arancini and even tomahawk steaks. 

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2. Pastificio Guerra

Just a stone’s throw away from busy Piazza di Spagna is a hole in the wall pasta shop serving up authentic Roman cuisine. Pastificio Guerra has been around since 1918 and serves to provide local workers with a takeaway meal with a homemade feel. Offering just two types of pasta daily (think Roman classics such as carbonara, cacio e pepe and amatriciana) the portions are HUGE and the prices are low (5 euros hello!) Expect to line up, but the wait is absolutely worth it.  

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3. Galleria Colonna

Located in central Rome within the Palazzo Colonna is Galleria Colonna. This deceptively grand 13th century palazzo was once home to the noble Colonna family and showcases their extensive art collection amongst the grandeur of the Roman Baroque architecture. Offering both private visits and guided tours, the Galleria Colonna is a feast for the eyes and the perfect pit stop for lovers of art, beauty and opulence.

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4. Pizza e Mortadella

Imagine a whole wall of cheese tastings, flowing red wine, and a window full of the freshest focaccia sandwiches and porchetta rolls. This is what awaits you at Pizza e Mortadella. Appearing as a small delicatessen in the trendy Monti neighbourhood, this shop offers so much more and is the perfect place to pick up picnic ingredients or to sit in and indulge in truffle salami, chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano and tubs of sundried tomatoes.  

5. Villa Borghese golf-buggy bikes

Considered the green lung of Rome, the Villa Borghese is the largest park in Rome and offers a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. Originally built as the private gardens and vineyards of Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1606, the impressive landscape features elegant buildings and extensive gardens. Bring a picnic, friends, wine and laugh yourself silly as you ride around the park on golf-buggy style bikes.  

6. Capuchin Monk Crypts

Not for the faint hearted, the Crypts of the Capuchin Monks are a macabre yet morbidly fascinating attraction in the heart of Rome. Located beneath the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, these crypts contain the skeletal remains of over 4,000 Capuchin monks. What makes it unique is the intricate decoration of bones, arranged in elaborate patterns and designs, inspiring writers, artists and lovers of the obscure for centuries.  

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7. Secret pools of the Trevi Fountain

Underneath one of the most iconic sights in all of Rome is this little-known hidden gem – the Vicus Caprarious, or City of Water. Dating back to the 1st century, this ancient apartment complex offers an insight into the lives of upper class Romans with housing, mosaics and figurines displayed throughout. But what makes it extra special are the various pools of water, straight from the Aqua Virgo, that still feed the Trevi Fountain above to this day.

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8. The Pyramid of Ostiense

You’d be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to ancient Egypt when you lay your eyes on a pyramid in the centre of Rome. The Pyramid of Cestius is over 2000 years old, built in 12BC by a wealthy Roman magistrate obsessed with Egypt. This was just one of four ancient pyramid structures dotted around ancient Rome and was believed to be the final resting place of Remus, the twin brother to Romulus, founder of Rome.  

Even though all roads lead to Rome, it’s time to get off the beaten path and discover the hidden gems dotted around this ancient city. When travelling to Rome with Contiki, you can be sure to tick off the big bucket list items with your new best friends, whilst also having loads of free time to explore the old capital of the world on your own terms.

Whether you want a deep dive into Italian culture on our Simply Italy trip, or just a taste of what Rome has to offer on trips such as our European Quest or European Wanderer, be sure to get lost in the cobbled streets, eat your weight in local delicacies and stray from the crowds to soak up the best of what this city has to offer.  

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