Rome’s Seven Little Secrets

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Rome’s Seven Little Secrets

Rome. Italy’s capital city. The Coliseum, the Forum, the Seven Hills, Saint Peter’s Basilica…This is all very true and good, but Rome has many little treasures to share with you, just out of the tourist’s route. Here are seven of them: 1. The Non-Catholic Cemetery Romans call it Cimitero degli Inglesi (Englishmen’s cemetery), but it’s not for English people only. You may think you don’t want to visit a creepy cemetery, but this one is very fascinating. There rest John Keats, Percy B. Shelley, Antonio Gramsci and Carlo Emilio Gadda. There are a lot of cats who live in or nearby the cemetery, and you can see them basking in the sun. The cemetery is in Testaccio, alongside the Pyramid of Cestius, in Via Caio Cestio 6. Opening hours: Monday-Saturday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (last entrance: 4.30 pm), Sundays and public holidays 9.00 am to 1.00 pm (last entrance: 12.30 pm). You should donate at least 3€, to help with the maintenance costs. 2. Rome in a Keyhole The Villa del Priorato di Malta on the Aventino hill (nearby Circo Massimo) is home to the Grand Priory in Rome of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Go to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta and peep from the keyhole of the gate – you will see the famous Cupolone, the majestic dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. If you want more, go visit the nearby Giardino degli Aranci (the Orange Trees Garden) and enjoy the panorama. 3. Quartiere Coppedè It is one of the most mysterious quarters of Rome. So mysterious that the Italian king of horror and thriller movies, the director Dario Argento, used it as a set for his films. It is the result of a style experimentation that mixes medieval towers and Art-Deco, Roman marble, statues of knights, Art-Nouveau, zodiacal symbols, flowers, saints and animals. It is situated in the northern zone of the city and you can reach it by bus – number 86 or 92 from Termini Station. Get down at Piazza Buenos Aires, in front of the church. The quarter is just behind the building. 4. Casina delle Civette (The Owls Cottage) It is a small cottage in the beautiful park of Villa Torlonia, property of the prince Alessandro Torlonia. His nephew Giovanni started the rich decoration of the building, adding colorful windows, turrets, majolicas and stucco. As the name suggests, little owls are the major decorative motif, but there are also flowers, fairies, peacocks and other animals. The park is in Via Nomentana 70 (nearest metro station: Bologna) and it is opened from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. Closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. Full price ticket, 10€; Reduced price ticket, 8€. Children under 6 and RomaPass card holders – free entry. 5. Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Also known as Chiesa dei Cappuccini. If you are faint of heart, do not visit this church! Its crypt contains 4000 skeletons of Capuchin friars buried between 1500 and 1870. Some of them are still clad in their robe, while others have been used to lavishly decorate the walls of the ossuary. Via Veneto 27. Opening hours: 9.00 am – 12.00 am; 3.00 pm – 6.00 pm. Closed on Thursdays. A “mandatory donation” of 1-2€ is requested. Very strict dress code (no bare shoulders/legs). 6. The Zodiac It is one of the most romantic and breathtaking belvedere in Rome, thanks to its position on Monte Mario (via Parco dei Mellini 90). It is amazing at night, when the whole city is adorned with lights. Traditionally, lovers come here for a dreamy walk. There is a restaurant and a snack bar, but they can both be quite expensive. 7. Abbazia delle Tre Fontane This complex of churches is surrounded by Eucalyptus trees. The abbey is said to rise in the place where Saint Paul was beheaded. The legend says that his head bounced three times, generating three springs. Here live the Trappist Fathers of the Cistercian Order, who hold the place and produce delicious treats. They are famous in Rome for their chocolate and liqueurs, which you can buy in their shop. Viale Acque Salvie 1. The abbey is open from 6:30am to 12:30am and from 3pm to 8:30pm.

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