Once you've seen the Coliseum, toured the ruins of a fallen empire and explored the Vatican Museums, those travel guides would have visitors to Rome believe that there is nothing left to see in the Eternal City. However, from industrial archeology to contemporary street art, Rome is still very much a vibrant and exciting city with sights left to see. Visitors need only wander off the tried and true tourist path to experience some of Rome's off the beaten track treasures.
Baths of Caracalla
Just a short walk from the Circus Maximus is one of ancient Rome's most overlooked ruins - the Baths of Caracalla. This once immense structure is outside the usual central tourist circuit belonged to the rather obscure Emperor by the name of Caracalla. Despite the adjacent roads, once inside the remaining structure of the baths, this peaceful spot makes visitors forget they are in the heart of a sprawling metropolis. As visitors tour the now defunct public baths, they will gain a profound look at just how huge ancient Rome was if it could house such massive complexes like this bath house as well as millions of people. While there were a number of sculptures within the bath house, they have all been relocated to local museums. However, the black and white tile mosaics still remain on the walls and give a glimpse into ancient life. For those visiting in the summer, the Teatro dell'Opera holds frequent performances using the baths as a stage for an incredibly atmospheric show.
The Protestant Cemetery
Although it is becoming a popular off the beaten track attraction, the allure of Rome's only protestant cemetery is real. After the city adopted Christianity, Rome has always been a devout catholic city, but not all of its residents remained as such. As other denominations passed on from Rome into the beyond, the city needed a place to put them. The Protestant Cemetery in the Testaccio neighbourhood became that place. For those that don't find it morbid, the cemetery is a surprisingly peaceful place in the bustling heart of Rome. A number of locals take their breaks among the trees and shrubbery to catch a quick bit of peace in their day. For those more interested in the beautiful graves, a number of Rome's famous non-Catholics are buried here including Keats, Shelley, Goethe's only son and the founder of Italian communism Gramsci.
Almost all travellers that head to Rome know only of the museums within the city limits that are devoted to its ancient history and contributions to the arts. However, Rome is still a modern city that makes history and produces art. The MURo museum is one's of the city's most fascinating contemporary museums. While Rome's ancient buildings and modern wonders are not exactly bursting with street art, the majority is reserved for MURo's open air complex within the old Quadraro neighbourhood. Since 2010, museum organizers have been inviting Rome's most talented street artists as well as some international names to come and leave their mark within MURo. They repaint the old decadent villas that would otherwise be fodder for urbanization with their unique artistic contributions for the entire world to see.
Basilica di San Clemente
Just a few minutes' walk from the Coliseum up the Via di San Giovanni in Laterano lies one of Rome's most beautiful lesser known churches. While Rome can seem like a city made completely of churches, the Basilica di San Clemente provides and airy and attractive cloister that is ripe with vibrant mosaics and animal details. While the interior of the church is refreshing in its details, its best attraction lies underground. In this Basilica, three levels of history are preserved, one right above the other. The present church that visitors walk through today was constructed in 1108, but below lays an ancient place of worship that was first mentioned by St. Jerome in 392 AD. Although this church was destroyed by the Normans, the frescos still remain intact in what is considered the basement of the present church building. Even lower still, this ancient place of worship shows signs of being used in ancient Rome's early history.
For those that really want to walk in the footsteps of Rome's history, there is only one road to take. The Appian Way was the very first paved road in Rome, built by famous Roman nobleman Appius Claudius in 312 BC. It has been named the Regina Viarium, or the 'Queen of Ways,' since ancient times not only because it was the first of its kind but because of the sepulchral monuments that used to stand at its sides. Even though modern roads of concrete and asphalt may be the way to travel in Rome today, the Appian Way still outdoes them all. It chains together beautiful landscaping, picturesque villages and Roman ruins like no other walkway in the world. To walk the entire path would take days, but even a few steps along the Appian Way means that visitors have tread the same trail of some of history's greatest dignitaries and conquerors.
Have you gotten off the tourist path in Rome?
Where did you go? Let us know - comment below!