If you’ve visited Rome before, you’ve probably chipped away at your to-do list. You’ve thrown your wishes into the Trevi Fountain, snacked on a heaping bowl of carbonara, looked up in wonder at the Colosseum and waved hello to the Pope in Vatican City. But with 28 centuries of history and culture – this city has more to offer than the top five tourist attractions.
Whether it’s world-renowned architecture, stunning neighbourhoods, or you just didn’t get enough of the food and wine, there’s sure to be experiences you missed during your first Roman holiday. So pack your bags and find your next flight back to Rome because there’s even more to see the second time around.
Wander around Trastevere at night
Wander Rome’s quintessential winding streets without your luggage and stop into a nearby bar for creative cocktails. There, you can chat with friendly locals or relax with one of the best glasses of wine you’ve ever tasted. Experiencing this area at night is something really magical as the evening kicks off with a colourful sunset and the streets come to life with twinkling lights, good conversation and clinking glasses.
Look for the Madonnelle
One of the best things about Rome is the clash of ancient and modern architecture. Walking around the city for the first time can be incredibly overwhelming – with so much to see, it’s easy to miss the charming details. Did you notice the Madonnelle, or miniature Madonnas, found on many street corners throughout the city? These mini Madonna statues vary in size and material, providing a free open-air museum or scavenger hunt to explore and admire at your own pace.
Visit a cat sanctuary
Many of the cats in Rome live amongst ancient ruins, making for a bizarre and lively exhibit of history. Visit Torre Argentina, where stray cats started taking over the ancient ruins back in the 1920s before it was turned into a cat sheltering project. Now the cats are cared for, vaccinated and put up for adoption, all whilst napping on ruins of roman architecture. Another cat sanctuary can be found in one of the city’s hidden gems – the Non-Catholic Cemetery, where ornate graves (including that of poet John Keats) sit amongst lush greenery.
Spend time at Villa Borghese
Not everyone takes the time to visit (or is able to get tickets) to Villa Borghese. Tickets to this coveted art collection can sell out months in advance, so you should plan and book your visit well in advance to reserve your spot. From ancient masters to modern savants, the impressive collection has something for all art lovers. And the sculptural works by Bernini leave breathtaking surprises around every corner. If you’re unable to get tickets, the gardens outside the palace are also worth a visit.
Visit Villa Doria Pamphili
If you’re up for another villa, make time for a visit to Villa Doria Pamphili. While Rome may not typically conjure images of spacious fields, here you’ll find the largest landscaped public park in Rome. Located a short distance from the city centre in the Monteverde neighbourhood, pack a picnic and some wine, and dine in a wildflower field overlooking the city.
Experience movie magic at Cinecittà Studios
You don’t need to be a film buff to visit the world-famous Cinecittà Studios, the largest film studio in Europe, housing sets from television shows like HBO’s “Rome” and the 2008 “Doctor Who” series set in Pompeii. You won’t be disappointed with this action-filled afternoon. Plus, you’ll be standing right where famous filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese spent their days directing.
Enjoy Cucina Romana
Of course, you ate pasta on your first visit, but there may be a few staple dishes you missed out on. Nobody does pasta like Italians, but Roman pasta has its own twist on the classic noodle. Fresh seasonal pasta with a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano is the essence of a traditional Roman dish. Instead of Carbonara, try a dish like ‘cacio e pepe,’ a simple dish that literally translates to ‘cheese and pepper’.
Take photos at the Knights of Malta Keyhole
You might have seen the dome of St Peter’s Basilica up close and personal on your last visit, but this view is one of a kind. Located on Aventine Hill, the small keyhole offers a unique view of St Peter’s surrounded by lush greenery. Make sure to go on a clear day so you don’t miss the view. Not only is the scenery incredible, but it’s also one of the last locations of the order of Knights found in Italy.
Explore the Borromini Churches
Rome has a lot of beautiful cathedrals to explore, and chances are you probably set foot in multiple well-known churches on your last visit. But in the process, you may have missed out on some of the most spectacular hidden gems designed by Francesco Borromini, a Baroque-style architect and master of designing small churches.
Visit San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and gaze up at the kaleidoscope-like domed ceiling, or head to Sant’Ivo della Sapienza, which is hidden in plain sight behind the walls of Palazzo alla Sapienza.
Indulge your senses at Campo de’ Fiori
This colourful open-air market is bustling with people and vendors selling a variety of wares from produce to clothing. Take in the wafting smells of fresh olive oils, fruits and sweets. It’s important to say yes to every meal while you’re in Rome, and local dried tomatoes are a must. These market delights, with their sweet and unexpected aftertaste, prove that tomatoes really are a fruit.
Before you leave, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure another return – since there will certainly be things you’ll miss even on your second visit.