Rome is a cultural mecca. There are so many things to do there. You could spend a lifetime (and a fortune) trying to conquer it all. But you don’t have to spend a king’s ransom to feel like you have experienced the real Eternal City. There are many great FREE things to enjoy in Rome, many of which include churches, museums and monuments that have been listed over and over. If you have been to Rome and exhausted the most popular sites, it may be time for something a little different. Here are some suggestions.
1. Roman Aqueducts. Ancient Romans were quite ingenious with their plumbing and baths. These structures were designed to bring spring water from the hills outside Rome, into the city center. Many of the massive archways are still standing. Acque Claudio, Acque Felice and Porte Furba are a few worth a visit.
2. Piazza Navona. An oval shaped square that is known for its three wonderfully detailed fountains, the Piazza Navona marks the site of an old Roman stadium, used for racing. Bernini’s most famous fountain, complete with an obelisk, graces the center of the square. There are many cafes that line the piazza. making it a busy and lively place to spend time both day and night. This is a great place to watch Italian life go by.
3. Visit a food market. One thing that makes Rome, Rome, is its delicious food. Wander around an outdoor market and get a feel for real Italian food and produce. The colors, the smells and the shopping ritual is a sight to behold. These markets are fun, lively and a staple of every Roman’s daily life. Artichokes the size of bowling balls, eggplants with a deep dark purple color-almost black, freshly-baked bread and perhaps even pork products with a pig’s head displayed at the stall. The market on Campo de’ Fiori is one of the best in the city.
4. Gianicolo Hill. Day or night, this is one of the lesser-known spots in Western Rome to score a breathtaking view of the city, its skyline and its many domes and towers. Located above the Trastevere neighborhood, you could join locals for a passeggiata while appreciating the jumbled multi-colored rooftops and pick out the most famous buildings you have come to know. While there, you can also check out the free puppet show and the Fountain of Gianicolo.
5. Walk the Appian Way. The Appia Antica is the oldest road in Rome and connects Rome to Capua. It was built in 312 BC, which makes it well, really old. It also makes it loaded with early Roman history. You’ll find many old decaying monuments, tombs and catacombs as well as the Church of Domine Quo Wadis. The tomb of Cecelia Metella is one of the most impressive. Sundays are the most peaceful day to go as car traffic is prohibited.
6. Torre Argentina. Cats have always overrun the city of Rome and taken refuge in the ancient ruins of the city. Now there is a place in the city where a cat sanctuary was created. Over 250 cats are cared for by volunteers among Roman temples dating back to 400 B.C. Whether you are a cat lover, or not, it is a unique experience you won’t forget.
7. Mouth of Truth. The Bocca della Verità, the mouth of truth in Italian, is kinda touristy, but a fun attraction all the same. Located in the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmiden, it is thought to have been an old Greek drain cover. Like Audrey and Gregory, who made it famous in a scene from ‘Roman Holiday’, you too can put your hand in the mouth of the strange carved face. Legend has it that if you tell a lie while your hand is in the mouth, your hand will be chomped off.
So, what are some of your favorite free and different things to do in Rome?
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And until next week, Happy Travels!