Your Guide to the Underrated Places in Rome
Rome is unquestionably one of the most beautiful cities in the world with millions of tourists from all corners of the globe coming to admire the architectural and cultural wonders. But there’s more to see apart from the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Vatican. Rome — The Eternal City offers places where you can get out of the crowd and appreciate the city’s other side.
Check out our guide of the underrated places in Rome worthy of visit.
Visit to the Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory
Located inside the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore, the Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory is home to artifacts that are said to be singed by the fiery hands of souls in purgatory. According to Catholic teachings, the soul is trapped in the purgatory until it atones for its remaining sins before it enters Heaven, but through the prayers of their loved ones on earth, it hastens the soul’s ascension to heaven.
The collection may be small (just in one glass case), but the display of objects will definitely leave you intrigued. See a book with a hand print on it from a deceased priest and another book belonging to a woman whose mother-in-law appeared to her and asked for a mass in her honor.
Other curiosities include finger prints and hand prints on night caps, shirt sleeves, prayer book and even on a wooden table.
Finding peace at the Protestant Cemetery
Speaking of souls, the Protestant Cemetery of Rome is one of the oldest burial grounds in continuous use in Europe that was used for the burials of non-Catholic and foreigners who died in Rome. Noted by Oscar Wilde as the “holiest place in Rome”, see notable final resting places of the two English Romantic poets, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as Italian Communist leader Antonio Gramsci, Italian novelist Carlo Emilio Gadda, American sculptor William Wetmore Story buried under an Angel of Grief and so many more.
The Protestant Cemetery also provides a quiet escape from the usual bustle of Roman streets with its towering Mediterranean cypress trees, flowers and grassy meadow.
Apart from the graves, you can also get a glimpse of the Pyramid of Cestius and the ancient Aurelian Wall.
Make friends with the feline community at Torre Argentina
Since time immemorial, the Gatti di Roma or Cats of Rome have found their rightful place in the grand ruins of Torre Argentina. Cat lovers, as well as animal lovers in general, will surely have a good time roaming around where the stray felines can be seen sunbathing on the ancient ruins and steps.
You can also visit their Cat Sanctuary where volunteers have pampered the cats by feeding and giving special attention especially those blind, physically disabled and old ones.
You can also adopt a cat through their Distant Adoption program where you can sponsor a cat (kitty food, litters, health care) through your donation while the staff will give you frequent updates on your sponsored cat.
Aside from cat viewing, Torre Argentina is also famous as the spot of Julius Caesar’s assassination, specifically in the Curia of the Theater of Pompey believed to be in the ruins.
Have an architectural blast at Quartiere Coppede
Feast your eyes in an unexpected architectural fantasy offered by the Quartier Coppede‘s complex group of buildings designed by architect Gino Coppede. Appreciate the mishmash of historic styles featuring Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Medieval, Manieristic and Italian Art Nouveau seen in 26 small palazzo and 17 detached buildings.
Stroll along the Piazza Mincio and keep an eye on the Fontana delle Rane or the Fountain of the Frogs, where the Beatles have taken a dip after their performance at the Piper club.
Other highlights include the Palazzo del Ragno, Villino del Fate, the dramatic arched entrance way with an iron chandelier, shrine with Madonna and Child, and many more interesting sights.
Because of its bizarre charm, Quartiere Coppede has been used as a setting for some films like the Inferno and The Bird with Crystal Plumage.
See statues among machines at Centrale Montemartini
Not your usual museum, the Centrale Montemartini houses part of Capitoline Museum’s collection of ancient Greek and Roman statues in the first electric power station in the city. Experience the “Olympian calm” as the curators would describe the atmosphere and see the classical marble sculptures (think Athena, Aphrodite Hera, Achilles and others) admirably co-exist with old machinery, a striking contrast that makes your visit truly unforgettable.
The museum also houses objects found from several excavation works including segments of temples, villas, tombs and monuments, as well as beautiful mosaics from a garden on one of Rome’s fabled hills.
Don’t miss out the glimpses of early 20th century Rome gearing for industrialization and modernization through the two hulking diesel motors constructed by the Tosi firm in 1933, preserved turbines and steam boilers.
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