One of the lesser known sights is San Clemente, a pretty 11th century church. Stairs lead you down to the remains of a 4th century basilica, which was devastated by Northmanns. Via another pair of stairs you arrive at a Roman house from the 2th century, that served as a shrine for Mithras.
Hubert Scharnagl (Austria):
Rome is one of my favourite cities, it has an incredible number of historical monuments and despite the crowds of tourists, it is an enchanting and exciting capital. I have visited Rome several times, usually only for a short stay, but in November 2013, we spent five days in Rome. We had seen the main tourist sights on previous visits, and thus we had plenty of time to explore the city without haste and to visit also some of the lesser known sites.
A few suggestions that might be interesting for visitors who have time for more than just the Top Ten sights:
First: the three papal basilicas San Paolo fuori le Mura, Santa Maria Maggiore, and San Giovanni in Laterano (St. Peter's is the fourth). Of these, I was most impressed by San Paolo, even more than by St. Peter's, though the basilica is relatively new. It was rebuilt after a fire in the mid-19th century. The large and almost empty nave is amazing, it has a length of 130 meters and four rows of columns. The name of the basilica is derived from its location outside the ancient Aurelian walls, today it is a rather insignificant neighbourhood. It is easy to get to by public transport, it is right next to the metro station Basilica San Paolo. I also liked San Giovanni in Laterano, most striking are the huge statues of the twelve apostles in the nave. The Lateran complex includes also the Lateran Baptistery, the Scala Sancta and the Triclinium of Pope Leo III.
Next on our list: the three churches with works by Caravaggio, the enigmatic Baroque painter known for his brilliant use of chiaroscuro (strong contrasts of light and dark). A must see, not only for art enthusiasts, is San Luigi dei Francesi with three paintings in a side chapel. The church is close to Piazza Navona, there are always many tourists, but nevertheless a stunning impression. The two other churches with Caravaggio paintings are Santa Maria del Popolo (Piazza del Popolo) and Sant’Agostino in Campo Marzio (close to Piazza Navona). In Rome, admission to churches is free, but they found a clever way to earn some money: you have to insert 50 Cents to switch the lights on for a few minutes to see the paintings.
A bit off the beaten track: the Baths of Caracalla, located in a nice park in the south of the WHS core zone. Although only the walls have been preserved, the sequence of the rooms is still visible and the sheer size of this huge leisure complex is amazing.
The Tempietto di Bramante, a lovely little Renaissance chapel, only a short walk from Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, but easy to miss, because it is hidden in the courtyard of the monastery San Pietro in Montorio.
Of course, we visited also our favourite places: the Pantheon, in my opinion the most outstanding building in Rome, Trastevere at night, and the Campo de' Fiori in the morning with a nice food market popular with tourists and locals
And finally my favourite building in Rome: the Baroque church Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza (photo). My first visit was just by chance, I followed a group of tourists through a rather inconspicuous portal. Then I stood in a courtyard with two-storey arcades and was surprised to find such a quiet place in the heart of Rome, right next to Piazza Navona. The architecture is unique in almost every respect. The façade was embedded in the previously existing courtyard of the Palazzo della Sapienza and therefore it has a concave shape. The dome is crowned by a squiggly spiral-shaped tower. And the interior is also unusual, the floor plan is constructed from an equilateral triangle, the sides have semicircular bulges and the angles are cut off. This results in a complex shape of the dome with alternating convex and concave segments that gradually converts the floor plan into a perfect circle at the top of the dome. Unfortunately, the church is open only on Sunday morning.
As Ian Cade quoted in his review: Rome, a lifetime is not enough. There is nothing more to add.
Date posted: December 2014 Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
Rome, the eternal city, probably deserves an eternal life to get to know it as it corresponds. The city is most historical, romantic, beautiful… Rome is a precious jewel, a wonder of wonders.
One of the places that I first visited in Rome (the first one was the Vatican City), was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, whose sponsors used to be the Spanish kings (our present king, Juan Carlos I, is today an honorary canonical of the Cathedral chapter of that Basilica, and we receive liturgical honors plus preces for our Monarchy).
In one side off that Basilica you can see a statue devoted to our Hapsburg King Felipe IV, whose designer was Bernini.
Another place that I first saw in Rome, after the Coliseum, was the Obelisk of Axum, today back in Axum.
But the dearer place to me was the Via Condoti
In this historical street you will find the Military and Sovereign Order of Malta, The Trinitarian Order, and the lovely Piazza di Spagna (at the end) with the church Trinità dei Monti.
The square is so called because is shelters the first Embassy erected in Rome, that of Spain.
The Trinitarians is a XII century Order whose members (mainly monks) travel to liberate slaves around the world, even today, in countries such as Colombia, Mauritania, Sudan, etc. Their Head Quarters are in Madrid.
The Trinitarians liberated our national writer Miguel de Cervantes from the jail in Alger after paying 500 escudos.
Date posted: September 2013 Clyde (Malta):
I visited this WHS several times. Rome is rightly known as the Eternal City. It can keep you busy for a whole month of sightseeing and you would still be missing something! Needless to say you cannot miss the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trajan's Column, Fori Imperiali, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, and St. Peter's Basilica. Not only one of Italy's top WHS but indeed one of the world's top WHS!
Date posted: September 2012 john booth (New Zealand):
Having visited Rome previously on several occasions and seen all the prominent tourist sights, this year I decided to seek out the more obscure sites included in the WHS inscription.
My first call was the church of San Paolo Fuore la Mura, a monster church beside a metro station in SW Rome.
The rest of the day I spent touring the palazzi, mausolea and churches listed as properties of the Holy See enjoying extraterratorial rights.
Of the churches, San Giovanni in Laterano was lavish and splendid, as also was Santa Maria Maggiore. Santa Maria in Trastevere was rather shabby and insignificant by comparison.
Augustus' mausoleum was a rather insignificant ruin, while Hadrian's was concealed within the Castel Sant Angelo.
The Palaces varied from the shabby and neglected to the pristine serving as museums and offices. My favourite was the Palazzo delle Cancelleria in Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II, where the courtyards housed a collection of Leonardo da Vincio's Big Machines. Another architecturally pleasing example was the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide in the Piazza di Spagna.
Date posted: September 2011 James Kovacs (USA): Rome has magnificent monuments (Coliseum, Constantine
Arch, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, etc.) and I was
impressed by every one of them. My problem with Rome
isn't the monuments, but the city itself. It is way
too chaotic and frantic for my liking. It has an itensity
that gets on your nerves after a few days.
Date posted: February 2006 Ian Cade (England):
Very few cities in the world can claim to be a capital of their cultural sphere, even fewer have something left to show for it. Rome can claim to be a cultural capital twice! and has plenty to show for it.
Rome contains some of the best preserved sites from antiquity, when it was a world power and laid much of the foundation for western culture. The Coliseum is perhaps the most famous testament from this period, and its huge remains are a great place to start exploring ‘Ancient Rome’. Included in the admission price is entry to the Palatine Hill opposite, which was a nice place to stroll through and look at the massive remains, and provided great views across the city and down onto the Forum, which I think was my favourite part of ancient Rome, well it was until that night I stumbled upon the Pantheon in the tight streets of the historic centre. This building for me was one of the most spectacular I have ever been to, the dome is a masterpiece of architecture.
Then the second time Rome became a cultural capital was with the High Renaissance and Baroque periods. The High Renaissance perhaps best seen at Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio and also much of the work at the Vatican. The Baroque period is seen through out the historic centre, the works of Borromini, Bernini and their contemporaries line almost every street, and this is what made the city so enjoyable that just walking between the ‘big’ sites (Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona were particularly great) provided you with other masterpieces that would be highlights in most other cities. This was also mixed with great bars (in Trastevere especially) and restaurants, and the city managed to not feel like a museum or a theme park.
I was here for two days and did not stop, I can understand the saying "Roma, non basta una vita" (Rome, a lifetime is not enough). This so far is the finest UNESCO site I have visited and I am looking forward to something being good enough to knock it off its perch, it is going to take an awful lot.
Date posted: November 2005 Ben Pastore (USA):
Rome isn't the eternal city for nothing. The juxtaposition of imperial remnants and modern technology are classically Italian and only serve to highlight the city's historic value. The Colisseum has found a better use as a tourist magnet than Christian slaughterhouse, and the tiny details, like bas-relief in the architecture and masterful wrought-iron railings leaves no doubt as to why all roads once lead here.
Date posted: June 2005 Klaus Freisinger (Austria):
Rome is in my humble opinion the greatest city on the planet. While I like many others as well, none comes close to Rome in terms of history, culture, architecture, and influence on the rest of the world. This together with all things that make Italy such a great place to visit - especially the food, of course - makes a combination that I don´t think can be beaten anywhere. For a visitor, Rome´s sights generally fall in two categories: Christendom and Antiquity, with some great Renaissance/Baroque monuments thrown in (Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps etc.) For both, Rome is the top place to visit (sorry, Athens, you are fascinating, too, but Rome was not called caput mundi for nothing). The Forum Romanum is just incredible, and the Colosseum, the Triumphal Arches, and the many other smaller ancient monuments (Augustus Mausoleum and the very cool Mamertine Prison, for example) should excite even people who usually have no interest in ancient history (if that is at all possible...). So while of the some things that are said about Rome are admittedly true (smog, heavy traffic, many strikes, enormous masses of tourists), who really cares? It´s Rome, and it´s a huge mistake not to see it at least once.
Graeme Ramshaw () Graeme Ramshaw ()::
Rome is a city of a myriad different characters, where the best of the Classical world and the Baroque era come together to form a fascinating array of art found nowhere else in the world. Some of my personal highlights include: the Galleria Borghese with its Bernini sculptures, the Palatine hill with its imperial ruins, and the Trastevere with its warren of streets all worth exploring. Rome is absolutely unique and entirely unmissable on any trip to Italy.
Graeme Ramshaw () Graeme Ramshaw ()::
What to say of Rome? It's a city of a thousand different characters, where the best of Baroque and of Classical intertwine to form a fascinating array of art and architecture found nowhere else in the world. Rome is absolutely unique. Some highlights for me include the Galleria Borghese (best of Bernini sculptures), the Palatine Hill (home of the emperors), and the Vatican Museums (simply some of the best art in the world). Regardless of the number of visits you make to Rome, each time you will find something new and wonderful to explore.
Maurizio Agostini (Italy): Rome has a lot of things to see. Churches, squares, palaces. Inside the city there is the Vatican State. It has not an historical centre; like London. It is formed by several zones.
Have you been to Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura ? Share your experiences!