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10 Hidden Gems in Rome, Italy, That You Can Visit for Free

Each year, the Eternal City attracts millions of travelers with its enchanting beauty and abundance of world-famous monuments. While tossing a coin into the iconic Trevi Fountain and touring the layers of the historic Colosseum are certainly must-do activities for any first-time adventurer, some of the best things to do in Rome lie just off the beaten path. Read on to discover 10 hidden gems in Rome, Italy, that you can visit for free on your next trip!

1. The Frescoed Atrium of Galleria Sciarra

The ornately decorated inner courtyard of Galleria Sciarra in Rome

Galleria Sciarra is undoubtedly one of the best hidden gems in Rome and just so happens to be nestled right around the corner from the beloved Trevi Fountain on Via Marco Minghetti. Today, this unique building contains a variety of offices, but its ornate atrium is completely free to visit. After passing through one of the unassuming entrances to the inner courtyard, you’ll find yourself surrounded by marvelous Art Nouveau decorations. There are even vivid frescoes adorning the walls that depict scenes of bourgeois life and virtues in late-19th-century society.

2. Bernini’s Breathtaking Sculpture of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni

Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, a sculptural masterpiece by Gian Lorenzo Bernini located in the Church of San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere

During the 17th century, Gian Lorenzo Bernini rose to fame as an acclaimed Baroque architect and sculptor. Even today, you can admire his many masterpieces on a tour of the Borghese Gallery or within Rome’s many squares and churches. One of his most breathtaking works entitled Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, however, remains a little-known treasure. It depicts Ludovica Albertoni, a woman who dedicated her life to helping the poor, as she has an intense spiritual vision. With such incredible attention to detail, it’s hard to believe that the sculpture is made entirely of marble!

There is no doubt that this Bernini sculpture in Trastevere is a museum-worthy masterpiece. The fact that you can admire it free of charge makes it one of the top things to do in Rome! To see it for yourself, head to the Church of San Francesco a Ripa located within Piazza di S. Francesco d’Assisi any day of the week between 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM or 4PM to 7:30 PM.

3. The Star-studded Archway of Arco dei Banchi

The bright blue, star-covered passageway of Arco dei Banchi in Rome

Arco dei Banchi is one of the hidden gems of Rome that you could easily miss if you’re not paying attention. This dreamy passageway is positioned just across the river from Castel Sant’Angelo on Via del Banco di Santo Spirito. During the 15th century, Arco dei Banchi led to the elegant courtyard of a wealthy banker named Agostino Chigi. Today, it’s notable for its bright blue, star-studded ceiling and miniature shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Fun fact: this archway also houses a plaque with an inscription recounting the water level of a flood that occurred in the year 1277!

4. The Unbeatable Views of the Colosseum from Giardinetto del Monte Oppio

Giardinetto del Monte Oppio boasts fantastic views of the Colosseum

Giardinetto del Monte Oppio is next up on our list of the top 10 things to do in Rome that are often overlooked by most travelers. What makes this quaint park truly special, is that it offers one of the best views of the Colosseum in the city. Another perk is that there aren’t usually many crowds here, allowing you to soak up the unobstructed panorama and take stunning photos. The park is only open during the day, however, so be sure to plan your itinerary accordingly.

Pro tip: for another unique view of this legendary landmark, opt for a Complete Colosseum Underground Tour to see what lies beneath the surface of the arena floor!

5. The Glowing Mosaics Within the Basilica of Santa Prassede

One of the dazzling mosaics adorning the Basilica of Santa Prassede in Rome

One of our all-time favorite hidden gems in Rome is the Basilica of Santa Prassede which is open daily from 10 AM to 12 PM and 4PM to 6:30 PM. This spellbinding church is located on Via di Santa Prassede, just steps away from the popular Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Despite its central location, Santa Prassede remains unbeknownst to many tourists, allowing you the chance to observe remarkable art and architecture in an intimate setting.

On the right side of the nave, you’ll find the revered Chapel of Saint Zeno which is covered in intricate, 9th-century Byzantine mosaics. Though you can admire the Basilica of Santa Prassede’s mosaics for free, you can also opt to pay €1 to light up the entire chapel for five minutes. It’s truly a spectacular sight to behold!

6. The Whimsical Architecture of Quartiere Coppedè

The buildings in Quartiere Coppedè appear to be straight out of a fairytale

Next up on our list is Quartiere Coppedè, a charming district that lies just off the beaten path in Rome. This whimsical neighborhood was constructed between 1915 and 1927 under the guidance of the architect Gino Coppedè. As you explore the heart of the quarter, you’ll encounter various buildings that appear to be straight out of a fairytale. Even the central Fountain of the Frogs is decorated with an eclectic theme. No ticket is required to visit Quartiere Coppedè either, making it one of the more unusual things to do in Rome on a budget!

7. Raphael’s Stunning Fresco Adorning the Church of Santa Maria della Pace

Raphael’s Sibyls fresco within the Church of Santa Maria della Pace in Rome

If you’re a fan of art, this next spot is definitely for you! The Church of Santa Maria della Pace is situated just a short walk away from Piazza Navona at Arco della Pace, 5, and is open daily from 9:30 AM to 6 PM. Here, you’ll find Raphael’s Sibyls fresco adorning the first chapel on the right side of the nave. This brilliant work serves as an incredible example of Renaissance art in Rome and is completely free to visit!

8. The Perfectly Framed View of St. Peter’s Basilica from the Aventine Keyhole

The Aventine Keyhole offers travelers an incredibly framed glimpse of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

One of the most fun things to do in Rome, Italy, is peer through the awe-inspiring Aventine Keyhole. This tiny opening can be found within the grand green doors of Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 3. After placing your eye up to the keyhole, you’ll find a picture-perfect view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica which is flawlessly framed by the surrounding garden. Note that out of all the Rome hidden gems on this list, this one has become quite well-known over the years, so it’s not uncommon for there to be a line out front.

If you do end up making your way to the Aventine Keyhole, however, we also recommend stopping at the beautiful Giardino degli Aranci, or Orange Garden, which can be found just down the road. This park on Aventine Hill features an extraordinary lookout point, making it an ideal place to watch the sunset over the skyline of the Eternal City.

9. Palazzo Venezia’s Lush Garden Courtyard

The courtyard of Palazzo Venezia features a stunning fountain at its center

As you stroll through the historic center of Rome, you’ll undoubtedly come across the imposing Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. But did you know that a hidden gem lies just across the street within Palazzo Venezia? The inner courtyard of this dignified palace features an immaculately landscaped garden complete with an elegant fountain at its center. If you’re in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets nearby, it’s a great place to sit down and relax. Most sightseers don’t realize that the Palazzo Venezia garden is open to the public, making it one of the most unique things to do in Rome for free!

10. The Impressive Baroque Architecture of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza

The Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome features a unique Baroque design

Just a stone’s throw away from Piazza Navona on Corso del Rinascimento, you’ll encounter the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. This architectural marvel was designed by the celebrated Baroque architect, Francesco Borromini, during the 17th century and is topped with an eccentric spiraling cusp. The surrounding building boasts a fascinating history as well, as it was once the seat of Rome’s oldest university, Sapienza! Though the church is only open for a few hours on Sunday mornings, the courtyard is open most days to visitors without cost.

Discover the Wonders of Rome & Vatican City on Tour with us!

Thanks for reading our guide to 10 free hidden gems in Rome, Italy! These uncharted treasures not only grant you the ability to delve into history without breaking the bank, they allow you to see a unique side of the city that few get to witness.

Looking for more fun things to see and do in Rome? Be sure to check out our beloved guided tours of Rome, our exclusive tours of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and our top-rated tours of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica!

If you have any questions or require assistance with booking one of our tours, kindly reach out to our team via email at info@whatalifetours.com or by phone at +39 06 89 111 009 and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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