Rome, Italy - 14 Secret and Unusual Rome Places That You Should know

 
A view of ceiling of Sciarra Gallery.jpg
 

Get to know some of the lesser known hidden gems of Rome! Francesco from online and app travel company "Blinktravel.guide" takes us through some of the secret spots that you don't always find out about until after you've been. This is a must read for anyone visiting Rome!

 

Contributor:
Francesco

Nationality:
Italian

Social Links:
www.blinktravel.guide

Age Group:
 

Gender:
Male

Travel Style:
Casual
Sightseeing, photography

 

Destination: Rome, Italy

Who doesn't know Rome? Who doesn't know its most iconic landmarks? The Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, Piazza di Spagna and the Trevi Fountain are famous all over the world and are visited by millions of tourists all year long.

Nonetheless the capital of Italy has a few hidden gems to offer: unusual corners, often not widely known to Romans themselves. Quieter, more intimate places which will enrich your idea of the Eternal City.

Here is a careful and fun selection of the 14 most charming yet little known places in Rome:

A view from Gianicolo.jpg

1. Sciarra Gallery

Built in 1880 by prince Matteo Sciarra, it is the finest Art Nouveau building in Rome today. The Gallery is located in a side street of Via del Corso (the main street of the city) and almost manages to hide its beauty.

The leading role in the decorations is played by the Woman, portrayed in various scenes of daily life in her roles of bride, mother and “angel at the hearth”.

The upper layer shows more figures of women, representing the feminine virtues of fidelity, humility and justness.

You'll be left staring up at this jaw-dropping wonder for quite some time.

 
Ceiling of the Sciarra Gallery

Ceiling of the Sciarra Gallery

 

2. Magic Door (map)

In Rome (the very capital of Christianity) you can find one of the few monuments in the world dedicated to medieval magic: the “Magic Door” is all that remains of the ancient Villa Palombara. The marquis of Pietraforte, an alchemy and esotericism enthusiast, had the villa built in the second half of the 17th century.

In origin the monument was one among five external entryways to the Villa.

Legend has it that a mysterious pilgrim, hosted in the marquis' villa, tried to transmute various materials into gold.

One day he was seen disappearing through the door, leaving behind a speck of gold and some magic formulas, which are now engraved on the perimeter of the door.

3. Casina delle Civette (map)

Between 1910 and 1925, at the height of the Art Nouveau artistic movement (known in Italy as Stile Liberty), a small group of artists turned an ancient chalet into the current Museo della Vetrata Liberty (Art Nouveau Stained Glass Museum).  

Its peculiar shape, peaked roofs and its huge and colorful stained glasses confer to the place an almost magical atmosphere. Like a real life rendition of Hansel and Gretel's house!

 
Casina delle Civette

Casina delle Civette

 
A decorated glass inside of Casina Delle Civette

A decorated glass inside of Casina Delle Civette

4. Casino Nobile (map)

Only a short walk away from Casina delle Civette you can find the Casino Nobile, Mussolini's residence between 1925 and 1943; he also had a gas-proof bunker and a bomb shelter be built here.  

Inside, beside the collection of statues, you can see the majestic ballroom, a beautiful garden and the wonderful terrace.

5.  Angelica Library (map)

Inaugurated in 1604, Biblioteca Angelica is the oldest public library in Italy and the second in Europe after Oxford.  

The library houses more than 200,000 volumes, with 2,700 ancient manuscripts dating from Greek and Latin times among them. 

Its position makes it even more fascinating, as it is located in downtown Rome and it represents one of the few corners of calm and quiet in the popular and chaotic Italian capital.

Statue inside the Angelica Library

Statue inside the Angelica Library

6.  District Coppedè (map)

District Coppedè is an amazing mixture of Art Nouveau and Art Deco with flashes of other art styles, such as Greek, Gothic, Baroque and even medieval.  

The district, built between 1913 and 1926, consists of 26 apartment houses and 17 villas and owes its name to its designer, Gino Coppedè.  

In the center of the district is a small square in which stands the “Fountain of the Frogs” (“Fontana delle Rane”); the Beatles once dove fully dressed in the fountain after a concert held at the nearby disco Piper, making the monument famous worldwide.

7.     Borghese gallery (map)

Located inside Villa Borghese, the Romans' favorite public park, it represents a true treasure chest, housing the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The man had the villa built in 1600 for this specific purpose.

The most famous works kept here are Lorenzo Bernini's sculptures and Caravaggio's masterpieces. Thanks to its position and its works of art it can be considered among the world's finest museums.

P.S. If you want enter the gallery we recommend you to book your visit about three months in advance.

 
A statue inside The Borghese Gallery

A statue inside The Borghese Gallery

 
 
The ceiling inside The Borghese Gallery

The ceiling inside The Borghese Gallery

 
 
The garden of Borghese Gallery

The garden of Borghese Gallery

 

8.  The Catacombs of Rome

Experts deem the six Catacombs of Rome to be among the finest in the world; the best-known and most visited of them is the Catacomb of St. Callixtus, which stands out as the most beautiful and imposing.

It represents the first burial site of early Christians and it houses the graves of the first sixteen popes and various saints.

Roman Catacombs

Roman Catacombs

9.  The Jewish Ghetto (map)

Built in 1555, the Jewish Ghetto of Rome is one of the oldest in the world.

Strolling through the small streets of the district it will look like time has frozen in the '40s: as a matter of fact the Ghetto holds its authenticity intact, despite the influence of mass tourism. The majestic Synagogue and the Portico of Octavia are landmarks of major importance to be found in the district.

A view of Synagogue inside the Jewish Ghetto

A view of Synagogue inside the Jewish Ghetto

The Roman ruins inside the Jewish Ghetto

The Roman ruins inside the Jewish Ghetto

10.  The Janiculum (map)

The Janiculum (Gianicolo) is one of the best observation points of Rome, with Monte Mario and the Pincian Hill (Pincio), offering a wonderful view over the roofs, ancient ruins and baroque cupolas of the city.

Fun fact: from 1847, as ordered by Pope Pius IX, a cannon fires blanks daily at midday sharp. In doing so the Pope wanted to set a standard for all the churches in Rome to ring their bells in unison.

A view from Gianicolo

A view from Gianicolo

The walk inside Gianicolo

The walk inside Gianicolo

11.  The Japanese Garden (map)

As odd as it may sound, in the center of Rome, the very cradle of Christianity and the heart of the western world, we can find a small Japanese garden designed by famous architect Ken Nakajima.

Regardless of its small area, the Garden contains all the elements of a traditional Japanese garden: a pond, a waterfall, rocks, small islands, a small bridge and the stone lantern called tōrō.

The Japanese Garden.jpg

12. Roseto sull’Aventino (map)

At the foot of the Aventine Hill (Aventino), one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome, lies one of the most romantic locations of the city: the Rose Garden.

Already blessed by the beauty of nature and its position, granting a wonderful viewpoint over the Circo Massimo and the Palatine Hill at a safe distance from the city traffic, the Garden gets even more amazing in May, when 1100 species of roses blossom in a triumph of colors and fragrances.

Such a wonderful place will leave you with your mouth wide open!

 
A view from above of Roseto sull’Aventino

A view from above of Roseto sull’Aventino

 

13.  Little London (map)

Inside one of the historic districts of Rome we can find a pleasant architectonic oddity: Little London.

It consists of a pedestrian-only private street with the typical London-style small houses in bright colors, the same you'd expect to find in Hotting Hill.

Mayor Ernesto Nathan, of English origin, fathered the idea of an “English” district in 1907. His intent was to build less expensive houses away from downtown in behalf of the common people. Nowadays, as one could easily expect, these houses have extremely high costs, exactly as in London.

 
The small but cool little London in Rome

The small but cool little London in Rome

 

14.  Dolls' Hospital (map)

Walking through downtown Rome, near Piazza del Popolo, it is hard to miss the unique window of the ancient workshop Restauri Artistici Squatriti, also known as the Dolls' Hospital.

The small workshop is crowded with heads, limbs and bodies of ancient dolls, waiting to be accurately “cured” by the expert artisans of the shop.

As you can see Rome is amazing, we tried to make a list of the 14 secret places but, if you go to Rome, I recommend you to wandering around and speak with the locals because every angle and every history is unique.


If you can't go to Rome (or Sicily, New York, London etc. ) we do that for you. We created blinktravel.guide, a site (and an iphone app) through which you can discover the authentic spots of the most beautiful city in the world.

 

 

 

New York, USA - A week in the Big Apple

 
 

How to spend a week in the "city that never sleeps". Ryan describes himself as an "anything goes" traveller, so read about how he goes in NYC!

 

Contributor:
Ryan

Nationality:
South Africa

Social Links:
Instagram: @ryanscott.33

Age Group:
30 - 40 years

Gender:
Male

Travel Style:
All styles

 

Destination: NYC May 2017 for 1 week

 
 

Inspiration:

I've visited NYC a handful of times, but never in the spring. Every visit has been a good one, but I've always been curious to be there when it’s warmer. Not so much the humid sweaty summer, rather, a fresh spring dose of NYC energy for the change of seasons after the biting cold of winter. And beware that winter bite, it can get really intense when those relentless razor blade winds cut through your under equipped winter gear while cruising the streets of Manhattan. And what about the High-Line, it's just not the same in winter with no cheerful greenery around to pretty-up New York's walkway in the sky. So when the opportunity came to return to NYC in May, I packed swim trunks and flew from Cape Town to JFK, ready for a fresh look.

Getting There:

The 16 hour flight from South Africa is not as bad as some make out. SAA fly direct and I have often had enough seats to stretch my legs out enough for a good sleep option. Arriving early in the morning is always a good thing as those immigration lines can get nasty. Getting a ride into Manhattan from the airport is not ideal, as you hit the rush hour of those scrumming to get to Manhattan to earn their dollars. Once in Manhattan though, for your first day at least, time becomes a secondary consideration as the many NYC sensations take over and create a world of loud and surreal experiences.

Local Knowledge:

Having been to Manhattan a few times, I know my way around and enjoy exploring on foot, but this time I decided to brave the CitiBike system - and what a pleasure it was. It costs about $12 a day and you can ride for up to 30min before having to return your two wheeler to one the many CitiBike stations. It's never a problem finding one, they are as prevalent as a carguard* in Cape Town - everywhere! I rode all over the island and at least once a day that included peddling over a bridge. Either the Williamsburg or Brooklyn bridges are perfect for a cruisy ride, with great views and integrated feel of being very much a part of the city, as a bonus to your travel solution. The app is a huge help too and this quickly became my preferred mode of transport. It's such a pity we don't have that at home in South Africa, unfortunately the upkeep and durability would never survive in Africa, but I'm psyched to use the same systems in London, Paris and other cities that use this healthy option of moving about the city.

Where To Stay:

Accommodation is always going to be expensive in Manhattan, no matter what option you choose. I’ve stayed all over the show in different AirBnB options. Prices have increased markedly over the last 5 years. A pullout sofa I stayed on near Washington Sq in 2012 is now more than double what I paid for it back then. This time I was drawn to the LIFE Hotel. It’s the original building that the famous publication and brand ran their business from and conveniently situated midtown, although convenience did not come with any charm. The area is around Korea Town and not the best place to hangout in Manhattan. After a couple of nights in the hotel, I moved across the East River to an AirBnB in Williamsburg. The view of the skyline gives a whole new perspective to a NYC stay, the prices drop and the vibe is less touristy and there is always something happening in the neighbourhood. 
At night, head to N 10th St, the buzz around the restaurants and cocktail bars (hit the Wythe Hotel for rooftop cocktails and view of Manhattan skyline) is brilliant. I could recommend late night spots, but things move quickly and the flavor of the week will have changed by the time you read this. There are a lot of cool clubs to choose from when it gets to around 10pm or 11pm.

What To Do:

It's interesting to try and plan a to-do list for NYC, but the reality is, once you get there, just tap into the flow of the city and decide what feels best on the day. I happened to be there for the opening of the NYC Ballet season...they call it the Spring Gala and I would not have bought a ticket if I was planning the trip beforehand, but while in the area, I noticed some buzz around setting up a red carpet at the theater, checked out what was happening, and managed to buy a ticket for the evening event. The night before I had been at a Puma event and met two of the ballerinas of the NYC ballet troop, so I was keen to see them do their thing on the stage. 
There is always something to do, but I like to search out those little nuggets that present themselves in the moment, just keep an eye open and use the many apps and websites to assist you with 'whats on' while you are there.

Eating:

My favourite meals are lunch times around the East Village. Chelsea Market is also cool, but the quirky little spots of the East Village are less well known and warmly welcoming. It’s great to see the trends of the world unfolding over the counter and on the sidewalks of these little places, and sometimes, being created. I bought a radical shirt on a market sidewalk from a guy who clearly loves his craft, ate Pizza slices once the queue had died down from a nondescript hole in the wall, and sat and sipping some kind of frappacuppalattecino while people-watching the unabated conversations happening all around me. The attitude down here still seems NYC-proud, but not as brash and loud as other parts of decibel filled city.

Must Do:

I always do a bit of work in NYC and my favourite place to find a quiet spot that has something more than just the quintessential coffee shop, is the NYC Library. The Rose Room has reopened so I plugin and use the wifi to create my own NYC hot desk in the most studious of settings. In Spring, the lush green grass of Bryant Park backs onto the library and is the best place to chill out with locals and tourists alike. In summer it comes alive with vibrant action on the permanent concrete table-tennis tables, crooners busting out some tunes on the piano and people sharing lunch and ice-creams while soaking up some sun in one of the rare open spaces just off uptown 5th Avenue.

Must See:

I've never done a heli-flip over the city, but I really enjoy seeing it from the water. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is by sail. I noticed @Classicharborline while doing a Instagram search and realised right away that I would not settle for anything less than one of their perfectly crafted fleet. Pick a good day of sunny weather and take to the water in style.

 
 

Number 1 Travel Tip:

Skip the big brands you can experience in other cities. There are so many unique places to shop and eat in NYC, so rather explore something new.

5 Word Travel:

I didn't need swim shorts

Dubrovnik, Croatia - Game of Thrones

 

Contributor  : Elise
Nationality   : Australian
Instagram    @elisejbutler
Age Group   : 19-30 yo
Gender         : Female
Trave Style   : All :)
Destination  : Dubrovnik, Croatia
Date              : Middle of July 2016 for 4 days and 3 nights

Inspiration:
We went to many Island around Croatia and thought it was only fit to visit the capital city. Saw many amazing pictures lots of people said how amazing it is. 

Getting There:
We drove from Split which is about 3 hours away, however it is very easy to fly there. However you cant fly to Dubrovnik from Dubai. 

Local Knowledge:
Where Game of Thrones was filmed! 
Beautiful old city surrounded by the a giant wall which was built in the 13th centuary to protect to city. Stunning location on the cliff tops, reasonable prices, great food and amazing views.

Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Rixos Hotel which is just outside the main square/old town, because the old town is extremly busy and hotels are a lot smaller. However it was only about a 10 -15 minute walk. 

What To See & Do:
We did lots of walking around the old town as there is a lot to see. Dubrovnik’s old town is surrounded by defensive 2 kilometer wall and forts which you can walk around. The walls were built to protect the city in the 13th century. The views are amazing and there are many quant shops and cafes to visit. Another must do to get that perfect scenery shot is the Cable Car, which over looks the whole city. There are also many day boat tours out to different islands which is a great way to see the coast, do some snorkeling and swim in the clear blue waters. Driving around the coast is also another great way to see the city and we even drove to Montenegro. For all those Game of Thrones fans there are many tours as it was filmed in Dubrovnik

Where To Eat:
There are so many restaurants to choose from in the main square. The seafood is amazing, very fresh and cheap. 

Must Do:
Visit the old town, could differently spend a whole day there

Must See:
Scenary, panaromic view over the cliffs and old town


5 Word Travel:
Stunning scenary and delicious food