7 Unexpected And Unforgettable Attractions In Rome

1. Pyramid Of Caius Cestius

An Egyptian Pyramid Dating To Roman Times


The pyramid stands across the road from the old city gate, Porta San Paolo, which was a southern entrance to Rome in the 3rd century, looking much older but in reality younger than the pyramid.

2. Castel Sant’Angelo

Courtyard Of Cannonballs


What is amazing though, is that the cannonballs are made from marble. But, I guess, when in Rome. After all, the buildings all around are made from marble, the Ponte Sant’Angelo is made from marble, and marble is quarried not that far away, so why not use what you have in abundance?

Pro Tip
For the Castel, there are two queues: for those with tickets and those without. The one for “without” is amazingly quick and efficient, allowing you a bit of flexibility about when you might want to pop in.

3. Free Caravaggios

There are six Caravaggios you can see for free


One in Sant‘Agostino, three in San Luigi dei Francesi, and two further ones in the lovely Santa Maria del Popolo on Piazza del Popolo.

I say they are free to see, but each is displayed in the dark to preserve the paint, and by putting either one or two euro coins in a box, the light comes on and you can view the magnificent paintings for a couple of minutes beautifully lit up.

4. National Roman Museum — Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

A Risqué Unfinished Statue


Please don’t think that this is the most important exhibit in this fantastic museum, but it is one to make you giggle. You’ll find it just opposite the mosaic of the scared cat eating a bird on the ground floor.

5. Santa Maria In Cosmedin

Bocca Della Verita


Did you watch Roman Holiday, the 1953 film with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck?

The Bocca della Verita, the “Mouth of Truth,” is a 2,200-year-old face with an open mouth, and legend has it that if you put your hand in and tell a lie, the hand would be bitten off, just as Gregory Peck pretended had happened to him.

6. Isola Tiberina

Once it was the seat of a temple to Asclepius, the Greek — not Roman — god of medicine


Visit around sunset time — when there are street musicians and the light is truly spectacular, enhancing the ancient buildings to perfection — and have an aperitivo or a plate of pasta at Tiberino on the island.

7. Aventine Keyhole

Priory of the Knights of Malta.


Just a few minutes’ walk uphill (steep, but steady and easy) from the Pyramid of Caius Cestius.

The Keyhole of the Knights of Malta. With the location chosen for its views — then not to be enjoyed over an aperitivo, but rather useful for defense purposes — it goes without saying that there are some sights to be seen.

Pro Tip
You can enter the gardens, although only by appointment. I wonder if this would take some of the magic away from just peeping through the keyhole. Let me know if you ever go in.

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