Want to get away from the crowds and experience Rome the way locals do? Then take a look at our list of top non-touristy things to do in Rome.
Eat at a local’s house
Having a meal at a local’s home is the ultimate way to experience real Italian culture and food.
In Rome there are two web-based social platforms, Bonappetour and Gnammo, which help travelers connect with locals that would like to host people for lunch, or dinner, at their homes. Some hosts even offer cooking classes. So, if you’ve had your fill of tourist menus and checkered tablecloths, then book a meal with a local. Not only will you enjoy an authentic meal, but you might also make some new friends.
Browse for antiques at Porta Portese
Porta Portese is much loved by local Romans, and every Sunday this enormous flea market is filled to the brim with people searching for a good bargain.
Founded after the Second World War as a new base for the black market, Porta Portese, at the back of the Trastevere district, is the most famous Sunday market in Italy. The vast and diverse array of objects that’s for sale is astounding. From priceless antiques to household detergents and secondhand clothing, if you can imagine it, you’ll probably find it!
Via Portuense from Piazza Porta Portese to Piazza Ippolito Nievo.
Every Sunday from dawn to 2 pm (Trastevere)
Visit St Paul Outside the Wall
Although it’s not as well known as St. Peter, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is still a popular pilgrimage destination for many Catholics.
It was originally founded by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, and its rather long name comes from the fact that it was once located outside the city’s walls. The Basilica is the burial place of Saint Paul the Apostle, and the interior features a fascinating array of religious, artistic and historical sights to explore.
Piazzale San Paolo, 1
Daily from 7am – 6.30pm.
Buy fresh produce at Testaccio food market
If it’s a true taste of Rome’s local produce you’re after, then Mercato di Testaccio is the place for you. Situated in what was once a traditional working-class neighbourhood, this market offers a great choice of seasonal produce, freshly baked goods, ready-made meals and regional delicacies.
With English seldom spoken, this is the perfect spot where visitors will be able to witness a bit of daily life in the heart of the Eternal City.
Entrances from Via Galvani, Via Franklin & Via Manuzio (Metro B Piramide)
Mon – Sat from 7am – 3.30pm
Take a stroll around San Lorenzo
Located just north of Rome’s Termini station, the trendy neighbourhood of San Lorenzo is a great place to explore if you want to get away from the main tourist drag.
With its hip clubs and bars, cool street art and funky shops; this district exudes a modern bohemian atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else in Rome.
Step into a fairytale in the Coppedè district
Rome is filled with picturesque buildings, piazzas and fountains, but there is one district in particular that not only deserves to be called picturesque, but also seems to embody the definition of the word.
The Coppedè neighbourhood, named after the flamboyant architect that designed the ‘quartiere ’ between 1913 and 1927, is one of Rome’s most exclusive, and smallest, districts. What makes this area so captivating though, is its delightfully tongue-in-cheek mix of architectural styles. Taking his inspiration from Medieval, ancient Greek, Art Nouveau, Neo-Classic and Baroque styles, Gino Coppede built a residential area that makes one feel like you’ve stepped into a world of fantasy and magic.
The entire nieghbourhood lies between Piazza Buenos Aires and Via Tagliamento – and although it’s off the beaten track, it’s still easy to reach, either with the tram 3 or tram 19, both of which have stops at Piazza Buenos Aires.
Experience Ponte Milvio’s lively nightlife
If you don’t have your own transport, then getting to the Milvio Bridge and its very cool neighbouring district, isn’t that easy, but this is also one of the main reasons why it’s not overrun by tourists.
The bridge itself is one of the oldest in Rome, dating from 206 BC, and in the last decade has become the most sought after place for young lovers to declare their love by hanging a lock on the bridge and throwing the key in the river.
The area around the bridge is also famous for being one of the centers of Roman “movida” (nightlife). In the square in front of the bridge there’s an assortment of stylish cocktail bars, nightclubs and restaurants. If you want to dance the night away and sip on swanky cocktails, then come join the locals for a guaranteed fun night out.
To get there with public transport hop on the metro (A line), get off at Ottaviano and get on the number 32 bus, which will take you past the Ponte Milvio area.
Explore Fascist architecture in EUR
A physical reminder to the ambitions of Mussolini and his Fascist party, EUR is a peculiar and surprising suburb of Rome.
The area receives very little tourist attention, which doesn’t really come as a big surprise, since it lacks the sights most people associate with Rome, such as cobblestoned streets, colourful markets, quaint restaurants and ancient ruins. It is, however, a fascinating area worth exploring, especially if you’re passionate about architecture and contemporary history.
The most famous landmarks are the ‘square Colosseum’, the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro, and the enormous artificial lake, which is surrounded by a well-tended park where you can have a stroll or enjoy a picnic.
To get there take Metro Line B south towards Laurentina; then get off at the Fermi station, which is close to the lake.