Hidden Rome Tour: Uncover the beauty of the Eternal City

Discover the secret beauty of Rome, exploring some of the city's most atmospheric hidden corners

Hidden Rome Tour: Uncover the beauty of the Eternal City

duration 3 hours

Tour Overview

Explore some of the most underrated and beautiful sites in the Eternal City on this off-the-beaten path private tour through Rome. Explore the picturesque Protestant cemetery in the company of one of our expert local guides, described by Oscar Wilde as “the holiest place in Rome”. The burial place of iconic Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Shelley, the tranquil graveyard is shaded by umbrella pines and overlooked by a magnificent ancient Roman pyramid - older even than the Colosseum. We’ll also visit boat-shaped Tiber island, learning about its central place in Roman history and the legends that surround it. Finally enjoy a relaxed stroll on the peaceful Aventine Hill, visiting some of Rome’s oldest churches and admiring breathtaking panoramic views from the Giardino degli Aranci - as well as through the secret keyhole of the Knights of Malta. Book your tour today and join us to discover the hidden histories and beauty of the Eternal City!

Tour includes:

  • An expert English-speaking private guide
  • Entrance to the Protestant cemetery

Highlights:

  • The Aventine Hill
  • The Protestant Cemetery
  • Tiber Island
  • The Pyramid of Cestius

Hidden Gems:

  • The Garden of Oranges
  • The Secret Keyhole of the Knights of Malta

Tour Description

Go off the beaten path on this exclusive private tour of Rome, to explore the peaceful heart of the Eternal City, and learn about 3,000 years of history. Away from the crowds and the traffic, you’ll discover quiet corners of Rome that are rich in history and beauty. On this relaxing stroll through Rome you’ll discover the peace and quiet of the Protestant Cemetery, a shady spot filled with cypresses and umbrella pines, where some of the most famous poets and artists are buried. From there you’ll climb the Aventine Hill, and learn about its secret history while exploring ancient churches and admiring spectacular views of the city. You’ll visit the atmospheric Tiber Island, and uncover another side of Roman history - a fascinating story of healing and medicine, which began in the heart of the river more than 2,000 years ago. Join us on a journey through Rome, visiting overlooked sights at a relaxed pace, for an alternative tour of Ancient Rome.

The Protestant Cemetery: “The holiest place in Rome”

According to Oscar Wilde, the Protestant Cemetery - also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery - was the most sacred space in the Eternal City. The area surrounding the Pyramid of Cestius was originally an open field, and was subsequently used for the burials of non-Catholics and foreigners who had died in Rome. As you walk among the tombs you’ll see gravestones written not only in English and German, but even in Arabic and Hebrew.

You’ll also hear some of the deeply moving stories of the people buried here, including two of the great Romantic poets. John Keats was only twenty-five when he died of tuberculosis in 1821, but he had already written some of the most beautiful poetry in the English language. His grave is located in the oldest part of the cemetery, which is overlooked by the Pyramid of Cestius. This vast marble pyramid is even older than the Colosseum, having been built around 18 BC as a tomb for a wealthy Roman nobleman.

In the company of your personal guide, you’ll then explore the labyrinth of tombs on the hillside. It is here that you’ll find the grave of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who once said of the cemetery that “It might make one in love with death, to be buried in so sweet a place”. Your guide will also show you the famous “weeping angel” grave, and tell you about the lives and deaths behind some of these tombstones.

Many are surprised by the beauty of the cemetery, a place which moves and inspires due to its tranquil atmosphere and scenic location, in the shadow of the pyramid and the Aurelian Walls.

 

The Secret Churches of the Aventine Hill

The Aventine Hill is overlooked by many visitors to Rome, but it hides a fascinating history. These shady residential streets were once the location of pagan temples and a sacred grove, where bacchanals took place.

On your private tour of the Aventine, you’ll discover the hill’s Christian history, in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Sabina. The interior is elegant and understated, and its wooden doors feature the oldest representation of the crucifixion. In the thirteenth century St Dominic made Santa Sabina his home, and planted an orange tree in the garden, which can still be seen today. Have a look at the chapel dedicated to St Dominic and you’ll find a black stone; legend has it that the Devil himself threw this stone at the saint.

After visiting the church you’ll enjoy a walk through the romantic Giardino degli Aranci (orange garden), a park filled with orange trees and umbrella pines. The gardens overlook the river, and offer spectacular views of Rome. For an even more unusual view, follow the road to find a secret keyhole - one of the most beautiful hidden sights in the city.

 

A History of Healing on the Tiber Island

In the middle of the Tiber river is a boat-shaped island, an iconic landmark nestled between the neighbourhoods of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto. Many walk past or even across the Tiber Island without realizing that it has a long and important history as a centre of healing and medicine. As you explore the cobbled streets with your private guide, the secret history of the island will be revealed.

In ancient times local people avoided the island, as it was populated by criminals and people suffering from contagious diseases. But after the construction of the Temple of Aesculapius in the third century B.C., the reputation of the Tiber Island suddenly changed. Your guide will tell you the story of how the temple - and the unusual shape of the island - came to be, as a result of a terrible plague and an unexpected omen. On your private tour of the Tiber Island you’ll also learn how votive offerings were given to the god of medicine, in hope of being blessed with a cure.

Even to this day, the island remains a centre of healing, as Fatebenefratelli, a hospital with sixteenth-century origins, continues to heal modern day Romans.

meeting point

Your guide will meet you outside the Piramide metro station, Piazzale Ostiense.

Tour Reviews

5.0 (1 reviews)

Mrs

Gracelyn was a great guide. The tour was paced just right. She had clear diction. The history of Rome came alive with her descriptions. It was a memorable start to my birthday celebrations! I will recommend the tour to everyone!

jeanne - Jan 06, 2019

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