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Travel Rome: After touring the Eternal City’s main attractions, wander around to find these hidden…


Think of Rome and you think of the Colosseum, the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica — all must-sees for a trip to the Eternal City. But make time to stray off the beaten path and you’ll find lesser-known gems and unique ways to see the hot spots.

NIGHT WALK: Start this one-mile stroll at Piazza Navona, a former Roman circus turned into a pedestrian-friendly square filled with restaurants and shops.

Continue east to the Pantheon. The ancient building can only be entered during the day, but you can still walk through the porch’s 40-foot columns. Snap some photos of the exterior in the glow of the ornate streetlights.

Head northeast to Palazzo Montecitorio, one of the buildings of the Parliament of Italy, and onward to the Trevi Fountain.

Legend says tossing a coin over your shoulder into the water guarantees that you will return to Rome.

Farther northeast is Piazza Spagna, home of the Spanish Steps. Climb the 138 steps for an elevated view of Via Condotti, site of Rome’s designer fashion shops.

ARTFUL DODGING: Galleria Borghese is located just outside the city’s ancient north wall. It was the home of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a voracious art collector.

Every surface in the estate showcases a masterful sculpture, painting or mosaic, but the most awe-inspiring is Bernini’s pollo and Daphne sculpture.

Slowly walk around it to see how Bernini managed to make the marble look as though it moves. Tours are by reservation only. Admission is $ 12, plus a $ 3 reservation fee.

The Museum of Imperial Forums is housed in Emperor Trajan’s market.

Fragments of imperial forums are on display, including large sections of Caesar’s and Augustus’s Forums. The upper level offers a nice view of part of the Roman Forum and Victor Emmanuel Monument across the street.

Admission is $ 9.75 to $ 12.50.

The Capuchin Crypt is below the Church of Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione. It has six chambers with walls, ceilings and floors ornately decorated with the bones of about 4,000 friars.

The space is sacred, so no photography is allowed. Don’t worry: there are plenty of postcards in the gift shop.

Admission is $ 5.25 to $ 8.

MONDAY FUN DAY: Most sites and shops are closed on Mondays, so it’s a good day to head out of the city for a trip to the beach.

The coastal town of Santa Marinella is about 65 km northwest of Rome. It’s a 45-minute train ride from Rome’s Termini station to the depot in Santa Marinella (ticket prices vary; ours were $ 16 each way), and the public beach is just a 5-minute walk from the train depot.

Relax on the sand or take a stroll along the neighbouring beachfront estates. Rocky alcoves tucked between the homes are beautiful spots for photos.

A gelateria overlooking the beach offers frozen treats and full bar service. Be sure to stop there for a snack before catching the train back to Rome.

DO AS THE ROMANS DO: Campo di Fiori, south of Piazza Navona, has a morning farmer’s market where folks get fresh produce, baked goods, authentic sauces and olive oil. Go there for breakfast and buy inexpensive snacks to have throughout the day.

Have lunch like a true Roman by purchasing a sandwich from a grocery store for $ 2.50 to $ 4 (much cheaper than dining in a restaurant) and eating it on a bench in a piazza.

Take care where you sit: a municipal ordinance approved in October prohibits anyone from eating in areas of “particular historic, artistic, architectonic and cultural value.”

One of our best discoveries was Rome’s public water fountains, which are located in most piazzas and on some street corners. The water is clean, cold and tasty, so don’t forget to pack your reusable water bottle.

Just the Facts

GOING Air Canada and several other airlines offer direct flights from Toronto to Rome.

GETTING AROUND Rome is easily walkable, and there are convenient ways to get to destinations outside the city centre. Metro: Two lines, with stops near major sites including the Colosseum and Vatican Museum, intersect at the Termini train station (Rome’s public transportation hub). Timed tickets (good for 75 minutes) are $ 1.50, one-day tickets are $ 5.25, three-day tickets are $ 14.50 and one-week tickets are $ 21. Cabs: Catch a ride at the marked taxi stands and beware of unauthorized cars — official Roman taxis are white and have the city’s emblem on the door. All rides are metered; rates vary depending on the time and day.

STAYING Check out Vacation Rental by Owner (vrbo.com) to try living as the Romans do. Our group of three booked a two-bedroom apartment with a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, living room and terrace. It also had air conditioning (not standard in Rome), a washing machine and Wi-Fi. We each paid $ 345 for a six-night stay. The apartment was located a few blocks southeast of the Termini station, which provided convenient transportation, but the area is commercial with a lot of traffic. Explore options near Piazza Navona, the Pantheon or Campo di Fiori for a more residential feel.

WEBSURFINGitalia.it, rome.info

thestar.com – Travel

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