Hidden pearls of Rome
Even those who have never been to Rome can tell you which are the most significant points of interest. Who has never heard of the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, or St. Peter’s Basilica? However, if you travel to Rome and use your time ticking off the list of the most famous attractions, you are missing something: the HIDDEN pearls of Rome! This guide, while not despising the iconic and universally known places of the “Eternal City”, will show you some hidden corner, something different and less famous, but equally interesting. But be careful: hurry up! The more time passes, the more secrets spread …
Hidden pearls of Rome: Antica Farmacia Della Scala
Originally called ” pizzeria ” the historic Pharmacy of Santa Maria della Scala is located on the second floor of a former convent where the Discalced Carmelites produced and sold spices and medicines in antiquity. Also known as ” Farmacia Dei Papi “, thanks to a special opening it is now open to visitors. You can thus see, for example, the ” terrace “, the medicinal panacea of all ills since Roman times. For a more complete dive into the past, then, it is still possible to buy products made with the very ancient recipes.
Hidden pearls of Rome: Casina delle Civette
La Casina delle Civette is a small ” house-museum “, inside the park of Villa Torlonia. Conceived by Giuseppe Jappelli in 1840, it was born as a rustic house, so much so that it was called ” Capanna Svizzera” until 1908, but since 1916 have been added windows with depictions of owls and inserted many other decorations with the shape of the famous nocturnal bird. Of the many small museums found in the park, home of the Torlonia family , but also of Mussolini in the 1920s, it was the first to open to the public, after the long restoration following the occupation of the allied troops in 1944, thefts, vandalism and a fire that destroyed it in the early 90s. But the Casina delle Civette museum it’s still there!
Hidden pearls of Rome: Magic Door
Also known as Porta Alchemica or Porta de Cieli, the Magic Door is one of the most hidden and secret pearls of Rome, and perhaps also one of the most mysterious. Built between 1655 and 1680 by Massimiliano Savelli Palombara, Marquis of Pietraforte in his villa, it is now on the Esquiline Hill, at the current Piazza Vittorio. Legend has it that an alchemist, Francesco Giuseppe Borri, he spent a night in the gardens of the villa, looking for a mysterious grass capable of turning stone into gold. The following morning he was seen disappearing forever through the door, leaving behind some gold specks and a piece of paper full of symbols and enigmas. The Marquis did not succeed in deciphering the formula, he had it engraved on the five doors of his villa (of which only the Magic Door remains), hoping that by making public the mystery someone could one day decipher it.
Hidden pearls of Rome: Galleria Sciarra
The Sciarra Gallery is a hidden gem in full view, just a couple of minutes from the famous (as crowded) Trevi Fountain. The facade has no particularity, but once inside you will find yourself in a courtyard that offers a not inconsiderable artistic spectacle: huge liberty-style frescoes painted by Giuseppe Cellini at the end of the nineteenth century. The theme is only one: women, or rather, the ” Glorification of Women “. The female virtues ( Pudore, Sobriety, Forza, Umiltà and so on) are depicted in scenes of everyday bourgeois life, under a vaulted roof in iron and glass. Today the Gallery is a private courtyard, but open to the public during office hours.
Hidden pearls of Rome: Capuchin crypt
The Capuchin Crypt is one of the most unforgettable hidden pearls of Rome, and is one of the less frequented crypts, being technically an ossuary. Probably not for anyone, but it’s worth seeing at least once. The skeletons are set up as works of art in various small chapels, from the altars to the chandeliers, to complete skeletons of monks resting on beds, all made of human bones. It is not a place for children or for those who are not at ease in the presence of death, but the level of detail of the works is admirable and visiting the Crypt is an extraordinary experience.
Hidden pearls of Rome: Keats-Shelley House
A few steps from the Spanish Steps, the Keats-Shelley House is a small museum dedicated to British romantic poets. Keats lived briefly in the apartment that houses the museum before he died of tuberculosis and was buried in the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome ( another not too frequented place ), in Testaccio. The museum’s library is beautiful, as are the views of the Piazza and the famous Scalinata, but the museum also contains a collection of paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, objects and first editions of the works of Keats, Shelley, and Byron.