I am often asked about the ‘right way’ to enjoy Rome. They have either read about the stifling heat, the pounding mobs of tourists, or they have witnessed it themselves.
The Big 6-8 Sites
Rome has so much to do. But the 6-8 most visited sites in Rome are the exact same locations that were made popular in the 1960’s movies. (Remember those?)
Rome has thrived for over 2,500 years (how old is your city or town?), and has most certainly left behind more than 6-8 sites. As a historian, author and researcher, I have located a whopping 101 sites throughout Rome, most of which are nearly empty of tourists. Why? Because the tourism industry has put some super big bucks behind those same locations, so that is where all of the tourists are taken.
The Other 94 Sites in Rome
Because of its long and deep history, Rome has accommodated thousands of the best archaeologists and excavators in the world. Over the past 50 years, they have dug up some truly glorious sites that most people never hear of. So I put them in a first-to-market travel book called “ROME Keys to the Ancient City.” Some of the places are in plain site, some are underground (way cool!) and some are hidden in buildings.
These are the places where you will enjoy Rome without the crowds. Without the mobs. And the underground sites: without the heat.
Why aren't these sites more popular?
This is an interesting question, one that I have thought about often. The answer is pretty simple. Most travel book writers are not historians. They were writers (or bloggers) that have been sent to a city for a few days to a couple of weeks. They know how to 'see' today's Rome: restaurants, bars, fun activities, etc. Then off they go to their next city assignment.
These folks aren't typically historians, and they don't usually have the luxury of spending several months in each city.
This is why most travel guides are simply duplicates of each other: Top 10 Things to Do, or Places to Eat, etc.
Sadly, the rest of a great city like Rome gets left out of the bus schedules, hotel rates, and wine bars.
I have always been the kind of traveler that wants to dive deeper, and to really understand the city I am visiting. Sure, the top 10 sites in any city are pretty important, but they aren't necessarily the best. Or the most interesting. They are simply the promote sites.
And sure, food and wine are pretty important to me. I love a great meal, accompanied by a terrific glass of vino. But in Italy? No matter how you plan your trip, the food and wine will come naturally. Because after all, this is Italy.