My favourite hidden gems in Rome (Yes, I am that cultured)

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Chances are, this is what you think of when you hear the word “Rome” uttered in conversation.

When people book a holiday to Rome, 9 times out of 10 they will tell you they’ll be staying in a hotel in the city centre and will be seeing sites such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. All whilst drowning in their own sweat with the mistaken belief that a break to the mainstream centre of Rome is romantic and cultured. How wrong these fraggles are.

I’m about to tell you of a few places in and around Rome which are off the beaten track, rich in culture and aesthetically beautiful. Those of you planning a romantic proposal, going on a make-or-break holiday or looking to impress your girlfriend, you might want to bookmark this page or make a few notes on this post because a trip to these places will leave any woman wet at the knees.

First of all, anyone that has spent a long time in the city knows that a visit to St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican will leave you frustrated with all the crowds and half blind from all the camera flashes in the Sistine Chapel.  You will be pleased to know, however, that there is a way (and a better way it must be said) of viewing and admiring the Vatican from afar. Just South of the city centre, near the Ponte Sublicio on the Tiber, there is a place called Piazza Dei Cavalieri di Malta which snugly sits on the Aventine Hill. When you arrive here, you will be met by an large, old and unassuming doorway. Take a look through the keyhole and the sight is a great view of St. Peter’s lined with the Piazza’s foliage (this view is particularly inspiring at night).

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Perfect Alignment: If I was a religious man I’d put this keyhole view down to the work of some sort of deity

As Impressive as the keyhole of this door is, the wonders of this site do not end here, oh no, my friend. Just a stone’s throw around the corner is the so-called “Secret Garden” of the Villa del Priorato di Malta. In simple terms, this is a picturesque grove dating back to the 18th century which even includes a stone balcony over-looking the city. Also, it must be said that some of the trees here grow a white flower which smells of oranges, if you tell your girlfriend/significant other prior to your arrival and then offer her one of these flowers, she will be bowled over by your  Attenborough-esque knowledge, trust me.

If you move even further South of the city centre and swing towards the coast, you will find yourself in the town of Ostia Antica. To put it as simply as possible, this town has been around the block many a time. This town is so steeped in history it makes Ryan Giggs look like a rosy-cheeked, fresh-faced infant. Every major era of Italian history marks this piece of land. A Roman theatre and market square survive, the medieval Castle of Giulio II and Church of Saint Aurea still stand proudly. There are even bullet holes from World War II lodged in some of the walls.

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Tucked away and peaceful: Castel di Giulio II is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Central Rome

I want to draw your attention to Castel di Giulio II, Chiesa di Sant’Aurea and their immediate surroundings. Having left the fierce pace of modern life, coming to this place will feel like you’ve gone back to a more simpler time and the hands on your watch will magically seem to slow down to a much more leisurely pace. This is mainly because the church dates back to approximately 1483 and the castle, a few years earlier. The houses in the immediate vicinity are around the same age as well. Now that’s old school.

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Chiesa di Sant’Aurea: contained in a courtyard about 100 yards and a few hundred years away from modern civilisation

The church itself is enclosed in a courtyard as historic as everything else, almost like a time vacuum. At night, the whole pocket of land is particularly impressive and you can pretty vividly imagine the battle(s) that would have raged here in World War II.

Finally, I was never lucky enough or had enough time to do this, but there are two restaurants right here (Ristorante Cipriani and Ristorante Monumento to be exact) which, to be perfectly honest, are where I’d take a potential wife or a serious girlfriend if females weren’t so repulsed by my so many bear and ape-like characteristics. The food here is, for starters (no pun intended), reasonably-priced. Moreover, the cuisine here is so authentically Roman that it makes Ragu and Dolmio look and (I imagine) taste like paint that you’d purchase from the B&Q mixing desk.

So there you go, that’s all I have to say on this matter other than, when she says yes, you can thank me in the comments section