Underground Rome. The sites you cannot miss!

san clemente

Visiting Rome is amazing but  you can’t cover in just one trip all the wonderful things the eternal city offers! To avoid frustration arising from missing the important things, we have created a quick guide to the roman underground – places you can’t miss when in Rome. Here we introduce you to the buried secrets that makes Rome unique.


Colosseum Underground and Caracalla Baths

The guided tour of the Colosseum Underground is a true experience: when visiting the Colosseum, you can’t miss to walk on the Arena of the gladiators or descend to the tunnels where the animals where caged ready to be pushed up to the fight. This tour is sold out very fast due to the limited number of the people admitted in the hypogeum section. More info on how to book this tour with us can be found at this link: http://mindtheguide.com/guided-tour/rome/3/colosseum-underground-tours

colosseum hypogeum

The tunnel under the Colosseum


Caracalla Baths

Probably the only competitor of the Colosseum, the Baths of Caracalla are the best preserved baths of the ancient Rome, a real window on the ancient roman daily life. Health, sport, culture where considered important by the romans and the baths were the places of such activities. Under the Bath, thousands of slaves worked in narrow roads, litting the fire, heating  the upper pools where  roman citizens spent the day. Simply amazing, this underground section is rarely accessible, and hopefully it will be opened to the public with a regular time in summer 2016.

caracalla underground

The underground roads beneath the Baths


Baths of Caracalla in Rome

The view of the Baths



The Tomb of Peter

The apostle Peter was sacrificed during the first persecution the Roman Empire launched against Christians. The story that christians were killed in the Colosseum is probably just a legend, but the emperor Nero loved to illuminate his dinners burning them alive, as accounted in many books. The head of the early christian Church, Peter, was crucified, at the Vatican, where now stands the immense church. Under the church, you can visit the necropoli, the city of the deads where romans buried people in graves along the ancient roads, and where Peter rests in a simple grave. How to get there? it is not expensive, it is not exclusive, it is only fully booked months ahead! Read this quick guide line directly from the Vatican City website and be sure to visit this important spot: http://www.scavi.va/content/scavi/en/prenotazione.html

Saint Peter's tomb

Underground of the Saint Peter’s Basilica



The prison of Peter

Before the execution, Saint Peter was detained in a prison that stands next to the Roman Forum: it is called Carcere Mamertino and consists of 2 scary rooms under the ground where people were kept before the punishment. Life imprisonment was unknown in the past, and criminals were imprisoned just for a short time, waiting the seasonal games of the Colosseum to be executed in front of the mob. For 3€, you are taken in this underground rooms, one on the other where thieves and slaves waited their fatal end, planned by a cruel justice.

Ancient Rome Prison

The prison of the Roman Forum


Houses, Domus and Churches.


Palazzo Valentini Domus

Right next to Venice square, under Palazzo Valentini you can visit the rooms of a private residence of a well established family of the 2nd century A.D. This place is known for the amazing condition of preservation: frescoes and mosaics, that once decorated the residence, are among the best conserved in Rome. Actually it is fully booked weeks before, and I suggest to see this place from tuesday to thursday in January, February, March, November and December. Even if the on line booking is not friendly, the place really deserves to be seen. Here is the link to book a guided tour: http://www.palazzovalentini.it/domus-romane/index-en.html#info

Mosaics under Palazzo Valentini

The mosaic in the roman domus


Roman Houses of the Celio

This place is probably the most beautiful among the many underground sites of Rome: an ancient apartment with frescoed rooms and mosaics, with a private bath, all under the church of John and Paul on the hill Celio, 5 minutes walking distance from the Colosseum. The story of a Martyrdom, happened in these rooms, transformed the place in a devotional site for the Holy See: altars and inscriptions dedicated to martyrs are everywhere in this little catacomb. Opened everyday, except Monday and Tuesday, it’s a must see when in Rome! You don’t need to book, it is open from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm with a ticket of 8€ (6€ if you have already been at the Colosseum and you show the ticket).

Roman Houses

The House Nympheum


The Church of Saint Clement


Also called the “Lasagna Church”, it consists of three levels opened everyday to the public: the lowest level, -2, is composed of tunnels and galleriers through an ancient roman condo and a public building. The -1 level is an old church with mosaics, inscriptions and frescoes related to Saint Clement and the Virgin Mary. The Church is accessible from via di San Giovanni in Laterano and is 1000 years old: the main altar mosaic is a fascinating vision of the world in the middle age, with humans at work and Jesus crucified in the center. This place makes you feel an adventurer and it is a real gem among the things to do in Rome. Everyday open but watch this link for price and time: http://www.basilicasanclemente.com/eng/index.php/informations/excavations

Saint Clement underground

The sanctuary of Mythra in Saint Clement




This name is really inflactioned and it is used for any of the underground places in Rome you can get by descending a staircase. The original, the oldest and the vastest are the Saint Sebastian along the Appian way. With a little price (about 8€) the organisation offers a guided tour that is included in the price: for 50minutes you walk tunnels and rooms under the Appian way, dig by the christians, during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Centuries AD in order to bury, for free, all the members of the community: it is told that the galleries run for over 50 Km (don’t worry, the guided tour is only few hundreds meter long!).  No need to book: they have guided tour in english every 30minutes. Just show up there. (sundays is closed)

Saint Callist Catacombs are also recommended: the advantage is that they are open also on Sundays while Saint Sebastian ones are closed.

Both the Catacombs are along the Appian road: 1 hour walking distance from the Colosseum (not recommended to walk until there). Take a Taxi at the Colosseum: the ride is about 15€. Also the Bus 118 arrives at the Catacombs of both Callist and Sebastian; same bus will take you back.

Catacomb of Saint Sebastian

The tombs in Saint Sebastian


Trevi Fountain Underground

A little secret place, called Vicus Caprarius, is the only chance for you to see an original roman acqueduct. An underground cistern that worked to provide the city with drinkable water and satisfy the needs of the population. The same acqueduct is filling the above Trevi Fountain’s cascade of water. In the excavation is conserved a little treasure, an amphora with hundreds of coins, that was found here: probably somebody concealed his saving during the legendary sack of Rome in 410 AD. From 11AM to 5.30PM is opened everyday, except on Monday, at the cost of 3,5€. Address is Vicolo del Puttarello, 25.

Ancient Roman Acqueduct

The Underground of Trevi Fountain

Rome: where for lunch and dinner on Christmas time?

Restaurants in Rome for Christmas

Christmas is certainly the number one festivity in Italy and, of course the one with the highest attraction, and it brings a huge slow down in terms of public life. Family first of all! So lots of shops and museums are absolutely closed.

Christmas dinner is very intimate, let’s say, for the real family.On the 25th, the so called Pranzo di Natale (Christmas Lunch) is dedicated to the large family, (including those relatives that you don’t get along with) and that, thank God, you get to see only on this occasion! New Year’s Eve works similar to Christmas, but many restaurants are open and organise the famous last dinner of the year, the Veglione (Ball in english).

Unless one of these families is opening their doors to you, what will you do? And where will you go for Christmas in Rome? Here is a list of places you can go and be served a delicious treat while romans are busy with celebrations.


ENOTECA PALATIUM, Via Frattina 94, phone 06 6920 2132

I love this place for the food and wine. It serves traditonal roman cuisine, selected wines and it is modestly priced. All their products are from Rome’s outskirts and their selection of cheeses and hams can do for a delicious appetizer. Red wine suggested? Cecubo or any Cesanese based wine. Strictly central (just 5 minutes from Spanish Steps) is open at lunch on the 24th and the 25th. Give a call to book a table!

Enoteca Palatium Via Frattina

Enoteca Palatium at Via Frattina



PORTO FLUVIALE, Via del porto fluviale 22, phone 06 574 3199 , info@portofluviale.com

Recently opened, is a wide and multifunctional place with an excellent cuisine offering italian food, pizza and a large selection of artisanal beers. It will be open on Christams day for lunch (Menu 50€, 25€ Child) and on the 31st for dinner from 9.30pm (same price for the New year’s Eve). This place is excellent for Pizza and is easy to find (10 minutes walking from the Stop Piramide, Subway B-line). Not touristy at all ! Give  a call to reserve a table. Open everyday (closed on 24th and 1st January).

Pizza in Rome

Pizza with Bufala at Porto Fluviale



ENOTECA DELLA PROVINCIA, Foro Traiano 82, phone 06 6994 0273,

Located at the beginning of Via dei Fori Imperiali, next to the Column of the Emperor Trajan, there is this small restaurant serving local food and wine. Sitting at the table you can see the imperial ruines in a charming context while drinking an excellent wine and eating local roman cuisine. They will be open for the 31st dinner and it is an occasion to stay in the center having a magical dining experience. Reservation is mandatory.

Enoteca at the Trajan Column

The view of the Imperial Forum



RISTORANTE PARIS, Piazza di S. Calisto 7/A, Phone 06 581 5378, paris@dariocappellanti.191.it

A traditional restaurant in the heart of Trastevere: this place stands out for the fish and location, they are certainly proud of their artichokes. This particular restaurant reminds me of the typical roman restaurants in my childhood which consisted in big halls, lots of tables, a fireplace and pure white tableclothes. It’s open on the 31st (dinner 85€). Definitely give a call to reserve (they do not speak english 😉 )

Roman Restaurant

The hall of the Restaurant Paris


SECONDO TRADIZIONE, via Rialto 39, Phone 06 39734757, www.secondotradizione.it

This restaurant is close to the vatican museum and is ran by Stefano and Francesco. I have seen the menu on their home page and is absolutely mouth watering. Their artichokes, tortellini, ragù, pasta, hand-made panettone and gelato will enhance the Christams lunch (85€); wines and Prosecco are included. On the 25th (lunch) and 31st (dinner) of December the menus are vamped up with raw fish, pasta, oysters and champagne. Next to the a-line subway stop Cipro. Make sure you book a table.


What about if I am preparing dinner by myself? First I want you to know that if I was not going to my Mom’s, I was going to be joining you; I love to cook but my Mom doesn’t let any living beings in the kitchen for hours! So read the list of Markets where you can shop with the locals.


CIRCO MASSIMO MARKET, Via di S. Teodoro, 74

This market is located next to the Circus Maximus and is open every weekend but closes during the Christmas period to the Epiphany. It has an extraordinary opening on the morning of December 23rd. Here you can find several producers of fresh food who carry their products straight from their farms to the center of Rome. Organic, mile Zero, this market is a fresh breeze of genuine food in the center of the touristic area of Rome.

The Circus Maximus Market



Testaccio market is probably the trendiest market in Rome and it is open on 24th A.M.and 31st A.M. Recently re-opened is frequented by the hipsters of testaccio and has a nice finger food area over the normal shopping area with stands of fish, fruit, bread and vegetables. It is the right place if you like to eat something while out, roaming in the city: visit the roman style sandwiches of Picchiapo or taste a deliciuos sicilian cannoli at Dess’art.

Testaccio Market sicilian Cannoli

Sicilian Cannoli at Dess’Art in Testaccio



SAN GIOVANNI DI DIO MARKET, Piazza San Giovanni di Dio

Be ready to the surprise this place provides: ugly outside, chaotic and stuck in the past, this market is how markets used to be 50 years ago. From the central Piazza Venezia, the tram number 8 will take you in the working class district of Monteverde: within 15 minutes you will be catapulted into another Rome. Kiosks, owners screaming, old ladies peeling cicory, the fish on the bank (fresh and supreme). Don’t miss the stand called Tuttoghiotto, where Riccardo will amaze you with a delicious tasting of cheeses and hams from all around Italy: the ancient roman cheese (you can find it only here!) is a true gastronomic experience.

Market of Monteverde

Riccardo’s stand at the market





The Other Roman Art: Our Top 5 Places to View Street Art [Revisited]

Leaving aside the politics of whether to call it street art or graffiti, 2014 was a great year for Rome’s alternative art scene.  And given the recent activities along Via Ostiense, 2015 should be even better. 🙂

Both Italian and international street artists have made the Eternal City their latest canvas for cultural and self-expression, and many of the city’s more residential neighborhoods.

In the recent years, websites that represent the street artist community, such as Street Art Roma, Street Art News, and 999 Contemporary Street Art, have emerged and are growing in popularity, giving new understanding to the art form by creating educational dialogue.

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Our Top 3 Parks in Rome: Take A Nature Getaway

Rome is renowned for its many monuments, museums, and archaeological sites.  Rome is a city that breathes life through the presence or absence of its buildings.  Still, as amazing as the Colosseum or the Baths of Caracalla are, sometimes you just want to get away from it all.

Here are 3 natural spaces in Rome, where you can take a breather from touring the city.

Villa Ada

Villa Ada. Image from TripAdvisor. Click read reviews.

Villa Ada. Image from TripAdvisor. Click read reviews.

Villa Ada, Via Salaria

(Get There: Bus 223 to Stazione La Giustiniana or Tram FC3 to Montebello)

Located in northeastern Rome,  Villa Ada is the second largest park in Rome that covers an area of 450 acres.  Known not only for its beauty, the Villa Ada is also a popular venue for many artistic and musical events.  Although a public park, Villa Ada also houses the Egyptian Embassy, and so there are some areas that are considered private and are restricted.

Originally, the Villa was the royal residence of the Italian royal House of Savoy from 1872 to 1878.  The name of the Villa stems from the brief period (1878-1904) when a Swiss count (Tellfner) named it after his wife Ada.

Curious to learn more about Villa Ada? Check out the Villa’s Google+ Page, or read some of the wonderful reviews and see more images on TripAdvisor.

Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese. Image by  Skirtboy.com.  Click to read their article "10 Best Open Spaces in Rome"

Villa Borghese. Image by Skirtboy.com. Click to read their article “10 Best Open Spaces in Rome”

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No time to Dine? Try One of These 10 Roman Street Foods [Reblog]

Wondering what to eat on your next break between seeing Rome’s most famous sites? Well, the Eternal City has many quick and easy treats to refresh you before you begin your journey again…and no, we don’t mean gelato!


Image by Just A Taste: http://www.justataste.com    Not in Rome? Click the image for an a recipe!

Arancini – Melted mozzarella, ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce and peas are the usual fillings of this large-sized fried rice ball, a satisfying and easy to eat Sicilian treat.

Recommended: Venanzio Sisini,  Via di San Francesco a Ripa 137

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Baths of Caracalla Revisited

Last fall, we featured one of our tour locations as a blog post: the Baths of Caracalla.  Perhaps not has popular as the Colosseum, Roman Forum or Vatican, the Baths of Caracalla remains a monumental and awe-inspiring structure. As we draw closer to the warmer spring weather, Mind the Guide invites you to take a look at our Rome tours, especially the Colosseum ad Baths of Caracalla Tour as well as the Underground Colosseum Tour.


With this weather, there is one site that you should visit while you have the chance: The Baths of Caracalla (Le Terme di Caracalla).

The Baths of Caracalla, ~AD 216

The Baths of Caracalla, ~AD 216

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Il Mercatino Giapponese in Rome: Should You Go? We’ll Let You Know.

Il Mercatino Giapponese

Next Event: March 15, 2015 | Time: 10AM – 8PM

Blackout Club, Via Casilina 713, Rome (Zone: Tor Pignattarra)

If you take either the metro line A or B to Termini, then grab the 105 bus in the direction of Grotte Celoni or the tram line FC1, you will be able to arrive at the Mercatino Giapponese . (To plan your trip visit Rome’s transportation Pages: ATAC or MuoversiaRoma)

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We Wish You A Happy Valentine’s Day from Rome!

Image by D. Blake

Image by Diedré Blake. Click to visit her site.


We wish you the best on this day, and hope that you spend it in the company of loved ones.

Don’t Forget to Check Out Our Valentine’s Day Post:

“Valentine’s Day in Rome? 3 Ways to Spent It!”


  -Post by  Diedré Blake

Look Out For Posts Every Wednesday & Saturday!

Visit Our Website to Find Out More About Our Latest Rome Tours!

The MindtheGuideTeam 

Valentine’s Day in Rome: 3 Ways to Spend It!

If the Eternal City is par excellence and your love worthy of eternal promise, then being here on February 14th will be one day in which you cannot help but to get lost in they eyes of your partner as you wander through the streets of Rome.

Image by D. Blake

Image by Diedré Blake. Click to visit her site.

Click per la versione italiana.

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How Did Rome Welcome Italy’s New President? In Between the Rain & Fancy Dresses at The Quirinale: Teas, Chocolates & Wine!

Italy welcomed its latest president, Sergio Mattarella, this past weekend.  Over the thousands of clicks from flashing cameras and reverberating microphones, Mattarella delivered a fateful oath, swearing his duty to the Italian Republic and declaring himself to be the “impartial arbiter” of a state that needs is in dire need of a confidence boost.

Image from the Daily Mail. Click to read their article “Italy’s New President Decries Corruption…”

Click per la versione italiana.

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