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
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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.