Six unusual tours of Rome that reveal another side of the city

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To celebrate Rome’s 150th anniversary as the capital of Italy, we’re choosing six ways to experience new sides of the Eternal City, from virtual reality tours of the Colosseum to day trips on a Vespa scooter.

Posted July 10, 2021, 08:00 BST, Update July 13, 2021, 5:05 PM BST

Campo de ‘Fiori is the oldest market in the capital, with many stalls selling seasonal produce, fresh pasta and local specialties.

Photograph by Alamy

The history of Rome, cradle of the Roman Empire, seat of the Papal States, is so closely linked to power and history that it is easy to forget that it was not always the capital of the ‘Italy. Even in its short modern history, the country has had multiple suitors: the Italian government first met in Turin, then moved to Florence, and only – eventually – moved to Rome in 1871. 150 years later, the Eternal City is still finding new ways to live. living up to its reputation, from catering projects to new design hotels. The following six visits will help you see its ancient charms in a new light.

Read more: Italy travel guide

1. Shop and cook like a local

In Rome… do – and eat – like the Romans do, with the market-to-table dining experience of Walk Inside Rome. Whet your appetite by following a local chef around Campo de ‘Fiori, the capital’s oldest market (pictured), browsing stalls selling seasonal produce, fresh pasta and local specialties. Come for lunch, bring the fresh ingredients to one of the two cooking schools in the historic center – one near Piazza Navona, the other near the Pantheon – and learn how to cook a traditional Italian meal, including a pasta dish, a main course, a side dish and dessert.

2. Visit the burial place of the first emperor

This spring, the Mausoleum of Augustus – the world’s largest circular tomb, a testament to the engineering prowess of the Romans – opened to the public following a 14-year restoration project. A new 50-minute, technology-enhanced tour takes visitors to the inner burial chamber, which was previously off-limits for most of the past 80 years. Book your ticket well in advance or, if you can’t make it right away, learn about the mausoleum and its history through the interactive experience on the new website.

The Castelli Romani have been an oasis for Romans seeking respite since Antiquity.

Photograph by Alamy

3. Explore the Roman countryside on a Vespa scooter

The Castelli Romani, a collection of ancient towns, country villas and crater lakes in the hills of Alban, southeast of the capital, have been an oasis for Romans in search of respite since ancient times. Discover this volcanic landscape on two wheels with the Countryside Vespa Tour from Scooteroma. Depart from the town of Castel Gandolfo, home to the Pope’s summer residence, and travel winding country roads to the Byzantine Abbey of St. Nile and the wine town of Frascati, with stops for tasty snacks along the way.

4. Discover the secrets of the city’s art with a scholar

Team up with an art historian on a private, personalized tour hosted by Context, a company that connects travelers with a network of experts, for an in-depth examination of the city’s frescoes and mosaics. Routes could involve spotlighting the cult of Mithras in the underground temple of the Basilica of San Clemente or obtaining special access to Palazzo Colonna, a Roman mansion that has been in the same family for over 20 generations.

5. Go behind the scenes of Hollywood classics

Film buffs might be tempted to take a tour of the capital’s Cinecittà studios, but for an intimate look at the big screen’s love affair with Rome, choose the Rome Cinema & Food walk from Casa Mia Tour. On this private excursion, led by the granddaughter of famous filmmaker Vittorio De Sica, participants explore the filming locations of blockbusters like The Bicycle Thief, Roman Holiday, and La Dolce Vita and listen to behind-the-scenes tales from locals and extras. . You’ll also discover filmmakers’ favorite haunts and sample dishes depicted onscreen, before heading for lunch at a local trattoria.

Want to see the classics in a new light? Try LivItaly’s Colosseum and Domus Aurea Virtual Reality Tour.

Photograph by Getty Images

6. Take a New Look at Old Favorites

Finally, for a twist on the classics – and a glimpse into the lives of present Roman citizens and emperors of the past – there’s the Colosseum of LivItaly and the virtual reality tour of the Domus Aurea. This group outing begins in the iconic Amphitheater, where stories of gore and glory come to life thanks to VR glasses. Next, make your way to the nearby excavation site of Emperor Nero’s gargantuan Golden Palace, once again don virtual reality glasses to virtually restore the golden ceiling, marble panels and lush gardens of the vault gilded to their former opulent glory.

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