The Eternal City, the City of Love, call it what you may, Rome, Italy is on the bucket lists of many. And for good reason! Rome is the treasure chest of Italy bursting with two millennia of artistic achievement. In a place where an entire empire of gold was crowned into centuries of rulers, where Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel and where the Vatican City upholds some of the longest kept secrets in the world, you can believe there are quite a few “off the beaten path” creepy, weird and all around cool things to do in Rome (beyond your tourist map).
As my son like’s to say “in the olden days” Rome was an empire known for its fierce warriors and mighty reign. Today Rome’s formidable legacy is carried on by its people, its history, a lifestyle. Today’s Rome will always have footprints of the past while cultivating a modern society rich with art, food and tourism. And if you look close enough, you’ll find there’s a very dark and obscure side to the Eternal City.
Here are 9 really creepy, weird and all around cool things to do in Rome.
#1 Torre Argentina
A square in Rome where Julius Caesar had been killed. It’s also a really weird habitat for stray cats and acts as a no-kill shelter. I kind of hope its haunted.
#2 Porta Alchemica AKA the Alchemy Gate or Magic Portal
Built between 1678 and 1680 by Massimiliano Palombara, marquis of Pietraforte, in his residence, the villa Palombara, it is the only one of five former gates of the villa that remains. This mysterious door holds legends of a disappearing alchemist. Yeah, that’s just cool. On my top for things to do in Rome.
#3 Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts
Said to be the inspiration of the Sedlec ossuary (1870) in the Czech Republic and the Skull Chapel in Poland, this crypt or ossuary has the remains of 4,000 friars buried between 1500 and 1870. It originated at a time when spiritual masters formed cults for the dead. Creepy? Definitely at the top of my list for things to do in Rome.
#4 St. Valentine’s Skull
A skull belonging to a St. Valentine. Perhaps the one we base Valentine’s Day around, perhaps not. Either way, it’s a skull in an old basilica in Rome which makes this creepy and pretty cool. And another super favorite for things to do in Rome.
#5 The Protestant Cemetery
The English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley were buried in this non-Catholic graveyard. I did graveyards. It’s the creepy side of my unicorn spirit.
#6 Lacus Curtius
Some say this is one of the gateways to Hell. Ancient legend has it an oracle convinced a young horseman to plunge into the mysterious pit (now paved over with ancient stone), an effort to save Rome from peril. He did so, fully armored, on his horse and the earth closed over him, saving the day and Rome. You have to love a man and his horse right?
#7 San Silvestro
Where you will find the head of John the Baptist. Yeah.
#8 The Catacombs of San Sebastian
One of the many ancient burial grounds beneath the city of Rome.
#9 Santa Francesca Romania
Has the saint in which it’s named for on display in death. Like, ew. Certainly one of the more creepy things to do in Rome.
If you’re planning your list of things to do in Rome and you just don’t want to come home with another travel story that sounds like everyone else’s, check out a few of these places. You’re guaranteed to get a conversation going. If you’re looking for some extra help in the city to explore a little more like a local, check out.