If you have visited Rome several times, here are some curious and sometimes disturbing corners to discover. If you planned to come to the Eternal City for one of the many events, these are the places where you’ll find fewer tourists.
At the southern end of the Via Veneto, the Baroque church of Santa Maria dell’Immacolata Concezione is best known for its gruesome collection of bones kept in the crypt.
Constructed somewhere between 1732-75, five rooms hold the bones of over 3,700 Capuchin friars as well as indigent Romans, including children.
The Marquis de Sade himself called this memento mori a “monument of funerary art.
Known affectionately by Romans as the “hole of Rome” its abiding attraction draws queues of visitors to this peaceable “out of the way” spot. No key is required: it is sufficient to put an open eye to the keyhole, and focus. With kaleidoscope charm, a vision of St Peter’s dome perfectly in perspective, framed by the tops of trees in the foreground, opens up.
Often wrapped in a thin mysterious mist, seems to stand at the end of the garden path, just beyond the door.
Between via Sistina and via Gregoriana is a building whose façade is definitely curious, perhaps even more worrying in Rome.
The frames of the entrance door and Windows are huge Monster mouths wide open. A whim of a famous Baroque artist, Federico Zuccari, who built his home inspired by the monsters of Bomarzo, near Viterbo.
Built in 1600 under the cardinal Ludovisi, the Church of Sant’ Ignazio has a peculiarity that eludes almost all visitors: the dome, in fact, is not a dome. It was never built due to lack of funds.
Circular space it intended was used to paint a trompe-l’oeil. Try walking with our eyes fixed on the dome skylight, as you will find that it is fake.
In a side street leading to Piazza Capranica, not far from the Pantheon, lies the small ruins of a column pierced by the sword of the legendary Knight, Orlando, the very same knight whose glorious deeds are extolled in the ancient Chanson de Roland, written in the 11th century. The column was pierced by his sword, the Durlindana, and the marble bears the marks of his passing.
One day a week, after the mass on Saturday evening, members of Chiesa di Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) can watch very curious show: Rubens’s painting entitled Angels adoring Madonna Valicelliana located behind the altar disappears. With a remote control the sacristan sends down a painting and makes up another.
The Madonna della Vallicella is the miraculous fourteenth-century fresco depicting the Virgin Mary who, hit by a pebble in 1535, and is today would bleed on the high altar where is visible thanks to an automated system behind the main altarpiece of the same Rubens.
Next to the ancient Aurelian road lies a street that faces Saint Peter’s Basilica. This viewpoint of the Basilica is better than any other, better even than the view from the square in front of the Basilica itself.
The idiosyncrasy of this street is that it conceals an original architectural characteristic, which creates an amazing optical illusion. Walking along the road the closer one gets to the Basilica the further away it seems to be and, vice versa, the further away one goes bigger it appears to be.