The Eternal City is renowned for its love of life. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Rome is all about good food, fine wine and glorious piazzas. Step off the established beaten track and consider your choices to get to know the other side of Rome; with Vatican tours of the Papal Crypts, Pompeii tours from Rome and many other unexpected experiences.

There’s a darker side to Rome that provides a counterpoint to all the fun and festivity going on above ground. In today’s post we’re sharing ideas and options to explore Rome’s lesser known but truly captivating sights

Visit the final resting place of the popes

The Vatican is as spellbinding below ground as it is above. And when you join us on select Vatican tours, you’ll experience both. Various popes lie in the crypts underneath the old St. Peter’s Basilica. Some of the crypts date as far back as the fifth century and the most recent crypts date back to the sixteenth century. On our tour of St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican Crypt, you’ll explore the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica before accessing crypts below. Descend into these hallowed resting places, and explore this unusual, facet of Rome.

See another side to the Colosseum

The Colosseum after dark

No other site symbolizes Rome as much as the Colosseum does. After all, this space was the gladiators’ stomping ground. Listen carefully, and you can still catch an echo of their epic battles on the breeze. When you tour with us, you get the chance to step even closer into the life of a gladiator and tour the underground of the Colosseum after dark.

Apart from experiencing the sheer size of the Colosseum in a totally new way, you’ll also see the Colosseum from the gladiators' point of view. You’ll walk through the tunnels where lions, tigers and other wild beasts were kept before the battles began, and you’ll see where the gladiators sharpened their weapons prior to stepping onto the arena floor.

Blood lust and glory lived side by side during the days of the gladiatorial battles. Experience this highly charged period of history for yourself on our small tour. But only if you’re brave enough!

Danger lurks in Pompeii

Victims of Pompeii at the Garden of Fugitives

Pompeii is known across the world for the tragic events that took place on October 24, 79 AD. This was the day that Mount Vesuvius, the menacing (and still active) volcano that bubbles away in the distance, erupted and destroyed this once thriving Roman town. Today, you have the option to go on Pompeii tours from Rome when you tour with us.

You’ll skip the lines when you tour Pompeii in our group and immediately access this living museum. It’ll become clear very quickly why Pompeii is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Remnants of the life the citizens of Pompeii lead are everywhere.

It can be a sobering moment when you first see a cast of person or animal lying in the position they were in when the toxic lava first overwhelmed them thousands of years ago. But your tour will also bring you face to face with the vibrant social life Pompeii inhabitants lived. You’ll find restaurants, bath houses, theaters, schools, courts and town squares too.

Step beneath the surface into the catacombs of Rome

Bone Chapel in the Roman Crypts

To explore the darker side of Rome, you need to disappear from the streets of this busy city center. It’s under the surface of the Eternal City that Rome reveals all its macabre secrets. You’ll also discover just how Rome came to be known as the Eternal City when you step into the crypts and catacombs beneath the city. Some of them date from 2 AD and predate Christianity in Rome.

Your tour with us will start at one of the hidden Christian catacombs dotted around the city. These Rome catacombs were first built with a dual purpose. Practicing your Christian faith at the time would see you in trouble with the authorities as the religion was not approved by the State. Therefore, Christians built places of worship underground. Secondly, the safety beneath the ground also provided a perfect haven for early Christian martyrs to be buried.

Following an exploration of these somber tunnels we travel to Basilica of San Clemente. Close to the Colosseum, this ancient church holds many secrets. Just below its floors lie a perfectly preserved Roman street and a room that was used for pagan rituals. You’ll explore everything this 4th century place of worship keeps hidden when you travel with us.

Finally, come face to face with the bones of the dead when you descend into the ground below the Church of Santa Maria della Concezioni. The aptly named ‘Bone Chapel’ is home to the remains of 4,000 Capuchin monks and their bones are on display to remind visitors of the fleeting nature of life.

Explore Rome’s ghostly past at night

Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome after dark

Rome at night is a completely different city to the bustling one you’re used to during the day. Join us on our Rome Ghost Tour at night to get to know the city’s legends, ghostly inhabitants and mysterious stories as the moon rises. In a city as old as Rome, supernatural occurrences are commonplace. Every road, alley and stone has a story to tell.

Piazzas, that in the day are places of social get-togethers, become grisly scenes at night when you discover that heretics were burned to death in them. We’ll also take you to one of the most romantic bridges in Rome and tell you of the countless eyewitness reports of a ghostly carriage charging over the bridge at sunrise.

These are just two of the frightening stories you’ll hear on our walking tour. More will be revealed if you’re brave enough to join us... *evil laugh*

The Eternal City has a dark side

Rome will always be the place of la dolce vita. But after you’ve experienced a darker side to Rome with us, you’ll know that there’s way more to this city than meets the eye. To get to know Rome in its entirety, you need to follow the steps into the underbelly of this ancient town. Tour with us and we’ll show you how!