It's the weekend, and we all need something to take our minds off the state of the world. I've been thinking about Rome, so indulge me, if you will, as I present ten places to go in the Eternal City that *many* tourists tend to skip!

10. Santa Maria del Popolo - This church has the most heavy metal foundational myth in the city. Stories say it was built over Nero's tomb (it wasn't) and that evil spirits used to linger in a tree on the site until they were banished. 

10a. Come here for the Caravaggio paintings in one of the chapels, as well as the gnarly baroque skeletons on some of the memorials.

9. Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - Another church, this one built over a Roman temple. 90% of the saint & theologian Catherine of Siena is here - her head is on display in Siena. Used to be HQ of the Inquisition, around the time Galileo was doing his thing. 

8. National Roman Museum - The repository of the Roman remains dug up during the redevelopment of Rome. It's been very busy since the metro system has been built. Check out the preserved wall paintings for a dose of vivid colour. 

7. The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metalla - If you want an idea of how Rome's inhabitants recycled stuff over the centuries, check out this mausoleum to an aristocratic woman from the time of the Republic, turned into a fortress. Just off the Appian Way too. 

6. Catacombs of St Sebastian - Home of a couple of famous martyrs, people have been interred here since the 3rd century, at least. You're taken on a guided tour to see some pretty spectacular, blingy painted tombs of the wealthy. Also off the Appian Way. 

5. Ara Pacis - A massive altar to Pax, the Roman Goddess of Peace, built during the time of the first Emperor, Augustus. Paintakingly reconstructed, and using nifty multimedia to interpret it, I'm surprised more people don't drop in. 

4. Keats/Shelley House - Poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats spent time in Rome, Keats never left, dying of tuberculosis in this house. Great little museum, and the best view ever of the Spanish Steps on a balcony out the back. 

3. Santa Maria della Vittoria - A fairly unassuming church, but for the massive marble 'Esctacy of St Theresa' by the sculptor Bernini, a triumph of his art and the source of years of debate - is she *supposed* to look like she is having an orgasm? 

2. St Stefano Rotondo - You've never seen anything like this. The walls of this ancient church are covered in 17th century paintings of various saints being martyred in extremely gruesome ways, with a helpful guide at the bottom to tell you who's who. 

1. Capuchin Crypt - The Capuchin Order of monks are based in Rome and their brothers swore a vow of obedience and loyalty to it. Some took it a step further, donating their bodies to be used in macabre, but strangely beautiful displays. 

Hope you enjoyed that. The whole tour guide/travel writer thing is a bit of a passion of mine.

Where should I do next? /FIN

You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.


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