3 Beautiful Lesser-Known Churches in Rome

| September 18, 2015

During our recent day in Rome, we visited a few religious sites that aren’t on your typical itinerary with the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.  Two of the churches we visited, along with a third church from a previous trip to Rome, make up this list of 3 great little churches in Rome that you don’t hear about.

At the very least, this list means Fewer crowds!  No lines!  Easier on the kids!

San Pietro in Vincoli

When asking for directions or hailing a cab to this church, I must stress the importance of being very clear that you want to go to San Pietro in Vincoli; otherwise, you’re likely to be directed toward Basilica di San Pietro (the famous St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, which everyone typically flocks to). Make sure your listener understands, before taking their direction.

Very unassuming exterior

Very unassuming exterior

So, what does this simple little church have that makes it so special?  Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses.  If you’re only in Rome for a day and don’t want to spend your whole day standing in long lines, this is a fantastic way to take in one of Michaelangelo’s great works.

michaelangelo's moses statue


Basilica San Clemente

It is rather unfortunate that there are no pictures from our visit to this basilica, as it is my favorite. With over 2,000 years of history, it’s a church from the 1800’s situated atop a 4th-Century basilica, atop a First-Century building, atop a building destroyed by fire in 64 AD.  It’s a church atop pagan and Roman ruins–seriously awesome.  To walk into the basilica itself is free; there is a small fee to visit the layers below the church.  Totally worth it!  You walk through dark little tunnels, and past pictures you can still make out, painted on walls that became buried for hundreds and hundreds of years.  This basilica is located very close to the Colosseum and is an absolute must-see.

Sant’Ignazio di Loyola

This church houses some vivid frescoes.  But what makes the church unique is its “fake dome”. A painting on the ceiling gives off the look of a dome. It’s definitely worth popping into the church for a peek!

fake dome

fake dome


The three locations, on foot:

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Category: Europe, Family Travel, In Germany A Broad blog, Italy, Top Tens

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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