Rome, the Weird Way

Yes, there's a pyramid in Rome – and yes, it's inspired by actual Egyptians

Rome is one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the world – even non-travelers are familiar with Rome landmarks like the Collosseum and Vatican City. To be sure, transcending the typical Rome vacation can be difficult, if only on account of being surrounded by throngs of tourists who are perfectly content to see the basic attractions. Take your next Rome trip to a different level by devoting a day to some of Rome's stranger sights. 

  • 01 of 05
    The Catacombs of San Sebastian
    Patrick Denke/ Wikimedia Commons

    Catacombs are a pretty typical addition to most Rome itineraries – but don't go rolling your eyes just yet. While most tourists visit the Catacombs of San Callisto, famous for its papal crypt, you should visit the Catacombs of San Sebastian. One reason many travelers miss this particular catacomb is that, well, Saint Sebastian isn't very famous. The real attraction at this catacomb is the series of footprints, now cast in marble, which are said to be those of Jesus Christ.

  • 02 of 05

    Zuccari Palace

    Zuccari Palace
    Sailko via Wikimedia Commons

    Located on Via Sistina just, uh, steps from the Spanish Steps is Zuccari Palace, also affectionally called the "Monster House." The brainchild of a 16th-century artist named Federico Zuccari, the palace terrifies you from the moment you walk up to it: All its doors and windows appear to be the mouths of devilish-looking monsters. The good news is that you won't be digested into demon poo upon entering the Palace, which is home to an eclectic collection of fine art.

  • 03 of 05

    Mount Testaccio

    Mount Testaccio
    Ptyx/Wikimedia Commons

    One of the things I always find so surprising about Rome is how it upends my belief that certain creature comforts we enjoy are modern – say, drinking fountains, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, many of our worst habits began in Rome, like the landfill, which is essentially what Mount Testaccio is. Well, there's no "essentially" about it: This mountain wouldn't exist were it not for the thousands of glass bottles buried underneath its muddy surface.

    As its name suggests, Mount Testaccio overlooks the Rome neighborhood of the same name which, while decidedly un-weird, is home to Roman cuisine that is definitely not of this world.

  • 04 of 05

    Pyramid of Cestius and Protestant Cemetery

    Pyramid of Cestius
    Nico Tondini/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

    You might notice a stop on Line A of the Rome Metro called "Piramide." No, that word doesn't mean something different in Italian – there's an actual pyramid in Rome!

    Indeed, the Pyramid of Cestius dates back to the first or second century A.D., when Egypt was all the rage in imperial Rome. As an added bonus, you can visit the nearby Protestant Cemetery (a novelty in the birthplace of Catholicism), which is not only the final resting place of poet John Keats but boasts some pretty awesome views of the pyramid as well.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Rome is home to literally thousands of hotels, but if you're going to see Rome the weird way, why not sleep strange as well? Many of Rome's best hotels boast interesting quirks and nuances, whether it's because of the age of their buildings, bizarre décor or something more sinister. Of course, no matter where you choose to stay in Rome, it's difficult to have an unspectacular time here – the don't call Rome the "Eternal City" for nothing.