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Secrets of the Eternal City — 5 Hidden Gems of Rome

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The history and culture that define Rome keep travelers coming back again and again. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Pantheon, or the Trevi Fountain, there’s always something magical about those old cobbled streets and stories behind them. 

However, for anyone who wants to see a different side of the Eternal City, it’s certainly worth stepping off the usual tourist trails to explore some of the lesser known sights. Rome is bursting with hidden gems that most visitors either never see or never notice as they’re exploring the city, and by taking a little extra time to discover Rome’s secrets, you can enjoy a different perspective on this ancient metropolis that has so much to offer. 

So, read on to discover our top 5 hidden gems of Rome and enjoy a city that you never knew existed. 

Borromini’s Perspective

This fascinating and largely ignored corridor of Rome is definitely worth a visit. Located in the Palazzo Spada, Borromini’s Perspective is an optical illusion on the grandest scale, creating what seems like a 40-meter corridor in the space of just eight meters. Stand at the entrance to this other worldly piece of architecture and your mind will be blown! 

Designed with the help of a mathematician, Francesco Borromini built diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor to create this Roman oddity, placing a sculpture of just 60 cm at the end of the corridor to really nail the illusion. The sculpture sits in an open part of the building bathing it in daylight, also helping to support this real-world trompe l’oeil and fooling your brain into thinking that this corridor is much longer than it really is. 

Trastevere

Located just across the Tiber from the city center, Trastevere is a lesser-known district of Rome that rarely gets much attention outside of the Piazza di Santa Maria. However, if you’re willing to dive a little deeper, you’ll find some of Rome’s best food and drink in this pleasant neighborhood, alongside a calm atmosphere that the rest of the city would kill for. 

Leaving the Piazza di Santa Maria, you’ll quickly find that the number of tourists drops off considerably. Head to the Piazza di San Cosimato to begin with to check out the outdoor food market and stop for a coffee at one of the cafes in the square. Once you’ve had your fill, be sure to wander around the charming old streets of Trastevere to escape the usual tourist trail and see a different side to Rome. 

Gianicolo

Rome is the city of seven hills, and there are plenty of great views to be had if you’re willing to climb any one of them. However, for those that don’t already know, Rome actually has an eighth hill! Gianicolo offers some of the best views of the city if you’re willing to hike up from Trastevere, and it’s also a very pleasant place to explore away from the majority of tourists. 

While you’re there, make sure you check out the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola and the Piazzale Garibaldi where a cannon fires every day at noon. Additionally, the church of San Pietro in Montorio is worth a look as it is thought to be the site of St Peter’s crucifixion. 

Villa Borghese

As the largest public park in Rome, you’d think that the Villa Borghese would be overflowing with tourists on a daily basis—particularly in summer! However, most people come here to see the galleries and skip the 80 acres of lush green space, tranquil ponds, and winding paths of the gardens. It’s a true oasis nestles between the bustling city streets, and the perfect place to eat a picnic an unwind a little. 

Developed over the course of the 17th century, the gardens of the Villa contain many hidden places to just relax, alongside plenty of interesting buildings, fountains, and sculptures that will give you more insight into the history of this garden. Animal lovers will also be particularly pleased with the old city zoo that has now been turned into a Biopark with more than 200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. 

Quartiere Coppedè

It’s quite possible that if you blink, you’ll miss the Quartiere Coppedè entirely. As Rome’s smallest district, this unique little corner of the city is usually quiet and ripe for exploration by intrepid sightseers. It’s also home to some very interesting architectural wonders that are sure to stop you in your tracks as you discover this hidden gem for yourself. 

Start at the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento and wind your way through the Art Nouveau, medieval, baroque and Greek influences that were designed by architect Gino Coppedè between 1923 and 1927. It’s Rome’s equivalent of Gaudi’s Catalan masterpieces, and a surefire way to enjoy the eternal city from an entirely new perspective! 

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated and they are cities on our list to visit again once the Coronavirus allows. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy and we want to change that after Coronavirus. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them to learn about while stuck at home due to Coronavirus:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

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Adventure Travel

3 Tips For A Luxury Camping Experience

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If you are used to travelling in style and staying in high end hotels, camping is probably your idea of hell. Why would you spend a week sitting in a freezing cold tent, hiding from the rain when you could be relaxing around the pool in a nice hotel? But camping gives you a completely different travel experience and if you do it right, it can be very rewarding. If you invest in the right equipment, you can enjoy all of the good things about camping without any of the downsides. If you follow these simple tips, you will have a comfortable experience and fall in love with camping.

Image From Pixabay CCO License

Buy The Right Tent

The tent is the most important thing if you want a comfortable camping experience. All of those horror stories you hear about leaking tents only happen because people buy cheap tents. If you invest in a good quality tent, it should hold up to the weather and keep you dry and warm.

When you are buying a tent, you need to check the hydrostatic head rating. This gives you an indication of how much rain the tent can stand up to before leaking. The higher the rating, the less likely your tent is to leak. It is also important to consider the size of the tent and how easy it is to put up, especially if you are planning a road trip. You need to make sure that it fits into the car easily, and you also want to avoid anything that is too complicated to put up. However, be careful with pop-up tents because most of them will not stand up to the rain.

If you want the ultimate comfortable camping experience, you should consider a camper trailer instead. There are some great camper trailers that come with all of the same facilities that you would find in a basic hotel, so you can camp in comfort. If you really hate the idea of camping, this is the best option.

Get A Good Quality Sleeping Bag

If you are worried about being freezing cold at night while you are camping, you need to get a good quality sleeping bag. A cheap one will not be comfortable and it won’t keep you warm, so you need to make sure that you buy a good thermal one. Sleeping directly on the floor will be uncomfortable as well, so you should invest in a sleeping mat as well. If you are willing to spend a little more on good sleeping equipment, you will be nice and comfortable while camping.

Pack Good Food

The food is another big issue for people when they go camping, but there is no need to live on beans all week. You can get some great dehydrated camping food packs so, as long as you take a small camping stove, you can still eat proper meals. If you pack a coolbox and freeze some food before you go, it should last a while so you can have barbecues as well. As long as you plan ahead, there’s no reason why you can’t eat well while you are camping.

Camping doesn’t have to be the nightmare experience that you think it does. If you follow these simple tips, you can have a luxury camping experience and enjoy all of the benefits of the great outdoors.

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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