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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

Ah, Rome! The beauty, the history, the culture . . . the hundreds of people with selfie sticks blocking your view of the Trevi Fountain. While throngs of summer tourists, combined with the ever-changing pandemic situation, might have you putting Europe plans on hold, it’s never too soon to start thinking about next year. And if Rome is where you’re headed next, you’ll be glad to know that even in such a popular tourist destination, there are peaceful hidden oases that offer a respite from the chaos. These spots are worth a visit even if you aren’t an introvert seeking relief from the masses of humanity, and they’ll give you the space you need to fortify yourself for the hours-long lines at the Vatican.

RELATED: 10 reasons to add Emilia-Romanga to your Italy itinerary now (VIDEO)

If you’re wandering the busy streets of Trastevere . . . slip into the Museo Orto Botanico di Roma

Orto Botanico

Orto Botanico

A slightly neglected jewel in the heart of the bustling Trastevere neighborhood across the Tiber, this 12-acre botanic garden offers walking paths on a gentle incline, where you can admire some 3000 species of flora from all over the world while you’re hiding from the city. Shaded trails surrounded by bamboo, four greenhouses, and a rose garden offer various sensory delights. The garden was originally owned by Queen Christina of Sweden, who moved to Rome in the 17th century after abdicating her throne. Two giant stone bathtubs from her former residence have been put into service as massive planters for greenhouse plants.

Find your Trastevere hotel here.

If you explore the Castel Sant’Angelo . . . visit the Ara Pacis

Ara Pacis

Ara Pacis

The “Altar of Peace,” basically an ancient piece of propaganda about the glory of the Roman religion under the rule of Emperor Augustus, attracts its fair share of visitors for its carved images of nature, friezes of the imperial family, and allegorical representations of fertility and abundance. But the airy pavilion designed by contemporary architect Richard Meier that encloses it offers a sanctuary of order, light, and space that is a welcome antidote to the heat and noise of central Rome. Downstairs, a gallery space features a rotating exhibit of art, culture, and photography related to the city.

Find a hotel close to the Castel Sant’Angelo here. 

If you stop to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain . . . visit Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica

A trompe l’oeil fresco at Palazzo Barberini

A trompe l’oeil fresco at Palazzo Barberini

If you go to the under-visited Palazzo Barberini and its Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica museum at the right time, you might have the room with Raphael’s luminous painting La Fornarina or Hans Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII to yourself. If not, there are plenty of other galleries in this massive palazzo that offer peace and quiet as you contemplate its soaring ceilings and gorgeous frescoes—not to mention the extensive formal gardens, which truly feel like a secret hidden in plain sight. Note that the very modern and clean bathrooms by the entrance can be visited without admission.

Find your hotel near the Trevi Fountain here.

ALSO: Earn towards your next trip with every stay, only with Orbitz Rewards!

If you are in the trendy Monti neighborhood . . . stop by the gardens of Villa Aldobrandini

Villa Aldobrandini

Villa Aldobrandini

A small sign and a stairway on Via Mazzarino lead up to the elevated gardens of Villa Aldobrandini, Rome’s version of a humble neighborhood park. It’s a little unkempt, but that only adds to its hidden charm. Residents play with their dogs and gossip amid palm trees and artfully displayed fragments of statues while scruffy teenagers play music on their phones and smoke. It’s a great spot to view the upper floors, steeples, and statuary of nearby buildings and statues, and you can peep through a fence at the villa itself, which is not open to the public.

Find a great hotel in Monti here.

If you’re checking out the Spanish Steps . . . escape to the Villa Borghese Gardens

Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese

They’re not exactly unknown, but the gardens’ convenient location near the famous steps makes them an attractive destination when you’re tired of crisscrossing the streets and window shopping at the luxury boutiques around Via Condotti. There are plenty of benches and places to sit when you enter the park off of the Piazza del Populo, or you can venture deeper in to discover sumptuous fountains, follies, shaded groves, and a boating lake.

Book a great stay near the Spanish Steps here.

When you’re done browsing the produce at Campo de’ Fiori . . . walk a few paces to Piazza Farnese

Fountain in Piazza Farnese

Fountain in Piazza Farnese

While the Campo de’ Fiori is almost always clogged with tourists exploring the market stalls of flowers, fruit, and vegetables, its neighbor Piazza Farnese is a wide-open space that literally offers a breath of fresh air while you are exploring the winding streets and much-visited sites of the historic center. Two massive fountains offer the soothing sounds of water. Score a seat at one of the cafes to linger and enjoy this gracious square while taking in the view of the imposing Palazzo Farnese, now home to the French embassy.

Find a great hotel near Campo de’ Fiori here. 

If you need wide open spaces . . . go to Parco degli Acquedotti

Parco degli Acquedotti

Parco degli Acquedotti

Just a 15-minute Metro ride (take Line A and get off at the Giulio Agricola stop ) and a short walk from the center of Rome, this off-the beaten-trail attraction has no entrance staff, no admission fees, no facilities—just a sprawling, somewhat austere expanse studded with the massive ruins of the great aqueducts of ancient Rome, which used to carry water from the nearby mountains to the urban center. You could spend the entire day wandering around gazing at the clusters of umbrella pines and hearing nothing but the sound of wind, birds, and insects, or rent a bicycle just outside the park to cover more ground. Either way, you’ll get an increasingly rare glimpse of the storied Roman Campagna, the golden countryside of the Lazio region that captivated artists from Claude Lorrain to Federico Fellini.

Book a lovely hotel near Parco degli Acquedotti here.

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Tagged: Europe, Italy

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Heather Kenny

Heather Kenny

Heather is a Chicago writer with a serious travel jones. She draws comics occasionally, blogs sporadically, and tweets quite often at @heatherkenny.

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