Dilit Italian School

Unveiling Subterranean Wonders: Exploring Rome's Hidden Depths

Have you ever wondered why there aren't so many metro lines in Rome? Of course it is not so easy to answer but one of the main  reasons is certainly the archaeological richness of the subsoil. Digging and building the subway is expensive and difficult, also because wherever you dig there will be many archeological sites that must be studied, cataloged and documented before one can proceed. It is not strange, in fact it’s quite common to find archaeologists working side by side with engineers in many construction sites in the city.


But what can be seen of Subterranean Rome?


The first answer that  surely comes to mind is: the catacombs. It is true that there are quite a few and not only Christian ones in all parts of the city, such as the Jewish catacombs of Vigna Randanini; then there are also the necropolis, once open-air cemeteries, which over time have been buried by the buildings and temples built over them, such as the Vatican Necropolis, a non-Christian cemetery in which Saint Peter is said to be buried.

In addition to the catacombs and necropolises, it is possible to visit some very interesting sites, such as the  subterranean of the Basilica of San Clemente in which there is an ancient mithraeum of the second century AD:  the basilica is actually the testimony of how  Rome was built, on buildings no longer in use and abandoned and used as a foundation for successive buildings. In fact the Basilica of San Clemente is testimony of the various religious buildings erected from the second century to the sixteenth century, 1300 years of history all in one place. The Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere also has underground environments which according to legend was the house of Santa Cecilia.









The history of civil buildings can be observed in two very interesting museums:  the Crypta Balbi, one of  Rome’s national museums and above all at Palazzo Valentini, where the reconstruction of the  Domus Romane, found thanks to the excavations in the cellars of the building has brought to light two remarkable houses of the 2nd/ 3rd century AD. C.; the visit is very interesting thanks to the virtual restoration  that helps us understand what these environments were like in the Imperial era.


There is a place, however, that you can visit without paying a ticket or paying very little and it is the metro station, line C, at San Giovanni,  thought of  just like a subterranean  museum: upon entering you will find pictures and images that will accompany you on the journey “below” together with the archaeological finds that were excavated during the works. 


Are there only  ancient subterranean environments?


The answer is no: in Rome it is possible to visit  several bunkers built during the Second World War: you can see a small one right at Palazzo Valentini without forgetting the Bunker of Villa Torlonia, wanted by Mussolini for his own safety but never used.


These are just a few suggestions, if you find more let us know!


Have fun.


Test your level

Contact us

Thank you for contacting us. We have sent you a confirmation message. Please check to make sure it hasn’t ended up in the spam folder by mistake.
We will reply as soon as possible.