Happy Halloween horror tour of Ancient Rome

By Go City Expert

You don’t normally associate the pagan festival of Halloween to the holy Catholic city of Rome, however, if you are looking for something spooky while you’re in Rome then look no further. We’ve compiled a list of our top five scariest spots across the city for you to get your fix. Just don’t blame us if it’s too frightening... Capuchin Crypt of Bones Just off Piazza Barberini, this eerie church is not one to be missed if you’re into bone-chilling experiences – pardon the pun. Located underneath the church is a crypt decorated with the bones of 4,000 monks from the Capuchin order, dating back to 1631. The bones were used decoratively to line the walls of the church and later the friars were to bury their own dead to continue the tradition. This impressive ossury is divided into five chapels and visitors are guided by natural light and low lit candles, adding to the eerie experience. Some might say it’s a macabre work of art, as the bones have been laid out in various designs and orders. You’ll notice some of the skeletons have been draped in the old Capuchin robes and look down at you from their place on the wall. Catacombs of St Callixtus These catacombs contain some of Rome’s most important martyrs and popes of Ancient Rome. It wasn’t until the first half of the second century that bodies were even buried underground, so these catacombs hold significant importance as being the first place to bury Christians all in one, joint place, together in tombs. The Catacombs of St Callixtus cover 90 acres and there are over 12 miles of pathways to explore, down four levels, over 20meters underground... Look out for the “little Vatican” the area where all the popes are buried; the crypt and statue of St Cecilia, patron of music, and also the ancient frescoes which decorate the walls. The Vatican Necropolis Found in the Vatican City, the Vatican Necropolis is the burial ground of the majority of, and the more recent, popes and is a hugely important place for Romans and Catholics to this day. Underneath St Peter’s Basilica, the catacombs are open to the public for you to walk through the tombs. Don’t miss the ‘graffiti wall’ which contains a number of ancient Latin scribbles, either. Some of the oldest tombs date back to the 3rd century and you’ll even be able to see the tombs of Apostle Peter, Circus Nero and Gaius of Rome. Museum of Purgatory Take the spook-scale up a notch to the Museum of Purgatory, a tiny room inside Sacra Cuore Suffragio (the Church of the Scared Heart). It’s believed that Father Jouet, a French missionary priest, saw a man’s face in the flames when a painting of the Virgin Mary caught fire, and he believed it was a soul whose body was buried on that spot, stuck in purgatory. So Jouet decided to build a church to pay tribute to all those souls. Many people haven’t heard of the Museum of Purgatory so you'll probably be the only visitors there at one time. Whether you believe in purgatory or not, it’s worth a visit just to see the artefacts on display that claim to be evidence of souls trapped, trying to get out.... Monster House If you need something slightly less scary and a bit more lighthearted, head up to the Spanish Steps where you can see the open mouthed door of the nicknamed Monster House. Although visitors aren’t allowed to enter the house, once owned by two baroque painters, the Zuccari brothers, you can stand outside and admire the bizarre entrance. In 1592 the Zuccaris decided it would be comical (one would assume?) to decorate their house with gaping mouthed windows and doors. Here you can see the giant features set in stone which, on a dark night, are somewhat less comfortable to look at...

Continue reading

Blog

Things to Do: Easter in Rome

Witness the beating, spiritual heart of the Italian capital with these fantastic things to do this Easter in Rome! As a deeply Catholic city, it's no surprise that Easter is kind of a big deal in Rome. The city is transformed by blue skies, vibrant florals, religious processions and some of the most moving masses of the year, which makes it one of the best yet busiest times of the year to visit the Italian capital. Whether you're Catholic or not, the city welcomes all people to join in the festivities and here's a few things to do this Easter in Rome! April, 14, Good Friday Via Crucis at the Colosseum As one of the most memorable ceremonies of the Catholic holiday, Via Crucis honours Jesus Christ's struggle to carry his own crucifix to his eventual crucifixion through a procession re-enactment. Beginning at the Colosseum at 9:15pm, Pope Francis will start the tradition with an unforgettable mass open to the public before a crucifix is carried to thirteen different locations named the Stations of the Cross. As one of the most moving and sombre rituals of the holiday, it's a great insight into Catholicism for those unfamiliar with its rituals. Visitors hoping to visit the Colosseum for sightseeing purposes may be disappointed however, as the Colosseum's regular tourism services are limited. Palm Sunday - Easter Sunday Easter Mass at St Peter’s Basilica Throughout Easter, St Peter's Basilica runs regular masses open to the public and besides Christmas, they're the most subscribed events of the year. Visitors hoping to sit in on its masses are advised to book their free tickets a few months in advance if they want to sit in the cathedral, however people are welcome to sit in St Peter's Square to watch the live broadcast. Key Easter masses led by the Pope include the Celebration of Penitential Rites on March 17 to herald the start of Easter, a Good Friday mass at 5pm on April 14, a vigil on Easter Saturday (April 15) at 8:30pm to welcome new Catholics to the church and finally the grand Easter Sunday mass at 10:15am April 17, Easter MondayPasquetta This Easter Monday celebration is one where families come together and leave the bustling city behind for the seaside, countryside or find themselves a tranquil spot in Borghese Park for a picnic. If you're keen on joining in the tradition, Rome's most popular beach Ostia Lido is just a short distance from Piramide - the area's also a fantastic place to explore once you've finished with your feast with the stunning Ostia Antica ruins towering over the area. April 17, Easter Monday Pasquetta Fireworks If you're planning on staying in the main Roman drag, it's worth securing a spot on the banks of the River Tiber to catch the breathtaking fireworks display over Castel Sant'Angelo. While the exact time of the show is hard to pin down, it's worth asking tourist information or your hotel concierge for an idea of when the fireworks will start. With Castel Sant'Angelo's statue of Archangel Michael set against a sky of rainbow lights, this picturesque event is one worth breaking out your camera for. Flowers Rome embraces spring and all its blooms during spring, with hundreds of thousands of flowers and a flood of greenery bringing the capital to life. (Last year, over 30,000 tulips, hyacinths and daffodils were used in just one Easter Sunday display.) Even if you don't intend to join the Easter celebrations, the city is still at its most beautiful around this time with the Spanish Steps lined with lilies and rhododendrons and Aventine Hill's Rose Garden in full bloom.
Megan Hills

Dreaming of that Rome city break?

Sign up to receive top travel tips

  • Thick check Icon