Take a walk on the creepy side with this fascinating tour of Rome’s spookiest places. Together with an experienced guide, you’ll unearth some of the Eternal City’s darkest secrets, discover the ghost stories of landmarks such as the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Castel Sant’Angelo, and come face to face with the skeletal remains of some of Rome’s previous residents at the Capuchin Crypt. This walking tour is an intriguing dive into Rome’s long and twisted history.
What lies beneath
The group will meet at 18:00 at Piazza Barberini and head to the first stop of the tour – the Cripta dei Cappuccini, or the Capuchin Crypt as it’s known in English. Descending deep underground, you’ll see a side of Rome you’ve never seen before. The crypt contains the remains of an estimated 4,000 people, the majority of them thought to be monks of the Capuchin order, one of the strangest and most devout branches of the Catholic church.
Between 1631 – when the monks first arrived at the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini – and the end of the 19th century, the monks buried the remains of their brothers in the crypt. After the bodies decomposed, the bones were dug up and used as elaborate, yet bizarre decoration. Although the sight of carefully stacked bones and skulls, and mummified remains dressed in monks clothing might be macabre to modern sensibilities, the Catholic church says the crypt is, instead, a reminder of the fleeting nature of life on Earth.
Secrets of the historic centre
The tour continues above ground with a walk through Rome’s cobbled streets to reach the Pantheon. Almost 2,000 years old, this impressive structure was built as a pagan temple to ‘all the gods’ – not the Christian church it is now – and boasts the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. This place of worship is also the burial site of a number of famous Italians including Raphael, Queen Margherita and King Vittorio Emanuele II – who many believe returns to the Pantheon in spirit form to watch over his old kingdom.
Next up, Piazza Navona, a beautiful Baroque square known for its stunning architecture and dazzling fountains. The tour guide will explain not just the history of the square but also insider information about local myths and legends connected to this spot. Most tourists have never heard the story of Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj, for example, who fled the city with the riches of the dying Pope Innocent X, or of Costanza de Cupis, whose severed hand is said to appear in the reflection of one of the windows on the square.
The final stop of the tour takes place outside Castel Sant’Angelo, which was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and later converted into a military fortress. It was on the bridge outside the castle, that Beatrice Cenci, a 16th century noblewoman, was brutally beheaded. The tour will conclude with her story – and maybe even a sighting of the ghost of Beatrice, cradling her head in her hands as she crosses the bridge.
Your guide will meet you in front of the Unicredit Bank, Piazza Barberini. The guide will have a sign with the name of the agency and the logo.From there you will follow your guide to enter the Capuchin Crypt. After the visit of the Crypt the tour continues to Pantheon and Piazza Navona. The final stop of the tour takes place outside Castel Sant’Angelo.
In front of the Unicredit Bank, Piazza Barberini, 40, 00187 Roma RM, Italy. The guide will have a sign with the name of the agency and the logo.
20 minutes before the tour time
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