Secret Rome: an underground tour to discover the Horti Sallustiani

Rome is one of the most visited European capitals in the world, especially by foreign tourists who want to discover its most famous monuments such as the Colosseum, the Altare della Patria, Piazza Navona, the Vatican City and many others, but there are some places still unknown by mass tourism hiding in the heart of the eternal city: let's see what they are. For those who want to discover the most secret and mysterious Rome, there are some itineraries or monuments of characteriside by an incomparable beauty that will surely surprise you. Among the hidden wonders inside the Capitoline city, we find the famous Horti Sallustiani, an important archaeological site completely renovated and open to the public.

The Horti Sallustiani: how to get there

The Horti Sallustiani are located in the historical centre of Rome in one of the most beautiful and popular areas of the capital, delimited by Via XX Settembre in the south, via Salaria in the west and Via Veneto to the east. To get to the Horti Sallustiani, located in Piazza Sallustio 21, you can take different means of transport, even the car, since the area isn't included in the controlled traffic zone of Rome. If you want to get to the Horti Sallustiani by unerground, the closest stops are Barberini or Termini, just 15 minutes walk from the archaeological site. If you travel by train, Termini station is only 1 km from the entrance of the Horti Sallustiani. Being located in the historical centre of Rome, you can visit the several churches or admire the external facades of the elegant buildings nearby.

Horti Sallustiani or Giardini di Sallustio

The Horti Sallustiani took this name because they were bought by the historian Caio Sallustio Crispo in the first century BC, who squandered all his money to transform them into his private home and he actually built there his elegant and luxurious residence. During his life, several interventions were carried out within the Horti Sallustiani; moreover, this expansion continued thanks to his descendant Sallustio Crispo, known for being the confidant of the emperors Tiberius and Augustus. By the death of Sallustio Crispo, the Horti Sallustiani returned property of the imperial state and, in those years, they did not undergo relevant changes. By Aureliano, in 270-275 AD, the Horti di Sallustio underwent a profound restyling and they got also equipped by a large riding stable, a monumental portico and a rich and luxuriant garden. The last intervention was done by Aureliano, but in the following centuries, the garden got completely abandoned and also its valuable palaces began their slow decline. After several decades of restoration and huge resources invested, it is now possible to admire the Horti Sallustiani now also locations for events, conferences, cultural events and much more.

What to see in the Horti Sallustiani

The Horti Sallustiani were considered the largest monumental park in the ancient Rome, even though over the centuries its borders have decreased and the size of the garden is considerably smaller than in the past. The monumental park of the Horti Sallustiani is concentrated within the "Valle Sallustiana", a depression that separates the Pincio from the Quirinale district and where it is thought there was a huge Circus, similar to the Colosseum, but of this structure no trace remains. The Sallustian Obelisk was found in the Valley, now located near Trinità dei Monti. According to the opinion of many historians, the valley was occupied by a luxuriant garden, overlooked by the residential buildings. At the entrance of the valley, thanks to some remains found on site, it is thought there was an artificial lake, typical example of the noble architecture of the ancient Rome. The best known part of the Horti Sallustiani is included in the tourist itinerary of the secret Rome, since it is located 14 metres below the road surface; thanks to a restoration plan promoted by UnionCamere, the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce and other partners, it is possible to visit the underground area with large rooms where cultural events and events take place. The basements of the Horti Sallustiani house a large architectural complex consisting of three buildings, but only a few rooms have been restored and opened to the public. The main structure, where the UnionCamere events take place, is a circular room with a dome and arches, valuable frescoes and two side rooms, dating back to 126 AD. Walking in the park of the Horti sallustiani, you can admire other important buildings such as an ancient Spa, a temple dedicated to Venus, a stately domus and some sculptures. In the stately domus, you can still see the rich floors with white tessellated mosaics, an ancient latrine, three rooms where traces of frescoes and paintings dating back to the first century BC are still visible. Many sculptures of the Horti Sallustiani have been placed in the most important museums of the city, such as the Dying Gaul, the Ludovisi Gauland the Throne Ludovisi. Over the years, in addition to the original buildings, several other structures have been added that house the UnionCamere offices and headquarters. The neo-Gothic style cottage built in 1902 by the engineer Augusto Fallani is also worth of a visit.

Where to stay to discover secret Rome

If you want to closely discover secret Rome and its underground Horti Sallustiani, we suggest you to stay in a hotel situated in the city centre, to be able to reach the main cultural sites by feet. Among the several hotels in Rome, one of the best - not only for the location, but also for the beauty of the rooms and the quality of the services - is the Hotel Colosseum, an elegant and refined hotel where you can spend a relaxing and comfortable stay. The Hotel Colosseum is located in Via Sforza, in one of the most famous streets in the historical centre, a stone's throw from the main monuments of the Eternal City. One of the advantages of staying at the Hotel Colosseum is to be able to enjoy a breathtaking view of the capital, directly from the hotel's furnished terrace.

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