2. Villa of the Quintilii The Villa of the Quintilii was once the largest and most spectacular residence in Rome and still offers panoramic views out over the countryside and encroaching suburban sprawl. The second-century AD villa was home to two brothers from the powerful Quintilii family, both of whom were murdered by an ambitious emperor with designs on their luxurious pad. The vast complex once boasted thermal baths, a private aqueduct and a hippodrome for private chariot races. The villa sits between the ancient road of Appia Antica and its concrete cousin Appia Nuova and can be reached by bus, bicycle, or a lengthy stroll along the most famous Roman thoroughfare, the Appian Way, which dates back to 312 BC. Via Appia Nuova 1092 (also accesssible from 290 Via Appia Antica on weekends April-October); $7.45; seven-day pass includes entry to Baths of Caracalla and Tomb of Cecilia Metella; bookings +39 06 3996 7700.
4. Pyramid of Gaius Cestius The Pyramid of Gaius Cestius was built between 18 BC and 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo, a leading Roman powerbroker with a penchant for staging sacred banquets. The marvellous marble structure is 36 metres high and nearly 30 metres wide and its Latin inscription tells us it was built in 330 days. All the city's other pyramids were destroyed, but this one sits like a precious jewel in the middle of one of Rome's busiest thoroughfares, Via Ostiense. But in a way that adds to its charm. Twice a month visitors can go beyond the thick exterior walls and venture inside the barrel-vaulted chamber to see delicate wall frescoes depicting dancing maidens in the Pompeiian style. Via del Campo Boario; $6.80; open 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month for individuals at 11am and groups at 10am and noon; tours only in Italian; bookings +39 06 3996 7700.
Long lines gather outside the home of Rome's greatest emperor, Augustus, on the Palatine Hill. Only a handful of people are allowed in at a time and admission is at odd hours. Patience is most definitely a virtue here. Experts believe the four rooms, discovered in the 1970s under the ruins of Augustus's sprawling imperial palace, were part of a small home where he lived when he was simply Julius Caesar's adopted son, Octavian. They are lined with fragments of finely etched frescoes, in dazzling red, white and green and considered some of the finest examples of Roman wall paintings. These evocative rooms give you an intimate insight into one of the greatest leaders of the ancient world. Via di San Gregorio 30; admission included in Colosseum and Roman Forum entry; May-Oct 10.30am-1.30pm Mon, 8.30am-1.30pm Wed, Thu, Sat and Sun; closed Tue and Fri; bookings +39 06 3996 7700.
8. National Museum of Rome Whether it is the re-creation of 2000-year-old rooms, the collection of ancient coins or the fine gold jewellery once worn by Roman aristocrats, the National Museum of Rome has something to turn your head. The museum presents a vibrant picture of how people lived and decorated their homes during the Roman Empire, and its archaeological collection is so large that it is housed in four separate locations across the Italian capital. There are amazing exhibits spanning a period from the second century BC through the fifth century AD, including intricate mosaics, stunning recreations of rooms from Villa Farnesina and the remains of ancient graves. The first floor of the Palazzo Massimo site was recently made over to showcase sculptures, including beautiful copies of The Sleeping Hermaphrodite and Myron's Discus Thrower. On the ground level are the remains of one of the world's oldest calendars, dating back to the Augustan era. Palazzo Massimo, Largo di Villa Peretti; Crypta Balbi, Via delle Botteghe Oscure; Palazzo Altemps, Piazza di Sant'Apollinare; Baths of Diocletian, Viale Enrico de Nicola; Tue-Sun 9am-7.45pm, closed Mon; $8.65 ticket valid for three days at Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano