There are so many ancient churches, cathedrals and chapels in Rome. Why hop on the train to visit the Basilica San Paolo? Less people, for a start. The most stunning church interior. And an amazing shop, filled with potions and lotions created by monks. Oh, and a classic old-school Roman bar/cafe steps away from the front door.

Grandeur and a great bar outside.

Grandeur and a great bar outside.

The Basilica San Paolo bar is steps from the church.

The Basilica San Paolo bar is steps from the church.

The Basilica San Paolo (dedicated to Saint Paul) is cool and quiet on a hot day and holds plenty of secrets. Just remember to dress respectfully when you visit. This is no place for your cut-off denim shorts or plunging Kim Kardashian singlet. As you walk towards the church from the train station nearby, look to your left and you’ll see a lovely old alleyway with this cult shop at the end. The Spezieria Monastica is where the monks’ handmade bathroom products (and pantry lines) are sold.

The shop! The Spezieria Monastica.

The shop! The Spezieria Monastica.

Unique presents to take home.

Unique presents to take home.

The monks make essential oils (like tea tree oil) and also some amazing fragrances and elixirs. Some come straight from Florence and you won’t find them in any department store. It’s a great place to visit after you’ve experienced the church itself, which might take you one hour to fully explore. The confession box (below) has served Roman Catholics for years.

Cool, quiet and beautiful inside.

Cool, quiet and beautiful inside.

The confession box at Basilica San Paolo.

The confession box at Basilica San Paolo.

Getting here is simple and the Basilica San Paolo is signposted from the station. Wandering around is more fun – once you’ve enjoyed a glass of vino at the bar nearby and done a little shopping to benefit the monasteries. Holy water trickles from a nearby wall, which is just one of the details which make this part of Rome so special. Look for the skylight (like a peephole) in the ceiling too, which illuminates the perfectly tiled floors.

Look for the skylight inside.

Look for the skylight inside.

Holy water trickling from the wall.

Holy water trickling from the wall.

This is not the most famous place in Rome, but it’s one of the most interesting. Don’t forget to take home something from the shop afterwards. This shampoo is around eight euro. You’re looking for the station marked BASILICA S. PAOLO when you head off – for just a few stops you’ll have an unforgettable couple of hours in a place that is truly ‘local Rome.’ Train map below.

Made by monks.

Made by monks.

Basilica San Paolo train Termini, Colosseo, Circo Massimo

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