Creepy Capital - Rome, Italy

Rome isn't just about gelato and ogling art. When it comes to eerie corners, underground chambers and messages from the 'undead', it's a city that holds its own.  Admittedly Rome's chaotic, sun-bathed piazzas may seem an unlikely setting for an atmospheric encounter with the dark side, but once you've seen the Sistine Chapel and ancient ruins, get off the tourist trail in favour of the Italian capital's lesser-known, creepier side.

Dead Famous

The first stop on any 'creepy crawl' of Rome must be the Verano Cemetery, a short walk east of Termini station. The monuments and statues - many are renowned works of art - give Verano its reputation as one of Rome's strangest open-air museums.

The more grandiose graves are guarded by marble statues of bereft mourners and winged angels, while other tombs bear more resemblance to large concrete filing cabinets where the deceased are stacked on top of each other.

It's been a burial site since Roman times, but modern city dwellers have been coming here for some RIP since 1805. Some famous inhabitants include Italian filmmakers Roberto Rossellini, Marcello Mastroianni and Luchino Visconti. 

Going underground

 The protestant cemetery in Testaccio (near Piramide Metro station) is a leafy haven away from the noisy city, and is also the final resting place for British poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.

If tree-sheltered tombs and the glamour of dead poets isn't gritty enough for you, try going underground at one of Rome's early Christian burial grounds. The Catacombs of St Sebastian (on via Appia Antica) are more than 1600 years old, with a network of tunnels and galleries stretching 11km.

The bodies are no longer in situ, but there are mosaics and mausoleums, as well as a damp musty smell to evoke the centuries of burial. 

Cryptic Tour 

Round off your visit to the darker side of Rome with a peek at another subterranean site - the crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione on via veneto.

It'd decorated with the bones of 4000 Capuchin monks, arranged in incongruous flower patterns. If that's not enough to freak you out, read the crypt's inscription: "What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be."