Dubbed the Eternal City, and indeed one of the world’s oldest ones at that, 2,776 years old and counting, having survived the rise and fall of civilizations, Rome is a bucket list destination for millions of Americans heading to Europe.

Sadly, no visit to Rome is exactly, well, stress-free.

From the long wait lines at the doors of the Vatican to the jam-packed streets of Trastevere, to the fluctuating prices for most hotels, it requires (a lot of) patience, advance planning, and most importantly, a hefty budget.

Fortunately, Rome is not the only marvel the Romans left behind upon their demise: these 4 lesser-known gems also belonged to the once-glorious empire, and much like their spiritual capital, they have their very own ‘Colosseums’, pastel-colored cityscapes and delectable cuisine.

Oh, have we mentioned also there are smaller crowds in summer?

Verona, Italy

Young Tourist Exploring Piazza Bra, A Historic Square In Verona Famous For Its Ancient Arena, Italy, Southern Europe

Verona is a charming city in Northern Italy, a short one-hour train ride from Venice, that’s best associated with Romeo and Juliet: though it is a work of fiction, visitors from all over the world flock here to pose with the famed Juliet statue, and soak up the melancholic, yet romantic atmosphere.

Shakespearean tragedies aside, Verona is distinct for being one of the best-maintained Roman settlements to have survived in the modern era: its arena, built in 30 AD, continues to accommodate guests for live performances, unlike the venue-turned-museum Colosseum.

Bridge Ponte Pietra in Verona, italy

From pop artists to opera performers, this arena is still at the heart of Verona’s entertainment scene, and it’s a permanent reminder of the city’s great past, as are the many basilicas scattered around town, the fortified Scaliger Bridge, spanning the Adige River, and the countless medieval piazzas.

Verona is by no means ‘undiscovered’—as mentioned already, it’s been the go-to spot for ill-fated lovers since Romeo and Juliet was first presented over four centuries ago—but it is cheaper than Rome, with overnights in central hotels costing from $91, and tourists spending $58 on meals per day.

Nîmes, France

Aerial Panoramic View Of Nimes Arena In Nimes, An Ancient Roman City In Southern France, Southern Europe

The most faithful daughter of Rome outside modern-day Italy, Nîmes is located in the south of France, near the Mediterranean coast, and it’s famous for its notoriously-Italic character, in stark contrast with Paris’ Northern European, Haussmann aesthetics, and balmy weather.

No wide, leafy boulevards, but narrow, pedestrianized alleys instead, lined by narrow, ocher-colored buildings with Italy’s classic green shutters; certainly no Eiffel Tower, but a first-century, UNESCO-listed Roman temple second in state of preservation only to Rome’s own Pantheon.

Maison Carree, A Historic Roman Temple In Nimes, Southern France, Southern Europe

That’s the 2,000-year-old, white-limestone Maison Carrée we’re talking about, and it’s only one of several Roman leftovers Nîmes is proud to claim for itself: others include a functional double-tiered arena, the tri-level Pont du Gard aqueduct, and the magnificent Temple of Diana.

Visiting Nîmes, as well as the wider historical region of Provence, tourists should expect to spend $44 on meals per day, $26 on local transportation, and between $50-72 per night on single rooms in modest hotels within walking distance of the arena.

Arles, France

Arles Arena In Arles, An Ancient Roman Arena In Southern France, Southern Europe

We’re not ready to leave Provence just yet: believe it or not, only a half-hour train from Nîmes, there’s another well-preserved Roman settlement over two millennia old, with a compact ‘mini Colosseum’, historic abbeys, and cobbled streets leading to summery flower gardens.

Arles is Southern France’s best-kept secret and a Rome look-alike most Americans have yet to discover.

Needless to say, the main attraction is the amphitheater, which, similarly to Nîmes’ and Verona’s, hosts large-scale events to this day.

Other than paying the amphitheater a visit, tourists can get lost in the maze-like Old Town, sample traditional provençale food in local brasseries, admire the 12th century, Romanesque Church of St. Trophime, designated a heritage monument by UNESCO, and visit a farmers’ market.

Besides being incredibly pretty and essentially a miniature Rome, this storied French town is surprisingly affordable to visit, with private rooms in central hotels and guesthouses starting from $56 this July, in spite of the Olympics-led price surge elsewhere in France.

Pula, Croatia

Pula Amphitheater, A Colosseum Style Ancient Arena In The Small Istrian Town Of Pula, Croatia, South Eastern Europe

Our last pick for this list of equally-gorgeous Roman dupes is Pula, a coastal resort town in Croatia’s overlooked Istrian Peninsula: it boasts access to the sea, more competitive prices, moderate crowds, and an architectural wealth that rivals Rome’s.

Pula has a protected harbor, left virtually untouched since Ancient Times, it’s dotted with ruins, such as the landmark Pula Arena, an amphitheater constructed in the 1st century, and one of the world’s six largest still standing, and it’s highly sought-after for its unspoiled beaches.

The Port Of Pula Seen From The Adriatic Sea, Istrian Peninsula, Croatia, South Eastern Europe

Within driving distance of the main city, there are countless smaller seaside villages bounded by sand-and-pebble beaches and the turquoise Adriatic, except on this part of the Croatian coast, there’s far fewer tourists compared to the far-more popular Split or Dubrovnik.

Needless to say, the ‘Rome by the Adriatic‘ is incredibly affordable, with plenty of family-owned restaurants serving homecooked seafood pasta for $12-15, generous double gelato scoops for a negligible $4, and guesthouses as cheap as $54.

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