This is a walking tour of Rome. Rome is a place of endless fascination filled with hidden wonders, and one could spend months exploring it.  What I provide are highlights and a suggested route. The more time you have, the more I suggest you wander and get lost. I’ve arbitrarily divided this walking tour into three parts, or days.

The first day’s tour is of Renaissance and Baroque Rome.

The second day’s is of ancient Rome.

The third day’s is of hidden Rome and some missed highlights.

Day One: Renaissance Rome.

This is my favorite part of Rome, and the best for wandering. You can’t help but turn a corner and discover some jewel of a small piazza. The narrow winding streets keeps the traffic at bay. Other parts of Rome can be noisy and sweaty.

Start early because days in Rome can get hot. Since this is a walking tour, wear comfy shoes but if they are not equally fashionable, expect the Romans to sneer. Romans look at people from the shoes up.

Following is a map of all the places I highlight and the line represents the beginning of the walk. If this doesn’t load, link to:

Map of Rome

From wherever you are staying travel north to get to our first destination. (Take a cab from your hotel to the Piazza del Popolo.)

This is the northern gate of Rome, The Piazza del Popolo.

Even if you have already had breakfast, have a cappuccino and cornetto at Canova where Fellini would have had his morning repast. You’ll be stoked like a Roman for a few good hours of walking. In the picture above, it is on your left.

Canova

 

The part of Rome we will be visiting today is roughly in the shape of a triangle boundaried on the west by the River Tevere and on the east by a 2000 year old street called the Via del Corso.

 

From the Piazza del Popolo we’ll walk down to the Spanish Steps. Check out the charming streets Via del Babuino and Via Margutta, a street where artists live and work.

 

When you get to the steps, you can visit Keats’s place or hang out on the steps.

From the steps, walk a block or two on Via Dei Condotti, especially if you’ve decided your shoes are not fashionable enough.

Turn right on Via Bocca di Leone to get a taste of the beautiful fountains you’ll find everywhere.

Turn left and walk west in the direction of the river crossing the Via del Corso. Head south and west (roughly following the line on the map) toward Piazza Navona.  When you get to the piazza, check out Bernini’s fountain, and stop here to rest and have a ‘granita di cafe con panna,’ That is, expresso over ice with whipped cream. Yum.

Fortified, wander south toward campo di fiori.

 

Walk east through the Jewish Ghetto toward Piazza Mattei and the turtle fountain.

Walk south and east toward the portico d’Ottavia

Are you hungry? Stop for lunch. Try the artichokes at Da Giggetto. Have a ‘ mezzo litro di vino bianco’ or a bottle of Frascati, the local white wine. Fresh, cold, and unassuming. When ordering salad anywhere in Rome I recommend that you ask for “senza condire” that is, without dressing, (get it on the side). And when you want the check, say, “il conto, per favore.” Also, if you want to ask for something do not use the formal ‘vorrei’ (do you have) but instead say “c’e” (literally, is there). So for example if you want garbanzo beans, or cece, you say,” c’e cece?” Finally, the ultimate word for everything is “basta,” or “it suffices.”

 

Then when you are ready to walk more steps (Rome is the city of seven hills) walk northeast to Michaelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio.

Walk north west toward the Pantheon past the Area Sacra Argentina.

Discover charming little piazzas as you walk toward the Pantheon.

We stayed at the Hotel del Sole al Pantheon. A cute little place at an incredible location.

Reward yourself for a good day’s walking by having some of the world’s best gelato at Giolitti’s. If it is still the same old system, you need to pay for the gelato first at a kiosk near the front. Then bring the ticket over to the amazing array of flavors.

Walk east back to the Via del Corso and have a late afternoon stroll.

If you’ve done all this or more you have had an incredible day! Go back to your hotel for a rest before dinner.

End of Day One.

 

Day Two: Ancient Rome

 

Take a cab to the Roman Forum. Enter at the north end of the Via Dei Fori Imperiali. Wander through the old stones.

Exit on the south end near the Coliseum.

Cross the busy road on the south side of the coliseum where the buses sit. Find Via Dei Strada Statale. Walk a block or two till you get to Pasqualino’s  at the corner of Via Ostilia  (ph. 06.7004576). Have a great cheap lunch.

Walk two blocks away from the Coliseum and one block left to the Basilica di san clemente. This amazing church has some lovely mosaics, but its real feature is that it is built on the site of a pagan temple. Walk down through the layers of roman history.

 

Walk south on Via Celimontana  till you get to San Stefano Rotundo. Look below to see what Dickens had to say about the frescoes here.

Charles Dickens was shocked by the violence of the martyrdom frescoes, as he memorably recorded in Ch. 10 of his Pictures from Italy (1846):

To single out details from the great dream of Roman Churches, would be the wildest occupation in the world. But St. Stefano Rotondo, a damp, mildewed vault of an old church in the outskirts of Rome, will always struggle uppermost in my mind, by reason of the hideous paintings with which its walls are covered. These represent the martyrdoms of saints and early Christians; and such a panorama of horror and butchery no man could imagine in his sleep, though he were to eat a whole pig raw, for supper. Grey-bearded men being boiled, fried, grilled, crimped, singed, eaten by wild beasts, worried by dogs, buried alive, torn asunder by horses, chopped up small with hatchets: women having their breasts torn with iron pinchers, their tongues cut out, their ears screwed off, their jaws broken…. So insisted on, and laboured at, besides, that every sufferer gives you the same occasion for wonder as poor old Duncan awoke, in Lady Macbeth, when she marvelled at his having so much blood in him.

 

When you’ve had your fill of the gruesome, take a walk to one of the loveliest spots on the planet, at a hidden corner of Rome. Cross Via Claudia with the park on your right. Walk on Via di San Paolo della Croce. This turns into Clivo di Scauro. At the end you’ll find a gorgeous 4th century church. It hasn’t changed much since the time of the engraving below.

That’s probably more than enough for the day. Walk through the Parco Ninfeo di Nerone back to the coliseum to find a cab to take you back to your hotel for a rest before dinner.

However, if you want more, you can walk north through the Parco di Traiano.

On its northwest side (get ready for more steps) you can find the San Pietro in Vincoli, home of Michaelangelo’s Moses — the one with the horns.

If you are ready for a meal, this is close to a lovely restaurant, Nerone’s at Via delle Terme di Tito, 96.

Another incredible day!

 

Day 3: Hidden Rome

Rome is filled with endless secrets.

 

For something gruesome and truly amazing, visit the crypt of the Capuchin monks. You’ll find this at the bottom of the Via Veneto, at the intresection of Via dei Cappucini near the Piazza Berberini. The Veneto is the street made famous in Fellini’s film, La Dolce Vita. (It is not quite as glamorous as it was then.)

If you walk past the Piazza Berberini down Via Delle Quattro Fontane to Via del Quiranale, you’ll come to two oval churches. The first one is San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Borromini.

The second is Bernini’s, Sant’Andrea al Quirinale.

Ok. Walk a little further down this street. Make a right and walk through the park on the Via del Traforo. Make a left on Via in Arcione and go to the Fontana di Trevi. Far from a secret, but a must see.

 

Further afield, south of the Circus Maximus, on the Aventine hill, on the Piazza dei Cavalieri Malta, you can find the enchanting magic keyhole.

If you want to mail a postcard, don’t do it from Rome. Take the underground train to Vatican City. After going to the post office, you can see the Sistine Chapel. My favorite part is the uniforms of the Swiss Guards.

 

I could go on and on . . . there are the catacombs on the Via Appia Antica . . .

But I’ll stop here! Buon Viaggio!

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One Response to “A Walk Through Rome”

  1. snaffy Says:

    I loved Rome and I am looking forward to going back someday. There is so much to see. I was amazed at the orange trees lining the streets and the beautiful wisterias. The coliseum is my favorite. This is a very good post. I love the picture which bring back memories. I was there with my daughter during Easter of ’05.

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