The Best Rome Walks - Get Around the City

By Megan Hills

Ah, Rome. One of the best ways to see this ancient city is by foot as there’s a surprise on every corner and given that many of its big tourist attractions are quite close together, a good itinerary will save you money flitting back and forth.

We’ve put together two of our favorite Rome walks which will take you from the Spanish Steps to the Colosseum in no time and hit all the big attractions in between.

Bring some good shoes, you’ll need them.

Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain to The Pantheon

Start things off like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday at the Spanish Steps, one of Rome’s biggest landmarks. Dating back to 1723, this grandiose staircase has attracted many and it’s worth nipping into the nearby streets to explore the boutiques and cafes for a souvenir or three.

Once you’ve wrapped up at the Steps, it’s pretty much a straight line towards the Trevi Fountain. Walk past the Keats/Shelley house nearby the base of the steps and walk south along the Piazza di Spagna.

It will eventually give way to the Via di Propaganda and you’ll spot the Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte Basilica church on your left, continue going straight on Via di Sant’Andrea beside it. When the road forks, go left onto Largo del Nazareno and then continue onto Via del Nazarano. After that, turn right Via della Panetteria, right onto Via della Stamperia and keep walking straight until you hit the Piazza di Trevi. It’s not going to come as a huge surprise that the Trevi Fountain will be waiting for you there and it’s pretty easy to spot, as there’s usually a big crowd congregated round the massive ivory structure.

After you’ve taken your photograph and taken part in a very Roman tradition (tossing a coin into the fountain), head towards Vicolo del Forno. Continue onto Via delle Muratte and walk past the McDonald’s, onto Via di Pietra and finally left into a narrow street called Vicolo de Burro. Continue onto right onto PIazza S. Ignazio, then left at the end of the road and right onto Via del Seminario. Then just walk straight until you see the gigantic facade of the Pantheon rise up in the distance, it’ll be on your left. All in all, the total walk should take between twenty to thirty minutes — of course, if you’re stopping off at the sights then it’s going to take a little longer.

Trastevere to the Capitoline Museum, Roman Forum and Colosseum

A lazy morning in Trastevere is a gorgeous way to start the day, as it’s one of Rome’s coolest districts and it’s packed with no end of restaurants perfect for a spot of brunch and coffee. Once you’ve finished up and spent time getting to know the area, return to the Basilica of our Lady in Trastevere — located in one of Trastevere’s biggest squares. With your back to the church entrance, turn left and walk till you reach Piazza di Santa Maria. From there, turn right and go past Ristorante Sabatini, past Antica Osteria Rugantino until you hit a major dual carriageway called Piazza Sidney Nonnino. Cross the road, turn left and walk over the bridge (Ponte Garibaldi) which crosses the River Tiber. You’ll then hit Lungotevere de Cenci, which you should follow along the length of the river until you hit a turn off for Via del Foro Olitorio. At the end of the street, turn left onto Via di Teatro di Marcello, then right onto Piazza del Campidoglio. This is when a lot of stairs get involved, as you’ll then start your climb up to Capitoline Hill which you’ll easily spot by the gigantic white statues that line the walk to the entrance.

Once you’ve finished with the fascinating ancient museum, stand on the hill and take in the ruins of the Roman Forum from a distance. You can choose to walk down and around to explore it properly, however this walking tour will take you up to the Colosseum first. Take the stairs to Via del Campidoglio (located at the edge of Piazza del Campidoglio) walk along it. It’ll eventually give way to another street called Via di St Pietro which you’ll want to continue along, then turn right onto Via dei Fori Imperiali. You’ll be able to see the Piazza del Colosseo and the imposing structure in the distance, so just continue towards it — you literally can't miss it!

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Know Before You Go

Most tourists want that ‘off the beaten track’ experience when visiting a new place; they might pour over articles, travel blogs or speak to people who have been to get a feel for what to expect before visiting. We’ve spoken to the locals to get some recommendations and top tips to share to make your trip to Rome seamless. 1. Ciao Most locals in Rome will understand basic English, however, it’s always courteous to learn a few useful Italian phrases before you go to make communicating a bit easier. Buy a pocket book of key phrases, such as how to say hello and goodbye, how to order in a restaurant and how to ask for directions, as a start. Even if you get something wrong, just by showing the effort will be more than most people! 2. Local dishes It’s common assumption that dishes in Italy consist only of pizza and pasta, and variations of – but don’t rule out other delicacies that dominate menus across Rome. The Italians are known for their fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce that make their food so healthy so you can forget lashings of butter and processed snacks. From imaginative aperitivi, to anything fritti, another one of the best things to try in Rome is arancini, tomato rice balls with mozzarella, or Bucatini, spaghetti with a hole through the middle. 3. Hidden Gems Veer off the tourist track and look down the cobbled side streets for hidden gems when looking for places to eat. Often you’ll find great family run tavernas that serve traditional Roman food at a snip of the price of a touristy restaurant on the main street. The menus will be understated but delicious all the same and you’ll always be served with a smile! It’s also where your key phrases will come in handy... 4. Queuing Many cultures are respectable queue-formers and will wait patiently and in an orderly fashion before getting into a busy attraction. Not the Italians. You can forget all rules when it comes to waiting in line – it’s each to their own in this dog-eat-dog queuing system. One of the great things about the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card is that you can dodge the queues at some of the busiest attractions, such as the Vatican Museums (which can save you up to 4 hours in the busy months) and the Coliseum, too. 5. Drinking Drinking in Italy is a civilised affair and you’ll often find most Italians drinking conservatively at both lunch and dinner. Producing some of the best wine in the world, Moscato, Chianti, Amarone and Prosecco all herald from this country so you’ll be sure to find some of the best wine bars suitably stocked around the city. Spend a day tasting the different varieties, from red, to white, sparking and maybe even some limoncello, too, a zesty liqueur usually taken after dinner as a palette cleanser. Cheers! 6. Walking Rome is a relatively small city and most of it can be explored on foot. Although the Metro system is easy to use and cheap, we would always recommend bringing good walking shoes and exploring on foot. This way you’ll see more of the city and get a real off-the-beaten-track experience. Don’t be afraid to get lost and interact with the locals to really see the Rome not in the guidebooks. And whatever you do – avoid the taxis, they can spot a tourist a mile off and you’ll leave with considerably lighter pockets! 7. Green spaces For a city so full of ancient ruins, you might be surprised to learn that there are a considerable number of green spaces in the city, too. The city boasts three huge parks – the favourite being Villa Borghese, not forgetting Villa Ada and Villa Doria Pamphili, as well as hidden gardens which offer secluded spots for picnicking, people watching or gazing over the cityscape. The Rose Garden up on the Aventine Hill is a particular favourite, as well as the Orange Garden which offers a stunning panorama over Rome, too. 8. Street Art The street art scene is Rome isn’t one of its main features but the trend is certainly growing as the hipster population are becoming bolder at self-expression. Typically in the student area of San Lorenzo you can find vibrant murals along via degli Ausoni and via dei Sabelli. Or head out to Ostiense, an up and coming area for street artists and home to the Outdoor Festival and 999 Contemporary who invite big shot street artists to the city to create works of art legally. 9. Street Eats We don’t mean stalls and markets, we meet eating on the street. It’s very common in Rome to find the locals dining out with a taglio of pizza bought from an understated pizzeria and a cold bottle of Peroni. With rows and rows of rectangular pizza, you can pick how much you want and they’ll slice it up for you. Whether you fancy trying something a bit different, be it a white pizza without the tomato, or a truffle and vegetable inspired combo, take your pick and set to the street with your very own picnic. 10. Cinema Culture If you’re a movie buff, not only will you be able to recreate famous movie scenes at iconic locations across the city from the Spanish Steps, to the Coliseum, but a few miles out of central Rome you’ll find a whole district dedicated to filmmaking, Cinecittà (which literally means cinema city). These film studios have filmed over 3000 films, including the classic La Dolce Vita, so we’d recommend joining in a tour of the sets and exhibitions to learn about Italian movie culture.
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Vatican City attractions

Save on Vatican City attractions with the Vatican Omnia Card A visit to Rome would be wasted if you didn’t take time out to see the awe-inspiring Vatican City attractions. As the heart of the Catholic faith, many have endured pilgrimages to reach this holy place starting with the ancient Romans and persisting all the way to the present day. As home to some of the most famous landmarks and attractions in the world, you can see the best of them for free with the Rome and Vatican pass package and learn more from our guide to the Vatican city below.   St Peter's Basilica  One of the most important sites of pilgrimage in the world, St Peter’s Basilica is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and justifies the Vatican City tickets price for the millions of tourists who flock to its doors. Enjoy a free audio guide and skip the long lines at St Peter’s Basilica to fast-track your way into one of the Catholic faith’s most important sites. Dating back to the 16th century, it is an impressive building and perhaps one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in the world. With names like Bramante, Michelangelo, Maderno, and Bernini involved in its construction, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most impressive attractions in the city. From the huge square to its iconic dome, the true treasures of the Basilica lie within its walls: gleaming gold décor, mosaics, statues, and sculptures galore. See if you can spot Bramante’s bronze Baldacchino, which takes prime position at the head of the church. Underground, you can also explore the crypts which house the tombs of the former Popes. For unparalleled views over the city, climb up to the top of the Dome to really appreciate the vast expanse of this amazing site.   Vatican Gardens  Many popes have found peace of mind and solitude at the Vatican Gardens, an oasis of calm amidst the city with an unbeatable view of St Peter’s Basilica wherever you tread. In recent years, savvy tourists have been allowed beyond its walls to explore its numerous green pockets which include exotic plants, miniature succulent plots and no end of breathtaking sculptural fountains poised making for a picturesque experience. Not just anybody can wander in, however, as only a select number of visitors are permitted a day. You’ll need to make a reservation on a Vatican Gardens tour or on an inclusive Vatican tours package to see the site.   Sistine Chapel  The Sistine Chapel is considered one of the finest works of High Renaissance art for the sheer scale and the skill of the frescoes, predominantly painted by Michelangelo in the early 16th century. The chapel itself dates back to the late 1400s which was built by Pope Sixtus IV. The later decorations were commissioned by Pope Julius II. Perhaps the most famous of the frescoes is The Last Judgement, but central to the ceiling are the nine scenes from the Book of Genesis. It wasn’t just Michelangelo that deserves all the credit, other leading painters and contemporaries such as Botticelli and Ghirlandaio also contributed to the painting of this impressive chapel. The building measures an impressive 40.9 meters long so it puts it into perspective – if you want to be awed then visit the Sistine Chapel to appreciate the magnitude of one of Rome’s most impressive works of art.   Vatican Museums  The Vatican Museums are home to over 9 miles of art, sculpture, tapestries and more. The estimated worth of the art in the Vatican Museums is over €15 billion so you’re promised a wide range of world class collections. The collections were built up over the centuries by the Popes who lived in the city and date back to Ancient Egyptian pieces, to the 20th century – most notably some of the finest masterpieces from the Renaissance years. There are 54 rooms, from the Gallery of Statues, the Gallery of the Busts, to the Rotonda, and finally, the Sistine Chapel which is at the end of the tour. These Museums are not to be rushed and a thorough visit can take over 4 hours. Join one of the many Vatican tours and learn about Papal history along the way, not to mention the history behind some of the most famous works on display.   Garden of Eden Painting - Vatican This stunning painting is one of the Vatican’s most iconic, barring of course Michelangelo’s frescoes stretching across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Lovingly crafted by Wenzel Peter, this masterpiece named Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has to be seen to be believed as both its gigantic size and attention to naturalistic detail make it one of the most exciting pieces in the Vatican Museums’ collection. Situated in the Pinacoteca Art Gallery in Room XVI, it takes up an entire wall and awes everyone who passes.   St John in the Lateran and the Cloister  St John in the Lateran and Cloister is in fact the official seat of the Pope. It’s older and – officially – more important than St Peter’s Basilica and is one of the oldest churches in Western Europe. It’s hugely significant in religious history and dating back to 324 AD has a wealth of history to tell. Within, the building is a fine example of Cosmatesque and Baroque architecture and design, with grand gold decorations and sculptures down its long nave. St John in the Lateran is also famous for its peaceful Cloister, which was built in the 13th century and is now a site of meditative prayer for many locals and visitors. Many pilgrims also flock to the Holy Steps, the Scala Sancta, which can be found in an early Papal chapel named the Lateran Palace.
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Explore Rome's Classical Music Spots

There’s something magical about listening to classical music – both old and new. The soothing sounds date back to the 1550s - 1900 when the genre was considered mainstream, however, historians now claim that it can even be traced back to the 11th century. Although the styles and traditions might have changed from its inception to today’s practice, the sentiments are the same. With notable periods like Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and Contemporary to consider, the genre is still one of the most respected of all the styles for its diversity and skill, echoed in the works of great masters around the world, from Bach and Beethoven, to Vivaldi and Verdi. Rome provides the perfect backdrop and soundboard for renditions of these great music pieces, and newer classical music brought to the fore. Considering Italy’s classical roots, we decided to look at some of the best places to enjoy classical music in Rome, from outdoor productions, to renowned academies of music. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma One of Rome’s original opera houses, the Teatro dell’Opera di Rome – formerly called, Teatro Costanzi – was once a stunning building complete with stuccowork, ornate decorations and a six metre chandelier. Over the years it has undergone many facelifts but has always been considered one of the best venues for a classical music performance, welcoming world-class acts since the 1880s. The auditorium is rated one of the best in the world for its acoustics and it can seat 1,600 fans from November to May. During the summer months the productions move outside, to the iconic Terme di Caracalla, where the ancient public baths, provide the backdrop for low lit performances of the greatest classical hits, from La Bohème to Aida and Tosca. Piazza Beniamino Gigli, 7 +39 06 481 60255 Istituzione Universitaria Concerti La Sapienza University, arguably the most prestigious university in Rome, has cultivated brilliant students and musicians for years – and has played an even more important part in Rome’s cultural shaping since the Second World War. After the prohibition of all concerts and musical events during WWII, it was the years 1945-46 that later saw a huge influx in efforts to revive this dormant tradition and appreciation. It was thanks to a group of young La Sapienza music students who breathed life back into the tradition of classical productions and so set up the Istituzione Universitaria Concerti to reopen classical up to the general public. Today it’s one of the best venues to go to see performances of Bach, Scarlatti, Beethoven and new ones-to-watch like Yundi Li. Lungotevere Flaminio 50 +39 06 361 0051 Villa Celimontana Another of Rome’s most famous outdoor music venues, open in the summer months only, is Villa Celimontana, up on the Caelian hill. This beautiful verdant oasis and public park lies just around the corner from the Coliseum and Baths of Caracalla. Famous for its gardens and fountains, it’s an unbeatable location for music performances. Every year it hosts the jazz festival from early July to mid-August, and this time it is championing all form of classical and jazz music, including a range of arts from theatre to dance, too. You’ll recognise some of the greatest pieces of all genres, and it’s hard to find a more impressive backdrop! Via Alessandro Poerio, 112 +39 06 583 35781 Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Santa Cecilia, the classically devoted venue hosted inside Rome’s huge concert hall, the Auditorium Parco della Musica, boasts an impressive line-up of musicians and performances throughout the year. Performing a wide range of concerts every month, from the Youth Orchestra, to Verdi’s Requiem and Nikolai Lugansky, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is one of the most prestigious companies of singers and orchestras in the city. You can rest assured there will be something on that ticks every box to take you through the year and into 2016. It’s a great venue to start your first foray into the genre and offers a range of ticket prices – making classical music accessible to everyone, old and young. Viale Pietro De Coubertin, 30, 00196 Roma +39 06 8024 1281 Teatro di Marcello Teatro Marcello is an ancient open air theatre and among one of the most historic buildings in Rome. The theatre dates back to Julius Caesar, who commissioned the building, but it was later completed by Emperor Augustus in 13BC and named after his favourite nephew. The ruins of the Teatro di Marcello set the scene for stunning summer night events in the Estate Romana, held every evening from early June until October. Those with tickets to this memorable out door event can expect chamber orchestras, solo singers and classical composers performing your most loved operas and classical pieces of all time. Via del Teatro di Marcello, 00186 Roma +39 06 4561 5180 It’s evident that there isn’t a shortage of world-class classical music venues and performers in Rome, especially during the summer months. From academies, to ancient ruins, outdoor events and exclusive performances, Rome is a champion of classical music and will forever uphold the tradition and institution with pride. Image credit: mararie @Flickr
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