Rome by foot: 4 walking itineraries to explore the city center

1. Walking itinerary Coliseum - Forum - piazza Venezia - Campidoglio - largo Argentina - Campo de Fiori - piazza Navona - Pantheon.

This is one of the most typical touristic itineraries in the center of Rome. I organized it in a way that you can follow it, more or less strictly according to your desire, and after a couple of hours still find yourself in the center, so that you are free to go somewhere else if you wish, or end your walk and go back home.

Exploration of the most famous and typical attractions

The initial point (1) of this itinerary is the Coliseum, so get out of the metro B at station Colosseo, and you'll start directly by having the most famous symbol of Rome in front of your eyes. You can do a little walk around it, and take a look at the Arch of Constantine just beside.

Once you're satisfied, take via dei Fori Imperiali (walk towards point B of the map) and after 5 minutes you'll have the forum (2) on your left. There's a beautiful view all over the ancient ruins. Along via dei Fori Imperiali you will also find (on the right side of the street if you come from the Coliseum) an interesting series of statues depicting the ancient emperors of Rome.

At the end of the street you will reach piazza Venezia, where you can admire the Altar of Fatherland (3). Around the corner there's also the capitoline hill with the Campidoglio (4), you can visit the beautiful piazza where there is the building with the central administration of Rome. You MUST also see the magnificent Ara Coeli church, which is just beside, where you will also have a very nice view of the surroundings.

Once you've done with the Campidoglio, go back down and walk towards the point (5) of the map, reaching largo Argentina. This is a very nice piazza where you will see, in the center, an archaeological areal. The area contains the remainders of four ancient roman temples... and a shelter for cats! In the piazza there are also a famous theatre (teatro Argentina) and a big Feltrinelli bookstore.

Seen everything? Good, next is Campo de Fiori (6), you can reach it by following corso Vittorio Emanuele II and then via dei Baullari. Campo de Fiori is a beautiful piazza, dominated by the statue of Giordano Bruno (burnt here in 1600 by the church for his "heretic" ideas), with a nice street market present every morning -except sunday-, and very animated restaurants all around.

To continue the itinerary, walk back to the direction you came from and head to piazza Navona (7). Maybe my favorite piazza in Rome. There is the beautiful fountain of the four rivers in the middle (it appears in the movie Angels and Demons) and the piazza is always full of artists, vendors, tarot readers and musicians.

Last point of this walking itinerary in Rome is the Pantheon (8), the very ancient church dedicated to the Virgin with the hole in the roof. This is the perfect ending point, as all the around the Pantheon there are restaurants and bars, if you want to sit, rest and have some food, and also a lot of souvenirs shops.


TIP: A lot of internal streets, especially in the historic center are like this: paved with Sanpietrini stones, and definitely not friendly to high heels.

Wear comfortable shoes! It's a must to explore rome by foot!


2. Walking itinerary Cavour - San Pietro in Vincoli - University - Monti neighborhood - Quirinale palace - Trevi fountain - Shopping district

This is another very nice one that I suggest you once you've done with the famous and more beaten track (Coliseum to via dei Fori). For this exploration of Rome by foot you'll visit both some very popular attractions (like the Trevi fountain) and some others that a lot of tourists who come to Rome miss (like San Pietro in Vincoli and the Quirinale palace).

The map of another walking tour in the center, a bit more original

Ready? The starting point of this track is again a metro station: metro B station Cavour (1). I used to get out of this station everyday when I went to the university! Once you're out, you're in rione Monti, one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Rome, full of little restaurants and bars. Follow the street you find in front of you when you get out of the metro.

Before you get deep in the neighborhood, do an little diversion: you see the stairs where it says "salita dei borgia"? Climb up, cross the street (viale Cavour) and you'll reach San Pietro in Vincoli (2), an underrated church which is very nice inside. But even more interesting, beside it there is the engineering deparment of the university La Sapienza, the biggest university in Rome. It's possible to go inside during the day and visit the chiostro with the characteristic well in the middle.

When you've done, go back from where you came and reach again via Leonina. This is the heart of Rione monti. Leaving the metro stop behind you, you'll reach in two minutes a popular little square called piazza della Madonna dei Monti (3). This piazza has a fountain in the middle, and it's a typical meeting point for youngsters. You will always find people chatting and drinking here, from the early evening to late night.

Now leave this little piazza and follow via dei Serpenti, in ten minutes you will reach the street called via Nazionale, and once you cross it you'll find the indications for the Quirinale palace (4). This big building is, politically speaking, the most important building in Italy: here lives the president of the Italian republic (currently Giorgio Napolitano). The piazza in front of it is very nice, with a huge obelisks, and you'll notice a lot of militaries guarding the building. From the terrace there's a nice panoramic view, you can also see Saint Peter's cupola!

Now there are some stairs that go down. Follow them. After 200-300 meters, you'll notice that the flow of people increases. You are very near one of the most famous monuments of Rome: the Trevi fountain (5). Can you hear the sound of the water already? There! You'll always find a huge crowd here, people taking pictures and throwing coins in the water. An incredibly suggestive place.

What to do now? leave the fountain behind you and follow via delle Muratte, you'll reach once again the super touristic center as you are in via del Corso. Shops, shops, and more shops. And that's how this walk ends: as soon as you reach via del Corso take right and walk until you'll see, on your right, the famous streets of the fashion district of Rome (6): via Condotti, via Frattina, via del Babuino. You can admire those luxury -very expensive- boutiques and then reach piazza di Spagna, when you can continue your exploration or take the metro A and go back home.


3. Walking itinerary Flaminio - piazza del Popolo - piazza di Spagna - Spanish Steps - Trinità dei Monti - Pincian balcony - Borghese gardens - Borghese gallery

This is a very nice walk that start in the busy center and ends in the peaceful park of the Borghese gardens. At the end of it you may even see the gallery (but remember you need to book in advance) or even go to the zoo.

Let me explain you the itinerary I suggest.

Map of the tour ending in the park of Villa Borghese

With the metro A station Flaminio you reach piazzale Flaminio (1), the starting point for this exploration. Piazzale Flaminio itself is nice but nothing memorable, but just cross the big arc you see (where most of the people go) and you'll find yourself in one of the most wonderful squares in Rome already: piazza del Popolo (2). The piazza is paved with sanpietrini stones, and on top on it you'll notice the pincial balcony. You'll get there later. Now enjoy the atmosphere of piazza del Popolo, the obelisk in the center, and the two identical churches (again they've been the setting for the movie Angels and Demons).

Two streets depart from piazza del Popolo: via del Corso on the right, via del Babuino on the left. Take left. Via del Babuino is a nice street full of shops, and here already the prices start to increase. The more you get close to piazza di Spagna, the bigger they are! At the end of the street is piazza di Spagna (3), with the beautiful "barcaccia" fountain in the center.

From here you can climb the Spanish Steps and reach the church of Trinità dei Monti (4). The church is very nice inside, and from its front balcony there's already a beautiful view, ideal for pictures. When you've done, don't go down again but with the church behind you, walk on the right following via Gabriele d'Annunzio. After 10 minutes, you'll reach the pincian hill (5), and its famous balcony where you can have one of the most romantic views of Rome.

You're already in the Boghese gardens now. Leaving the balcony and getting deeper in the park (6), you can have a very relaxing walk in this big green area, between bycicles, couples, yoga classes, and recharge yourself a bit. If you proceed further, you can reach the Borghese Gallery (7), famous for its masterpieces of art, staues and paintings.

If you want you can conclude this walking tour with a visit to the zoo (botanic garden), or just go back and take the metro.


4. Walking itinerary Ottaviano - Saint Peter square - Castel Sant'Angelo - Lungotevere - Piazza Trilussa - Santa Maria Trastevere - Tiber Island

This is another fantastic walking tour. It its whole, it can take up to two hours, as usual it depends a lot on how many pauses you make. Considering the beautiful things along the route, I'm sure you'll stop many times. This itinerary will allow you to visit the Vatican and walk along side the river Tiber.

Walking tour that includes the Vatican, an itinerary along the side of the river Tiber, Trastevere and the Tiber Island.

This is a biggie. Take the metro A and get out at station Ottaviano (1), here we start our walk. You're already very near the Vatican, and you'll immediately see the indications for Saint Peter and the Vatican museums. Along the street that will bring you to the Holy See, you'll see a lot of tourists and the souvenir shops will start to feel like Vatican: they sell religious icons, portraits of the pope, miniatures of italian saints, holy items. Before you reach the famous Saint Peter square, note on your right the big irony door that gives access to the Vatican state. You'll see the first swiss guards there, in their colored uniforms.

It will take you just 5 minutes to reach Saint Peter (2). You can wander around this glorious piazza, see the impressive columnade from Bernini, the magnificence of the basilica. If you risk to stop for hours and proceed no further, this is the place. If you make it, once you're convinced to leave this amazing square, take via della Conciliazione, the wide street just in front of Saint Peter's basilica, and walk until you reach Castel Sant'Angelo (3).

This interesting building near the river was built in ancient roman times, from the emperor Hadrian, and later became a fortress and a residence used by the popes. Today it is a museum. It has a very interesting architecture, and a quite original shape. From this point you can continue along side the river and head south, a very romantic walk especially if you do it at night where you can see the reflections of the light on the surface of the Tiber. 20 minutes after you leave Castel Sant'Angelo you'll reach Piazza Trilussa (4), the little square entitled to the roman poet.

Piazza Trilussa is the meeting point of the young community of Rome, and if you arrive here at night you'll find it extremely crowded by youngsters. This is also the perfect point to start the exploration of one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Rome: Trastevere. Leaving for a little the river and getting deeper in Trastevere, you'll soon reach the central piazza of Santa Maria in Trastevere (5), where you can visit the homonymous church.

The nighborhood is very interesting, rich of little treasures to discover. So you can wander freely here for awhile. To conclude your tour, I suggest to go back to the river and proceed to the last destination of the itinerary: the curious island in the middle of the river Tiber, called in fact Tiber Island (6). Before you jump in via the bridge Ponte Cestio, take a look at it: you'll notice that the island has the shape of a ship. This ancient place is surrounded by several legends and myths, and it's also associated to medicine. There's the hospital FateBeneFratelli here.


032 Notes:

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